I was conflicted on how to approach today's blog. Should I present my whole Mother's Day lunch....or should I just focus on the show stopper? Given the title of the blog, you have probably guessed which way I decided to go.
Dessert in my family is a given. I can honestly say I don't think anyone in my family has EVER hosted a family gathering that didn't include dessert (almost always homemade)...from rice krispie treats with peanut butter, to cookies of endless varieties, to cake or pie, to lemon bars, to homemade caramel popcorn balls, ice cream or even peanut brittle. Watch out when a big holiday comes around! Dessert is the ultimate end to any family meal!
Today Hubby and I hosted my Mom, Step Dad and Sister for Mother's Day lunch. Guess what element of this 3 course meal I thought about first? Mom loves chocolate covered strawberries, but I didn't want to do that. I wanted something more...This was a perfect opportunity to use Melissa Murphy's chocolate cake recipe that I tried out a few weeks back when the Sweet Melissa Sundays baking group made Chocolate Malted Layer Cake. This chocolate cake recipe kicks butt! With some fresh strawberries and whipped cream frosting it made for an extra special butt kicking Mother's Day dessert.
I debated a bit about what direction to go with the frosting. I enjoy buttercream, but sometimes find it to be too rich. My aunt is a cake decorator by profession and she always uses whipped cream frosting on her cakes....which is absolutely delicious. But I have never made whipped cream frosting before so I went in search of a recipe online. I came across one that immediately caught my eye....it was titled "Sturdy Whipped Cream Frosting". It was sturdy, yet light and delicious. Cream cheese serves as the heavy lifter in this frosting. I did make some modifications (of course). I used full fat cream cheese and all vanilla extract instead of part vanilla and part almond. I also added an additional 1/3 cup of sugar to counterbalance the tang of the cream cheese.
The end result...
...an exceedingly moist deep chocolate cake with fresh macerated strawberries and light and creamy whipped cream frosting. The family loved it. I purposely served hefty portions of cake because there was no way I could make a dent in the leftovers. Every plate was clean...my sister kept picking at the minuscule bits of cake and smears of frosting dotting her plate. The only way she could have done a better job would have been by licking it! I kept one slice for myself and sent the remainder of the cake home with Mom. Looking forward to a special treat for breakfast tomorrow morning!
Happy Mother's Day Mom. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to make this yummy cake. I love you!
Recipe - Chocolate Layer Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Whipped Cream Frosting
Chocolate Cake from Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy:
6 oz best quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup best quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup sour cream
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups hot strong coffee (I substituted hot water with 2 tsp cocoa powder dissolved)
Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Butter and flour two 9x2 inch round cake pans. Line each pan with a 9 inch round of parchment paper.
In the top of a double boiler set over simmering, not boiling, water, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. When the chocolate is completely melted, whisk in the vegetable oil until completely smooth. Remove from the heat, but keep warm over the hot water.
In the bowl of an electric mixed fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and salt and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and eggs until smooth.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, and mix until combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the melted chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Add the hot coffee (or hot water with cocoa powder) in a stream and mix until combined. The batter will be loose.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 25 minutes before turning out the layers onto the rack. Cool completely before finishing.
16 oz of fresh strawberries sliced 1/4 inch thick, reserve 3 whole strawberries (each about the same size)
1/3 cup of sugar
Mix sliced strawberries with the sugar and set aside for 15 minutes. Drain the juice off the strawberries prior to using in the cake layers.
Sturdy Whipped Cream Frosting:
1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened (I used full fat)
1/2 cup white sugar (I used 1/2 cup plus an additional 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (I used all vanilla extract)
2 cups heavy cream
Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and almond extract in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth. While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.
Slice each layer of the cake in half. Separate the first layer and place it on the plate or cake stand you plan to serve it on. Slip 4-5 pieces of parchment paper underneath the cake allowing the parchment to serve as a protective covering for your serving dish while you decorate. Spread frosting on the first layer leaving a higher layer of frosting around the edge about a half inch wide to create a well. Fill in the well evenly with the strawberry mixture. Place the next cake layer on top and repeat the frosting and filling instructions 2 more times. Once all the layers are assembled put a very light "crumb coat" of frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Place the cake and remaining frosting in the refrigerator to "set" for at least an hour. Remove cake from the refrigerator and use the remaining frosting to generously cover the cake. Remove protective parchment and top the cake with whole reserved strawberries. Serve cake at room temperature.