Make Valentine’s Day Extra Sweet

Valentine's Day Cake

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about romantic desserts! Chocolate and strawberries are a perfect fit, and there’s no better way to say “I love you” than with this layer cake. It’s beautiful and sweet, just like that special someone in your life.

It’s also packed full of a whopping 4 cups of California Strawberries! Clinical research suggests that eating just one serving of eight strawberries is good for the whole body, promoting heart health, diabetes management, supporting brain health, and reducing the risk of some cancers. That’s pretty great for a dessert recipe, isn’t it? And since California Strawberries are available year-round, this cake is perfect not just for Valentine’s Day, but for any occasion that begs for a beautiful cake.

I’ve used an Italian meringue buttercream, which is slightly more advanced, but it also creates a much lighter frosting. It’s less dense. However, if you are new to baking layer cakes and the frosting looks overwhelming, feel free to use you favorite simple chocolate buttercream recipe. It will work perfectly well here!

{check out the recipe video below}

 

Chocolate Cake with Macerated Strawberries
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-12 servings
 
Ingredients
For the Cake:
  • 7 ounces (1½ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 ounces (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For The Macerated Strawberries:
  • 4 cups California Strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • optional: 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (Chambord would be a great choice as well)
For The Buttercream:
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 8 ounces (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
Instructions
Prepare the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 8-inch cake pans with baking spray, and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Sift in the cocoa powder and whisk to combine.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to fully incorporate before adding the next one. Scrape down the bowl after the 2nd and final egg, all the way to the bottom of the bowl. Combine the half-and-half and vanilla. With the mixer on medium-low, swiftly alternate between adding the dry and liquid ingredients until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and then turn the mixer on again briefly to make sure there are no more dry patches.
  4. Divide the batter between the two cake pans, leveling out the top. Bake for 33-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Allow to cool completely.
  5. While the cake is baking, prepare the macerated strawberries. In a medium bowl, stir together the sliced strawberries, sugar, and Grand Marnier, if using. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, stirring periodically.
Prepare the Buttercream:
  1. Place the egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed to begin forming a soft peak.
  2. Meanwhile, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high, and cover until steam begins to form. Remove the cover and cook until the sugar syrup reaches the soft-boil stage, 235-240 degrees F.
  3. Carefully pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl so that it slowly incorporates into the whipping egg whites. Then turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue mixing until the meringue reaches room temperature, approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Once the meringue has cooled, turn the mixer to medium speed. Slowly add the butter, one piece at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically. Once the butter has incorporated, drizzle in the vanilla extract, followed by the melted chocolate.
  5. To frost, spread a generous amount of chocolate buttercream on top of one cake layer, followed by approximately ⅓ of the macerated strawberries (allow them to briefly drain first to keep the cake from becoming saturated). Top with the second layer of cake and cover generously with frosting. Top the cake with the remaining strawberries. Drizzle slices with the macerated strawberry liquid.
Notes
Italian meringue buttercream creates a light and airy chocolate frosting. However, any chocolate buttercream with work with this cake.

 

 

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