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Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cake

Beignets, Butter, and Bourbon
 




This weekend, I made a dark chocolate cake with strawberry buttercream in honor of my mom’s birthday! Read on to hear more about my mom and how I was inspired by pie to make this cake.


I don’t know about y’all, but my mom is the backbone of our family. Yes, she needles us to make sure the house is perfect and looks nice, but she also goes above and beyond to make sure we are surrounded with love and care. For every birthday and holiday, she makes sure we each have something special, so we know how much she loves and appreciates us.  She always goes out of her way to make everyone feel seen and cherished. 

She is one of the best people I know, and everything I know about being a kind, loving person comes from her.

Now, rewind to last week.  Her birthday is June 10th, and her and my dad planned a lovely camping trip.  They have an RV, and they love to spend any long weekend they can get traveling.  Even though she was going to be gone on the night of her actual birthday, I still wanted to make sure I made her something I knew she’d love. [And love this, she did.  She even took extra slices with her to eat while camping!]

Cake-spiration

There are not many guarantees in life, but my mother’s relationship with chocolate will always be one of them.  While she has been married to my father for 30+ years, her true love is chocolate—and maybe ice cream.  Thus, I knew the cake had to be chocolate something.

Then, my cousin came home with a giant bucket of strawberries. Someone at work went to Sugar Hill Farms, a you-pick farm, and came back with buckets of berries to burn.  Luckily, they gifted us with two massive buckets, leaving us with a giant pile of strawberries.  And so, a dark chocolate cake with strawberry buttercream was born.

There are few pairings as classic (and perfect) as chocolate and strawberries. I especially love when you pair a slightly bitter dark chocolate with the sweet acidity of a ripe strawberry. There is nothing quite like it. This cake emphasizes that pairing by combining a rich, moist chocolate cake and a flavor-packed, strawberry buttercream.

The secret?

Roasted strawberries!

This image throws the three layers of the cake.  Between each layer there is strawberry buttercream and strawberry jam.

Why roasted strawberry buttercream is superior…

When I make strawberry frosting, I usually use freeze-dried strawberries that you can buy in the fruit/nut aisle at the grocery store. If you grind them up, they make a fine powder that adds a ton of flavor to your buttercream without adding moisture.

The reason you can’t really just add chopped strawberries to American buttercream is all the water in the fruit. It does not pair well, and it will cause your buttercream to be a separated, soupy mess. AKA the exact thing you don’t want when you’re trying to use the buttercream to build a layer cake.

While freeze-dried strawberries make a perfectly fine buttercream, I always felt that it didn’t pack the full flavor that fresh strawberries bring to the table. Sometimes it felt a little flat. Granted, this could be more of my need to buy the cheapest option when I go to the grocery store. There could be a truly delicious option out there that I’m missing out on!

Taking Inspiration from Pie

Recently, I bought Erin Jeanne McDowell’s The Book on Pie. Life changing. One, it inspired me to make more pie. Two, it’s full of stunning food photos that make me want to be a better photographer. And third, it introduced me to the wonder and delightful thing that is a roasted strawberry pie. This led me to make a roasted strawberry rhubarb pie that was nothing short of life changing. Roasting the strawberries really brought out the flavor in a way that I wasn’t expecting.

Inspired, I decided to try roasting the strawberries for buttercream. Where Erin tosses hers in sugar to create a syrupy concoction , I placed them in plain to dry them out. After about two hours at 275F, most of the moisture evaporated, leaving about 1/10 of the volume.

I didn’t roast them until they were hard and brittle though. I wanted some body still to the strawberries, but I didn’t want them so moist they’d break my buttercream. When they had shrunk in size and darkened in color, I was able to pull them out and let them cool completely overnight. The next day, I blended the roasted berries with a tablespoon of whipping cream to make a beautifully colored paste that I added to my vanilla buttercream.

The end result is a fantastic strawberry buttercream that I may. or may not, have eaten by the spoonful.

