Thursday, October 8, 2009

Strawberrry-White Chocolate Mousse Cake

My friend Skylar and I baked a fabulous cake last Sunday based on a recipe in her favorite cookbook that is all about chocolate. Skylar is quite the little baker for a 6th grader — she has lots of talent in the kitchen and is a ton of fun to cook and bake with.

I tweaked the recipe a little as we went, so this is our own version. White chocolate can be temperamental to work with, so be cautious when melting it and combining it with other ingredients. Buying high-quality chocolate is important. Once white chocolate begins to separate (solids and milk fat pull apart and it looks curdled), it can be next to impossible to smooth it back out. This happened to us when we were making the filling, but we were able to smooth it out with a touch more cream. It wasn't perfect in appearance, but once the cake was assembled, it was hardly noticeable and the taste was still fantastic.

4 ounces white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

9 ounces white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons strawberry preserves
2 pints fresh strawberries, sliced

2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup strawberry preserves
1/2 pint strawberries, some sliced, some whole for decoration

Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease and flour two 9-inch layer cake pans. Melt chocolate and cream in a double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in milk and vanilla and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy — about 3 to 5 minutes — making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you mix. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Alternately, add flour and melted chocolate to the egg mixture in batches until blended. Pour mixture evenly into pans.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Make the mousse filling. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and cream until smooth. stir in strawberry preserves. Transfer to a bowl and allow to chill until just set. Whip with an electric mixer just until fluffy and strong enough to spread.

Assemble the cake. Spread half of mousse filling on each cake. On one of the cakes, generously layer sliced strawberries. Invert other cake on top of the one with the strawberries so that layers consist of cake, mousse, strawberries, mousse, cake.

Make icing. With an electric mixer, whip together cream, vanilla and preserves until firm peaks are formed. Spread icing evenly over cake. Used excess icing to decorate. You can use pastry bag, or simply add dollops of icing with a spoon and top them with sliced strawberries. Decorate cake with remaining strawberries as you desire.


Serves 10

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