Mixing Bowl: Recipes!
A party or gathering is an opportunity to give.
It is an offering, an act of creativity.
Berries & Chocolate Cake
With Chocolate Shards & Homemade Whipping Cream with Orange Zest
You can make your cake by scratch, and I have, but to save time I suggest using a cake mix. Any brand will do. My favorite is Whole Foods 365 Classic Chocolate Cake Mix, it is delicious. I buy one box which will make 2 layers. If it's a large party I will buy 2 boxes and bake 4 layers, I will use 3 and freeze the spare.
For easy assembly these steps can be done the day before and kept in the refrigerator:
Make your Cake
Make your Simple Strawberry Sauce.
Prepare Homemade Whipped Cream.
Zest an Orange
Cut shards and grate curls of chocolate.
Make Your Cake
Assemble just prior to serving
Pan prep – I found a wonderfully detailed post on the how’s and why’s of prepping your pans. Clink here for that information.
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Follow the directions on the box then divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake following the directions on the box or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the baked cake layers to a wire rack and let cool in the pans at least 30 minutes before inverting onto the rack to cool completely. If preparing ahead of time place in individual Ziploc bags and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Simple Strawberry Sauce
You only need 2 ingredients for the strawberry sauce - fresh strawberries and sugar. The sugar helps the strawberries release all their delicious juices.
1 lb. strawberries (reserve the 3 nicest ones to garnish the top, do not hull and leave stem on.)
¼ cup sugar
Wash and hull your strawberries, cut up and place in a bowl.
Pour sugar over them, stirring to thoroughly coat.
Let them set for at least 30 minutes. (I usually do this the night before. I like to put them in a large Ziploc bag and turn them over a couple of times.)
Homemade Whipped Cream
The best thing about homemade whipping cream is how easy it is to make and you can add any flavors you want to it. You can use vanilla, almond, maple to name a few. You can also add the zest of a lemon or lime or of an orange as we are in this recipe.
Tip: For best results make sure your heavy whipping cream, whisk and bowl are ice cold.
2 Cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Zest from 1 orange, reserving some to sprinkle on top of your cake (see below)
Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3-5 minutes.
Once peaks form immediately beat in sugar, vanilla and orange zest. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.
Use immediately or cover and chill in the refrigerator.
Orange zest is the colored outside portion of its peel. It brings a wonderful citrusy flavor to recipes. Here’s the most important part of how to zest an orange: You want the colorful part of the peel only, not the white pith! The pith has a bitter flavor and should be avoided.
Tip: Always wash and dry your orange before zesting.
Using the smallest grater you have slide the orange down the grater with light pressure and turn your orange a little with each swipe. Be careful to keep your fingers out of the way.
Cover and store in the refrigerator.
Chocolate Shards and Curls
Tip: I make this as simple as possible, I use regular Hershey Chocolate Bars. It is easiest to cut shards at room temperature and to peel curls and cut shavings when the bars have been in the freezer. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to use. I cut more shards then I need as some tips break off and then I use the best ones to top the cake.
Ingredients: 3-4 Hershey Chocolate Bars (no nuts)
Directions for shards and curls:
Unwrap your room temperature chocolate bars and place on waxed paper. Cut in elongated triangles to get the shard shapes you want. Enjoy experimenting, a variety of shards really adds fun to your presentation.
To make curls, use a standard vegetable peeler on your room temperature chocolate bar. Gently peel strips off onto a flat plate, rotating the bar as the chocolate warms in your hands. Sometimes the curls just end up being shavings and I like that too! Store in refrigerator to make firm before placing on dessert.
To Assemble the Cake
I usually invert my cake layers so if it is slightly rounded it will even it out, but if necessary cut the crowns off each cake layer. (I use dental floss for this.) Place the first cake layer on a serving platter, I like to use a raised glass platter.
Spread with a layer of Whipped Cream then repeat with your top layer.
Garnish the top with the 3 reserved strawberries and, place your shards around the strawberries, gently pushing down into cake to stabilize. Sprinkle with chocolate curls and reserved orange zest.
Decorate the bottom of the cake with remaining chocolate shards and curls.
Have bowls of additional whipped cream, strawberries and chocolate shards when platting individual servings.
Tip: For this recipe you can also use a brownie mix, my preferred brand is Ghirardelli and my favorite is the dark chocolate with chocolate chips included, but any would be great! When using a brownie mix I don’t stack or layer. You can embellish the top of the brownie the same way you would a tiered cake.