I’ve been on a strawberry kick lately. It just seems that I’ve been waiting forever for the rain to stop and the sun to break through the clouds, and now that the time has finally come, I resolved to enjoy it to the max. Among other things, it means I pretty much live on berries these days. I could easily go through a carton of strawberries in a day all by myself. I won’t, because there are always four of us fighting over them, but I absolutely could. I’m putting them in everything: from morning smoothies, oatmeal, and pancakes, through various muffins and cakes for the afternoon coffee break, to evening margaritas. (As they say, it’s important to know when to give up and have a margarita. For this mama, it’s been around seven p.m. lately. I’m just done for the day. “Put my feet up and have a margarita” done.)
What’s not to love about strawberries? They’re sweet and juicy, taste terrific, are powerhouses full of vitamin C, really healthy and good for you. Unless you mash them up and mix them with quart of heavy cream, as we do for this cake I suppose… but hey, what’s life without a little cream, right?! And I’m sure some of that vitamin C is still lurking under that creamy goodness somewhere!
I knew this cake would be a winner right from the start. The strawberry – chocolate combo is a classic that never disappoints. The cake base is light and airy, and the filling is rich and smooth, with distinctive pink color. The addition of gelatin firms it up a bit, and gives you a nice clean cut. All in all, a great dessert choice for any springtime celebration.
Go ahead and give it a try. Celebrate berry season! And please, don’t worry about the cream too much – after all, nobody ever eats “a cake”. Usually, you have a *slice* of cake – as a treat, but even more, as an experience, as a sweet moment in time with those you love. And as such, this cake is worth every its creamilicious bite.
Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Cream
- 200 g (7 oz.) bittersweet chocolate, grated
- 40 g (1.5 oz.) butter
- 8 eggs, room temperature, separated
- pinch of salt
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 250 g (8 oz.) white sugar
- 8 tablespoons water
- 200 g (7 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 100 g (3.5 oz.) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 tablespoons raspberry liqueur for sprinkling the cake layers
- 1 kg (2 lb.) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 200 g (7 oz.) white sugar
- 2 envelopes (7 g, 2 ¼ teaspoon each) Knox powdered gelatin
- 1 l (1 qt.) heavy whipping cream
+ powdered sugar, dark cocoa powder, fresh strawberries, pistachios
- To make the cake: Melt chocolate and butter; set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Line two 9×13 inch cake pans with parchment paper, and butter/flour the sides.
- Combine egg whites with salt and cream of tartar; beat until stiff. Combine egg yolks with sugar. Start beating, and gradually keep adding water. Beat until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Add the butter – chocolate mixture and the beaten egg whites.
- Sift together the dry ingredients, and add them to the chocolate – egg mixture. Mix just until combined. Divide the cake batter evenly between two pans. Bake until the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper, and let cool completely.
- To make the strawberry – cream filling: Combine the gelatin with ¼ cup of water and set aside for about 10 minutes to “bloom”. Puree the strawberries with sugar in a blender. Liquefy the gelatin over a pot of boiling water, stirring constantly. Be careful not to cook it, or it won’t set.
- Let the melted gelatin cool until lukewarm but still liquid. While the gelatin is cooling, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Combine the gelatin with the strawberry puree, and carefully mix in the whipped cream. Chill the strawberry cream for about 10 minutes so it’s easier to spread.
- Sprinkle one of the cakes with 3 tablespoons of liqueur. Spoon the filling on the cake and smooth it out. Moisten the remaining cake with 3 tablespoons of liqueur, and place it carefully on the filling. Chill until the filling is set, at least 4 hours.
- To finish the cake: Dust the cake with powdered sugar. Place 1.5” wide paper strips in regular intervals on the cake. Dust the cake evenly with the cocoa powder, and carefully remove the paper strips. Chill the cake until ready to serve. Right before serving, decorate the cake with strawberries and pistachios.