Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Mousse and Mascarpone Frosting

Valentine’s Day! The first excuse  occasion of the year to make a cake. I saw this cake on  Chef Dennis’ Google+ post and knew that Chris Henry would love it (and I wanted to use up my huge stash of frozen strawberries from last summer).

Method

Cake. The first problem was that the recipe called for FOUR 9 inch round tins. I have ONE 9 inch cake tin and nope, I refuse to buy another 3 baking tins just for this recipe. Then I remembered a layered carrot cake recipe in Cook’s Illustrated. It solved the very scary problem of tender cake crumbling when sliced through horizontally simply by not doing it. The cake was baked in a cookie sheet, divided into 3 rectangles and then stacked on top of each other. I decided to do the same. Except that on baking day, I realized that I was almost out of parchment paper…why does these things happen to me?? I only had enough to line a smaller and deeper rectangular cake tin so I decided that would have to do, maybe I would have a very tall and narrow cake?chocolate cake slab I made the cake portion exactly according to Chef Dennis’ recipe except that with my bigger cake I had to increase the baking time by 15 minutes, to a total of 40 minutes. I appreciated how the recipe reminded me to let the wet ingredients for the cake to warm up to room temperature before adding them to the softened butter. I usually forget to do that, add fridge cold eggs to my creamed butter and end up with solid butter lumps in my batter.

As per the instructions, I let the cake rest in the tin for 10 minutes then turned it out onto the wire rack and it promptly cracked. This might be because the recipe was working with 4 thin discs while I had a huge slab.  On hindside I should have expected this and followed the method utilized by most cakes in the Ottolenghi’s Cookbook and wait at least 3 hours before turning the cake out. Oh well, there would be lots of frosting right? Frosting covers everything so I decided to press on bravely. In any case the cake smelled heavenly so I wasn’t about to toss it out because of how it looked.

However, it was also apparent that I would have to slice through my cake horizontally into 2 slabs and make another vertical cut because the slab was pretty thick. 4 layers of that would not make a structurally sound cake. I left it to cool for 4 hour before attempting any dissecting and it went surprising well!

Strawberry mousse. Instead of passable early season fresh strawberries, I used my stash of frozen strawberries from last summer and the strawberry syrup was DELICIOUS.  The flavor was obviously more muted after folding in the whipped cream so the strawberry flavor could probably be enhanced if I decrease the amount of cream in the mousse. It is also probably worth a try to dissolve the sugar in hot water then add it to pureed strawberries to avoid boiling (and driving off some volatiles) the strawberry puree- sugar mixture.

Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting. The original recipe required 16 oz of mascarpone, 4 cups of icing sugar and 4 oz of melted choclate. I like frosting but that does sounds a little excessive and I prefer a lighter, whipped cream based frosting. I got some inspiration from this Martha Steward’s mascapone frosting recipe with 8 oz of mascapone, 1/2 cup of icing sugar 1 cup of cream and yes there was plenty of subtly sweet frosting to go around. I still wanted the vanilla and chocolate in the frosting so I added them to the whipped mascapone and icing sugar before folding in the whipped cream. However I misread Chef’s Denis’ recipe and forgot to add in the chocolate gradually so that might be why my mascapone mixture was lumpy after I dumped all the chocolate in at once 😦

Results

A pretty cake this is not but does it taste good? Oh yeah. The tangy strawberry mousse balances the rich chocolate cake and mascapone frosting perfectly. Would I do it again? Definitely and I’m sure It would look much prettier the next time.

The Recipe

Chocolate Cake
  • 2⅔ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 8 oz unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Prepare a rectangular cake tin (preferably a baking sheet) with parchment paper and lightly coating the sides and paper with butter
  2. Preheat oven to 350°C.
  3. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda, cocoa and sugar together, set aside.
  4. Make sure that the butter, yogurt and eggs are at room temperature.
  5. In the bowl of your mixer whip the softened butter and yogurt together .
  6. Add the eggs one at a time fully incorporating before adding another, and remember to scrape down your bowl in between each addition.
  7. Add vanilla and mix until blended.
  8. Add the dry ingredients and mix with the electric mixer just enough to blend them into the wet ingredients.
  9. Spread batter evenly using an offset spatula in the prepared tin/baking sheet.
  10. Bake about 40 minutes (for rectangular cake tin, with convection switched on) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Cool on wire rack for 3 hours then remove from pan to continue cooling.
Strawberry Mousse Filling
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 cups sliced cleaned strawberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 envelope gelatin
  1. Sprinkle gelatin over ¼ cup water in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, puree 2 cups sliced strawberries and ½ cup granulated sugar until smooth. If using frozen strawberries, a grainy puree is fine, the ice crystals will melt when heated.
  3. Transfer strawberry mixture to a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add gelatin to strawberry mixture, stirring constantly until gelatin dissolves.
  4. Cover and chill until slightly thickened about 30 minutes, stir the mixture every 10 minutes. (For food safety reasons, I let the mixture cool off to room temperature before sticking it into the refrigerator to avoid raising the temperature of the refrigerator.)
  5. Whip cream at low speed until foamy; gradually increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form.
  6. Fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture until well blended. Cover and chill 30 minutes or just until mixture has thickened enough to be used as filling.
  7. Spread about 1 cup Strawberry Mousse between each cake layer, cover and chill for 3 hours or until mousse is set.
Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting
  • 2 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 8 ounces Mascarpone
  • ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips to garnish top of cake
  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler/ saucepan put on a simmer burner.
  2. In an electric mixer, whip the cream just until stiff peaks form but do not over whip to avoid a lumpy frosting. Remove into a bowl.
  3. Mix the confectioner’s sugar and mascarpone with the electric mixer till light and fluffy, mix in the vanilla and drizzle in the melted chocolate slowly while mixing continuously.
  4. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture in 3 additions.
  5. Frost the assembled cake immediately.
  6. The cake should be refrigerated but the flavors (especially the strawberry mousse’s) comes out best if the cake is rested at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
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