This chocolate-covered strawberry layer cake is a show-stopper! With layers of chocolate cake and strawberry buttercream topped with chocolate-covered strawberries, it is the perfect serving size for a romantic dessert for two.
Chocolate-covered strawberries are a classic Valentine's Day dessert. But this show-stopping chocolate-covered strawberry layer cake takes it a step further.
Three layers of chocolate cake are stacked with layers of buttercream and soft, macerated strawberries. The entire cake is iced in more strawberry buttercream, then drizzled with chocolate ganache. Then, the top is garnished with chocolate-covered strawberries. Drooling yet?
Ingredients and Instructions for the Layer Cake
Despite how fancy this chocolate-covered strawberry layer cake looks, it's actually pretty easy to make!
The dry ingredients include all-purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt.
The wet ingredients include buttermilk, coffee (or hot water), oil, eggs and vanilla extract.
Stir together the dry ingredients in one mixing bowl, and whisk together the all the wet ingredients except the coffee in a second, smaller bowl. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir just until combined.
Stir in the coffee to make a thin batter.
Divide the batter into three greased, parchment-lined 6-inch cake pans and bake for 35 minutes.
How to Make Parchment Circles
Using a permanent marker, trace around the outside edge of the cake pan.
Cut inside the permanent marker circle.
How to Mascerate Strawberries
Start the strawberries the day before you plan to make the buttercream. Simply toss together the strawberry slices, lemon juice and sugar. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
Why mascerate strawberries? First, to extract the juices to use as flavoring in the buttercream. Second, to soften the strawberries to use as filling in the chocolate-covered strawberry layer cake.
After 24 hours, strain the juice from the strawberries. You should have about half a cup (add water to make half a cup if you don't). Microwave in a 4-cup glass measure for 5 to 10 minutes to reduce to ¼ cup. Reserve this for flavoring the buttercream.
Ingredients and Instructions for the Buttercream
This buttercream is a bit more involved than American buttercream, but it's definitely worth it. The frosting is light, smooth, and incredibly creamy. It's called "mousseline buttercream" and it has elements of both Italian buttercream (making a sugar syrup) and Swiss buttercream (uses egg whites only instead of egg yolks).
Combine the ¾ cup of the sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat to dissolve the sugar, then lower the temperature to keep it warm while you beat the egg whites.
Beat the egg whites until foamy, then add the cream of tartar.
Beat until soft peaks form (peaks that fall over when the whisk attachment is inverted), then add the remaining sugar.
Beat until stiff peaks form (peaks of the meringue stay upright when the whisk attachment is inverted).
Beat the sugar syrup into the beaten egg whites. This cooks the egg whites, so no need to worry about serving this to children, the elderly or pregnant women.
Beat in the butter. It's critical to make sure your meringue mixture is cooled before adding in the butter. If it's too warm, the buttercream will look curdled and soupy. Don't worry if that does happen, however, simply chill the buttercream for 10 to 15 minutes, then continue beating and the buttercream will smooth out.
Then, beat in the strawberry puree, if desired, add a drop or two of pink or red food coloring and beat until evenly distributed, and frost your cake.
Most buttercream problems occur when one part of the mixture (the meringue, or the butter) is too warm or too cold. The problems can almost always be resolved by either chilling or warming the buttercream. The only problem that can't be fixed is over-beating your egg whites.
My buttercream looks like cottage cheese.
Your butter was likely too cold. Place your bowl of a pan of simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the water) just until the edges of the buttercream start to melt, then beat vigously until the buttercream smooths out.
My buttercream is soupy.
Your meringue was likely too warm when you started adding in your butter. Chill the buttercream for 10 to 15 minutes, then continue beating until smooth and creamy.
How to Frost a Cake
First, level your cakes with a serrated knife. Cut off any humps that arose while the cake was baking.
Assemble the layers: for a 6-inch cake, spread ⅓-cup of frosting over the first layer, then spread a couple of spoonfuls of macerated strawberries.
Repeat with the second layer.
Top with the third layer. Then, apply a crumb coat. This is a thin layer of frosting that traps crumbs, which is especially important with a dark-colored cake and a lighter-colored frosting.
Next, apply the final coat of frosting. Use about ⅓-cup on the top and a full cup for the sides. Chill the cake while you make the ganache.
Ganache is made by heating cream just until scalding, then pouring it over finely-chopped chocolate and stirring until thick, smooth and shiny. First, dip your garnish strawberries in the ganache, and use the rest to pour over the chilled cake. The ganache will set quickly, so once you pour it on, give it a quick push towards the edges so it covers the top and drips down the sides. Chill to set the ganache.
Pipe a few swirls with the remaining frosting on top, and garnish with your ganache-covered strawberries. Chill until ready to serve.
The cake can be made with just a bowl and a whisk, or with a hand mixer or stand mixer. I used three 6-inch cake pans. If you only have one or two 6-inch pans, you can bake in batches, and the batter can sit while the cakes are baking.
