Saturday, April 28, 2012

Strawberry Cream Cheese Layered Chocolate Cake

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I love spring time. Growing up in California, I was used to the freshest produce at the snap of a finger. Living in the south now, it's a little more difficult to come across the best, especially with strawberries. So when spring comes around, I'm always looking for some excuse to revolve several recipes around this particular fruit.


This was my Easter dessert, and it was a complete accident. I was working on this layered cake which was not supposed to be frosted on the outside (thus keeping with the layered look). Turns out it was pretty dang ugly, so I went ahead and frosted the outside. Then, I realized that I still had two cases of strawberries leftover, which never happens. It was destiny. 


There are a few different aspects to this recipe, so bear with me. It really is quite simple, incredibly fresh and surprisingly light.

Chocolate ganache:
Ingredients:
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:


Combine both ingredients in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes and whisk until smooth. 


Microwave for one more minute and whisk again.


Poor into a separate container and refrigerate for an hour. It should be a fudge-like consistency. Using a stand or hand mixer, mix continuously until ganache is frosting-like and whips to a peak (it should resemble a chocolate mousse). Set aside.

Chocolate cake:
Ingredients:
1 package chocolate cake and ingredients to make

Directions:


Prepare cake according to instructions. Divide each cake mix into three 9" round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until baked thoroughly. Set aside to cool.


A little trick that I use: I always somehow end up with cakes that are all different heights (I lack the ability to decipher dimensions because of my poor eyesight. Or because I'm too lazy to figure it out). So what I do is dip a fork into the first cake before it's baked (so I dip it into the prepared cake mix in the pan) and let it dry on the fork (about 10 minutes). I then hold that fork inside the next cake pan and pour the batter until it's reached the top of the fork's dried cake batter, signifying that it is just as full as the other cake pan was. This gives you the better probability of the cakes being the same height.

Did I explain that okay? I feel like I over-complicated it. Sorry.

Other ingredients:
3 packages of strawberries
2 containers cream cheese frosting

Frosting directions:
This isn't as much a direction as it is a suggestion. I heard a rumor that by mixing one container of frosting, you can double the amount.


So you're going to go ahead and grab a can of cream cheese frosting, unless, of course, you're a frosting snob. In that case, make it yourself.


Whip it up nice 'n good. The frosting absorbs oxygen as it mixes, which causes it to increase in size. That means fewer calories per serving for you, and more coins in your pocket since you don't have to buy as much.

Assembly-Layer in the following order:


Cake, chocolate ganache...


...cream cheese frosting, cut up strawberries (as much as you'd like)...

Continue layering until you've topped with the third cake. Frost the entire cake with the cream cheese frosting. I also used some of the leftover chocolate ganache and swirled it into the cream cheese frosting on the outside of the cake. I thought it looked nice.


Thinly slice strawberries so they are as thin/light as possible (the heavier/thicker they are, the less likely they are to stay). Gently press strawberry slices against frosting. Arrange larger pieces of strawberries at base and very top of cake, topping with a few whole strawberries.


Take your cake into a field and take several pictures of it. Then serve. Or, if you don't have a food blog, feel free to skip that first step and dig in.

Love and strawberries-at-any-cost,



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