Baking For Us: Strawberry Chocolate Celebration Cake
There she is, families, friends, and fans. Our book!
We could not be happier to have In the Small Kitchen in our hands. It’s been a year and a half since we landed a book deal, and in spite of the hard work we were doing on the blog and in the kitchen, every day has really been a countdown to this one.
So thank you for reading, commenting, and sticking with us!
To celebrate, of course, we baked a cake. It has chocolate layers, sliced strawberries, and white chocolate whipped cream, plus a drizzle of cognac to help get the party started.
Check out our homepage to see upcoming book events in your area. We’ll be at the Brooklyn Kitchen tonight, in LA and San Francisco next week, and Washington DC on June 10th. Then back to New York for a few more readings.
So take a moment to open up our book–break in that brand new spine. And whatever you decide to make from it first, toast to us with a glass of bubbly or a slice of Strawberry Chocolate Celebration Cake.
From our kitchens, where published authors cook and eat, to yours,
Cara and Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS
Strawberry-Chocolate Celebration Cake
What makes something celebration worthy? For us, it’s chocolate and rich cream, bright fruit and a shot of booze. Cara’s mom suggested a chocolate-heavy twist on spring’s classic Strawberry Shortcake, and we complied.
Though this cake is a beauty, it’s almost a trifle in disguise, so don’t be miffed if it gets a little messy when you cut into it. Also, this cake is best if it sits, frosted, 1-2 hours in the fridge so plan accordingly.
1 1/2 cups cream
8 ounces good-quality white chocolate (ingredients should contain cocoa butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla
16 ounces strawberries
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cognac
1 8×8-inch square Chocolate Genoise (recipe follows)
At least 6 hours before serving place the cream in a saucepan. Chop the white chocolate coarsely and place it in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a boil slowly, then pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minutes, then stir thoroughly but gently to melt the chocolate. Let rest for about 15 minutes, the stir it again to make sure all the chocolate is melted. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
About an hour before you’re going to frost the cake, trim the strawberries and cut them into 1/4-inch slices. Place in a large, nonreactive mixing bowl and toss with the sugar. Refrigerate for 1 hour and not more than 2.
Place a sieve over another bowl and pour the strawberries into it, capturing the juice that has collected. Add the cognac to the juices and swirl to combine. Return the strawberries to their original bowl.
When ready to frost, beat the cold white chocolate-cream mixture (ganache) with a handheld mixer until it is thickened and holds stiff peaks, about 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to overbeat–you just want the ganache to be spreadable.
To assemble: cut the chocolate genoise in half both horizontally and vertically. That means you’ll have four rectangles, each half the thickness and half the width of the orignal square.
Set one rectangle on a cake plate. If you tend to be messy, tear four strips of wax paper and make a border around the cake so the plate will stay clean. Brush the layer with some of the strawberry juice-cognac mixture, then layer sliced strawberries across the surface in an overlapping pattern. Place the next layer on top and brush with more of the strawberry juice mixture. Now spread about 1/2 inch worth of whipped ganache across the surface. Place the next cake layer on top, spread with strawberry juice and layer with more strawberries, reserving about 1/2 cup of slices for decorating the top. Finally, place the last cake layer on top and spread with the remaining strawberry juice. Frost the top and sides with whipped ganache. Cover with plastic wrap (try to do it loosely, but you may still have to neaten the frosting after) and place in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
Just before serving, decorate with the remaining sliced strawberries.
Adapted from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 large eggs
3 large ego yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Butter an 8-inch square pan. Place a square of parchment at the bottom and butter that too.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine the flour, cornstarch, and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
Fill a pot halfway with water and bring it to a boil, then keep it going at a simmer. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks in a mixing bowl (the bowl for your electric mixer, if you have one), then add the salt and the sugar, slowly. Place the bowl in the pot of simmering water, and whisk for about 1 minute, until the egg mixture is about 115°F . I like to drizzle some on my wrist; it should feel hotter than room temperature, but not burning.
Remove the bowl from the pot and add the vanilla. Beat the egg mixture until tripled in size, lightened, and very fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
Add a third of the flour mixture to a sifter and sift it over the top of the eggs. Fold it in gently but thoroughly. Repeat with half of what remains, then with the final third of the flour.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and shake the pan to distribute it evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until risen and firm to the touch.
Remove from the oven and immediately run a butter knife or offset spatula around the edges. Invert onto a baking sheet, then place a rack on top and invert again. Let cool completely. This can be made 1-2 days ahead of time; wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.