Happy Galentine's day, readers! If you aren't on the Galentine's bandwagon, I suggest you get on my level because it is far superior to all that Valentine's day baggage. Invented by Parks & Recreation's Leslie Knope, it is all about celebrating the awesome people (usually ladies, but I'm down with galentines for all) in your life.
I love this day because it isn't concerned about your "marital status" and instead just allows you to celebrate the amazing people around you who support you through the weeks, months and years. I am a big proponent of my female friendships as they have been some of the most formative relationships in my life. I try not to miss an opportunity to tell them how important they are to me.
In honor of the best day of the year, I have an amazing recipe to share. It is a recent concoction of mine, augmented from a few other recipes...
Chocolate-Covered-Strawberry Layer Cake
I had some of my ladies over for a clothing swap a few weeks ago and it was super fun! Everyone brought clothes, jewelry, shoes, accessories that they weren't keen on anymore and we swapped! Of course, it wouldn't be a get-together at my house without sweet treats so I made this cake. The chocolate cake came together beautifully, adapted from a Joy the Baker recipe. The frosting however, is another story! Pictured is the 3rd try-- first two were an attempt at strawberry Italian meringue which did NOT set up at all. Consequently I went for a standard buttercream that I knew would be delish. I still think meringue would be better, but I'd go for a standard (French) next time. Or maybe whipping cream with strawberries folded in. Now I'm hungry.
- 1-1/4c + 2tbs fresh brewed coffee
- 3/4c Dutch cocoa powder
- 2-1/4c sugar
- 1-1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2-1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1-1/4c + 1 tbs buttermilk
- 1c + 2tbs canola oil
- 3 tsp vanilla
- 2-1/2c + 2 tbs all purpose flour (sifted-- seriously. It makes a difference. I know it sounds dumb but really, lumpy cake is no one's fave)
1. Preheat oven to 350F and prep your pans. I used 3- 7" rounds, but 2- 9" would work or a loaf pan. You could even go Joy's route and make a bunt with it. Follow your heart. Cut parchment for the bottom, grease with veggie shortening, and tap flour around the sides and bottom of the pan.
2. Combine coffee and cocoa powder in a small sauce pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking frequently-- remove from heat and let come to room temp
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or other bowl with your hand mixer at the ready), use the whisk attachment to combine sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs, and yolk on low for 1 minute.
4. Add the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and continue mixing on low for another minute or so.
5. Add the (sifted!) flour and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes (ish)
6. Add the coffee/cocoa and continue mixing for another 3 minutes. The batter is loose and that is okay!
7. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes (35-40 for 9" or loaf pans, 1 hour for bunt) or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. I poured 2c per pan, but with three layers, this was gorgeous but hard to cut/eat. It would have worked for 2-layers, but for a 3-layer, I'd reduce the amount to 1-1/3c. I think it would divide nicely between two 9" rounds (2-1/2-3c per pan) or one loaf pan though. You can always make cupcake with leftover batter...(and invite me over)
**Betty baking tip: always set your timer for the lowest time and then test, adding 1-5 minutes based on how done your cake is. Oven peculiarities, altitudes, barometric pressure, ambient temperature all affect how your tasty treats bake. This part is the trial and error part.**
8. Let pans cool 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool fully. I like to make the cake part the night before so they will be totally cooled by the time I try to assemble. I wrap them in plastic wrap so they don't get dried out.
Frosting & Decorations
- 1 or 2 boxes of strawberries, amount depends on how many you want on top/how big of a cake you're making.
- 6 egg whites (room temp)
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 1c + 2 tbs powdered sugar (or very fine granulated sugar)
- 1 tsp vanilla (opt)
- Chocolate sauce (I used store-bought but if you're feeling ambitious, feel free to make your own!
1. Choose which strawberries will be pretty decorations and rough chop the rest. Add 1-2tbs of sugar to the chopped strawberries and smoosh them around. Set aside
2. Whisk egg whites, salt, vanilla and cream of tartar with a mixer on medium-low until foamy.
3. Add the sugar, 1 spoonful at a time. Keep whisking until the sugar dissolves and soft peaks form.
4. Increase speed gradually to medium-high until stiff peaks form-- this takes a while! 8-10 minutes. Having pictures of this would be far too helpful. So, of course, I have none. Suffice it to say that my ability to document takes a dive when I'm under a deadline...
5. Fold chopped strawberries with their juices into meringue. You can add 1-2 drops red food dye if you don't get the pinky color you want just from the strawberries!
6. Assemble the cake by placing the first layer on stand or plate and with an offset spatula, frost the top, add the next layer and repeat. I hate frosting the sides of cakes so I leave it "naked", but you can do whatever you want! I added a little extra frosting to the top and stuck the pretty strawberries around the edge and drizzled with chocolate sauce.
**If meringue sounds intimidating but you still want to make the cake, feel free to use a failsafe buttercream recipe. I love this one from Joe Pastry, it always works and is always tasty. Follow the buttercream instructions and then pick up with folding in the strawberries (step 5).**
The epitome of "make it work"-- you can almost always save a cake from unfrosted failure with good friends, wine and a backup buttercream plan!
It feels great to be done with midterms and back to blogging! Hope you enjoyed this recipe and are having a wonderful Galentine's day! Keep up with all of my recipes and projects by following me on social media. As always, if you have suggestions, comments or questions please leave them below or send me an email [bettybetatester[at]gmail.com] -- xo