If you don't have six-inch cake pans, you can bake this recipe in two 9-inch pans instead.
A stand mixer with a whip attachment is really essential for making the buttercream. You could use a hand mixer, but it will take longer to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.
The unfrosted cake layers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature.
Once filled and frosted, the uncut chocolate-covered strawberry layer cake should be stored in the refrigerator. Chill the cake for 15 minutes, then wrap in plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator.
Once cut, use an additional piece of plastic wrap to press against the cut sides of the cake to prevent it from drying out.
You can use chocolate cake mix to bake these cakes. Mix the batter as directed and divide it between the three six-inch cake pans.
If you don't want to make the buttercream from scratch, you can use store-bought strawberry frosting. You'll need two containers to completely fill and frost the layers. The frosting won't get as smooth as buttercream, and doesn't hold up well to piping. Once you pour on the ganache, it will likely pool in between peaks of frosting.
For the strawberries
- 12 oz strawberry slices
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
For the cake
- 2 cups (9.3 oz/265 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ⅔ cups (12 oz/340 g) white sugar
- ⅔ cup (2 oz/60 g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (4 fl oz/ 120 mL) vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (8 fl oz/240 mL) buttermilk
- 1 cup (8 fl oz/240 mL) hot strong-brewed coffee or hot water
For the buttercream
- 2 cups (16 oz/454 g) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (7 oz/200 g) sugar, divided
- ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 mL) water
- 5 large egg whites
- ½ teaspoon + ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
For the ganache
- 4.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup (4 fl oz/120 mL) heavy cream
- 4 fresh strawberries (see Note)
- Make the strawberries: in a container with a tight-fitting lid, toss together the strawberries slices, lemon juice and sugar. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours, stirring every few hours.
- Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Spray three 6-inch cake pans with nonstick spray and line each with a 6-inch parchment circle.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients.
- In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and stir just until incorporated.
- While continuing to mix, slowly drizzle in the hot coffee or water. Stir until incorporated and the batter is thin.
- Divide the batter among the cake pans, filling each about ⅔ full. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan (leave parchment paper on) and cool completely on the wire rack. Remove parchment once cake is completely cooled.
- Place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl. Pour the macerated strawberries in to the sieve. You should have about half a cup of juice. If not, add water to make half a cup.
- Microwave the juice for 5 to 10 minutes on high to reduce the juices to ¼ of a cup. Reserve this for flavoring the buttercream.
- Place a small saucepan on your stovetop and a 1-cup heatproof glass measuring cup next to the stove.
- In the saucepan, combine the ¾ cup of the sugar and all of the water and cook over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Reduce the heat to low.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites until foamy, then add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
- While the egg whites are beating, raise the heat under the saucepan and bring the sugar mixture to a boil. Cook until the syrup measures 248 to 250 degrees F (120 to 121 degrees C). Immediately turn off the heat and pour the syrup into the glass measuring cup.
- Gradually beat the syrup into the egg whites, carefully avoiding the whisk attachment as much as possible. Use a rubber spatula to scrape as much syrup into the egg whites as possible.
- Lower the mixer speed to medium and beat for another 2 minutes, or until cool. If the mixture is not cool after two minutes, turn mixer to the lowest speed and mix until cool.
- Gradually beat in the butter a few tablespoons at a time on medium speed. At first, the beaten egg whites will look thinned, but it will thicken up as more butter is added. If at any time the mixture looks curdled, increase the speed slightly and beat until smooth before adding more butter.
- Once all the butter is incorporated, add in the reserved strawberry sauce and beat until fully incorporated.
- Level the cooled cakes, and spread about ⅓ cup of the frosting on top, then spread some of the strawberries over the frosting. Place another cake layer on top, spread another ⅓ cup of frosting and more strawberries. Top with the third cake layer. Spread a very thin layer (called a crumb coat) on the top and sides of the cake. Chill for 15 minutes.
- Spread ⅓ cup of frosting on top of the cake, and about a cup of frosting on the sides. Chill the cake for 30 minutes.
- Make the ganache: place the finely chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream just until scalding. Pour over the finely chopped chocolate and let stand for 1 minute, then stir until smooth.
- Dip the fresh strawberries in the ganache and chill until set.
- Spoon the remaining warm ganache over the top of the cake, and working quickly (the ganache will set quickly), use the spoon to push the ganache toward the edges and letting it drip down the sides. Chill the cake.
- Use any leftover buttercream to pipe a border along the bottom and/or pipe large swirls on top of the ganache. Top four of the swirls with a chocolate-covered strawberry.
- Chill the cake until ready to serve.
If your fresh strawberries are small, feel free dip as many as will fit on the top of your cake for garnishes.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 315Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 537mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 10g
I am not a certified nutritionist. This nutrition information is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only.
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