Bringing it Together with a Jam

Then, I took some more strawberries, stirred them with some sugar, and boiled them until they were nothing but a thick sauce.  Paired with some chocolate ganache, I filled the cake between the layers, providing some extra moisture and a second layer of strawberry and chocolate flavor. 

Each bite is rich and balanced between the sweet jam, the bite of the strawberry frosting, and the sweet and bitter dark chocolate cake layers.  I think I might just have to ask for this cake for my next birthday! 

If you don’t want to make a huge cake, this frosting would also be great on cupcakes. Check out the cupcake version of this cake recipe here, then, I would probably half the roasted strawberry frosting recipe to make up for the difference.

–With love and butter, Kristi


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  • Prep time: 35 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Total time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Serves: 8" layer cake

There are few pairings as classic (and perfect) as chocolate and strawberries. Each bite is rich and balanced between the sweet jam, the bite of the strawberry frosting, and the sweet and bitter dark chocolate cake layers.

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups dark cocoa powder
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp espresso powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups boiling water

Roasted Strawberry American Buttercream

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, + 1 tbsp
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 6 cups fresh, chopped strawberries (roasted)
  • 1 cup strawberry jam

Instructions

Chocolate Cake

  • 1)

    Preheat oven to 350F.

  • 2)

    Whisk together dry ingredients.

  • 3)

    Add whisked eggs and oil.

  • 4)

    While whisking, pour in boiling water.

  • 5)

    Pour batter into 3, 8″ greased and lined cake pans.  Bake for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

  • 6)

    Let cool completely before icing.

Roasted Strawberries

  • 1)

    Preheat oven to 350F.

  • 2)

    Take 6 cups chopped strawberries and spread on a lined baking sheet. Place in oven.  Stir every 30 minutes.

     

  • 3)

    After an hour and a half, the strawberries will be reduced significantly in volume and will have darkened in color. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

     

  • 4)

    Using a blender, blend with 1 tbsp of heavy cream until a paste is formed.  Set aside.

Roasted Strawberry American Buttercream

  • 1)

    In a stand mixer, beat butter for 3 to 5 minutes, until the color has lightened and the texture is fluffy.

  • 2)

    Slowly add in powdered sugar, mixing in about 1 cup at a time until fully combined.  It will clump at first, but it will smooth out if added in installments.

  • 3)

    Add vanilla, heavy cream, and roasted strawberries. Beat until fully combined.

  • 4)

    Before decorating the cake, stir the frosting vigorously to remove any potential air-pockets to ensure a smooth buttercream finish on your cake.

Cake Assembly

  • 1)

    Place first layer of cake on stand and spread a thin layer of buttercream.  Pipe a border around the edge of the cake.  Place half of the strawberry jam in the center.

  • 2)

    Place the next layer of cake on top and repeat the previous steps.

  • 3)

    Place the third layer on top.  Crumb coat your cake with a thin layer of buttercream to catch any cake crumbs.  Place in fridge for 15 minutes until buttercream is set.

  • 4)

    Frost the cake fully and let set again. Top with melted (and slightly cooled) chocolate if desired.

  • 5)

    Serve and enjoy!

3 Comments

  • Peggy Fleetwood

    June 17, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    This tribute to me means more than you know. I’m so proud of you and what you are sharing with the world. And you know our tradition of giving of ourselves to others by feeding them and you do that with every bite and every word. Thank you my beautiful daughter for being my inspiration!
    We are gushy and so was this luscious cake, dripping with strawberry filling and chocolate ganache in every bite, with dark chocolate cake and strawberry cream … wow!!! Maybe the best slice of cake I have ever had!!!
    Love,
    Mom

     
    1. Kristi Fleetwood

      June 17, 2021 at 4:52 pm

      Love ya mom! Thanks for instilling a love of baking in me. I wouldn’t be here doing this if you didn’t think Easy Bake Ovens were a waste of time when we had a perfectly good oven to use (and then proceeded to let me help you bake when I could barely hold a wooden spoon). <3<3

       
  • JoAnna Gunnufsen Willis

    June 17, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    Sounds so delicious! I would have never thought of roasting the strawberries. Love the blog!

     

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