Valentine’s Day has never been one of my favorite days in the year. But, I will say this…it gives me a very good reason to A) bake something very fattening and B) indulge in it.
So, this year, I decided to take a classic, booze it up a bit, and turn it into a decadent cake. The result? A drunken chocolate covered strawberry cake. If you’re looking to impress your loved one (or ones) or if you just want to drown your sorrows in chocolate…then this is the cake for you. But, I am giving you fair warning now….it takes a loooooong time! It seems that I always come up with a great idea…then once I venture into the execution aspect….I realize that I’ve probably bitten off more than I can chew. Regardless, this cake is worth it.
So, the first step is baking the chocolate cake layers. If you have a favorite recipe…use it! But, I’ll give you mine just in case that I adapted from a Millionaire’s Layer Cake recipe…
For the Chocolate Cake:
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup hot coffee
1/3 vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Creme de Cocoa
Preheat oven to 350 and butter/spray 3 8 inch round cake pans
Sift together (psst….I never sift) flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder
In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, eggs, and vanilla
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and carefully stir to combine. At this point, if you have a standing mixer, you can use that as well. I, however, do not…and am left with a vintage hand mixer circa 1980. So, I slowly stirred everything together and then very carefully beat it at the end to combine.
Next, pour the patter evenly into the pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Poke the cake with a fork in a few places and pour Creme de Cocoa on top. Let completely cool.
Now, it’s time to make the filling! Well…one of them…
I used a recipe from Alton Brown for the chocolate mousse with a slight variation.
For the Chocolate Mousse:
1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
12 ounces dark chocolate chips
3 ounces espresso or coffee
2 tablespoons creme de cocoa
4 tablespoons butter
1 tsp flavorless gelatin
Chill 1 1/2 cups in refrigerator. (optional) chill bowl and beaters in the freezer…the colder they are, the faster it will whip!
In a double broiler, combine chocolate chips, coffee, creme de cocoa, and butter. Melt over medium heat. Once melted, remove from heat and let cool completely.
Pour 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream into a measuring cup and sprinkle in the gelatin. Let sit for 10 minutes. Then, carefully heat by swirling the measuring cup over a candle (weird? yes…but helps it to combine). Do this until it’s just combined. Pour into the cooled chocolate mixture and set aside.
In the bowl the you have been chilling in the freezer (or not), beat the whipping cream until medium peaks form. Gently spoon and combine into the chocolate mixture…do not over mix! Let chill for an hour. NOTE: I only chilled for 30 minutes and as a result…the mousse was not as stiff as I would have liked….but still tasty!
Ok, so while the mousse chills, it’s time to make the strawberry filling! I could not find a recipe that I particularly liked soooo I completely winged this one.
For the Strawberry Filling:
1 bag frozen strawberries; thawed
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Cocchi Americano
Splash of Lemon Juice
Put the thawed strawberries in a bowl and mash them with a fork. Put the rest of the ingredients in the bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate until you are ready to build the cake.
NOTE: Cocchi Americano is a type of vermouth. If you don’t have it or can’t find it, I would use a citrus flavored vodka. If you do have it, I recommend pouring some over ice with a orange peel while you’re finishing the cake…
Now…it’s time to build this monstrosity and impress everyone you know!
Step 1: Put one cake layer on the cake stand/plate that you are using.
Step 2: Top with chocolate mousse (FYI you will have plenty of mousse for the layers and the outside of the cake)
Step 3: Dollop half of the strawberry filling on top of the mousse
Step 4: Repeat until you are left with the 3rd cake layer on top.
Step5: Spread remaining mousse along the outside of the cake.
Did you think you were finished? Ha! We still have one more thing to do! The ganache! I normally make mine with heavy whipping cream. However, at this point, I had run out and the market downstairs did not have any either. So, here is what I did…
For the Ganache:
1/3 cup half and half
2 tablespoons butter
4 oz dark chocolate bar
Heat everything in a double broiler over medium heat until smooth and pour on top of the cake! Sprinkle with a bit of fleur de sel…yum!
Yes…you are now finished!
Now, when you slice into it…you will have beautiful layers of cake, mousse, and strawberry. It’s rich and light at the same time. Perfection