My daughter's ninth birthday menu has been a couple months in the planning ... birthday dessert choices were revisited almost daily ... and it finally settled on: chocolate layer cake with strawberries. Not too difficult.
I like to make cakes from scratch — that way I know what goes into them. My Mum has a great chocolate cake recipe, but it calls for self-rising flour which is not the same quality here in the USA ... and before you suggest it — yes, I did look on the internet and there are dozens of make-your-own self-rising flour recipes out there ... but I am still experimenting with these, and this occasion was not experiment time. I needed a good, reliable recipe, fast.
My go-to recipe book is the good ol' "Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook" and it just so happens that their recipe is almost identical to my Mum's, but uses all-purpose flour+baking soda+baking powder+salt :) Chocolate Cake recipe (link).
NOTE: I made a couple substitutions ... I used dark chocolate cocoa powder for extra richness, and I substituted 1/4 c of berry flavored applesauce (one of those squeezy pouches) for 1/4 c of the (3/4 c) butter, which infused a subtle but delicious berry flavor in the chocolate cake, and made it beautifully moist. I also made the cake the night before and froze it.
Now, for the frosting ... I am not very good at making frosting and my daughter doesn't like creamy or buttery frostings (which I prefer.) It just so happens that my friend and awesome foodie blogger Rebecca has this fantastic and fool-proof ganache recipe (link) and I decided to try it for the first time ... all I can say (and my family too) is WOW!! If I can do it, anyone can!
NOTE: For my ganache, I used a 10oz packet of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate chips, and a half-pint (8oz) of heavy whipping cream.
I had two layers of cake (still defrosting), with homemade strawberry jam and sliced strawberries in between, and then I slathered the whole thing in the slightly-cooled-but-still-liquid ganache ... I should have let the ganache cool just a little longer, but it was okay.
NOTE: Let the ganache cool/set a little before placing anything on top! The strawberries slid right off while it was slick!
Whole strawberries (de-leaved!) on top, sliced in between layers, and halved around bottom edge. I used 32oz (nearly 1kg) of strawberries by the time it was all done!
Did I mention I had an apprentice baker helping me?
To my delight, it was thoroughly enjoyed by the birthday girl and family members who said it might be my best dessert offering yet!! YUM!