This month for Improv Challenge, Kristen gave us strawberries and cream as our two ingredients. I could have gone so many different directions with those two ingredients but I’m so happy with the direction I chose. Brace yourself, I’m about to make a bold statement.
This cake may very well be, the BEST thing I’ve ever made. EVER.
I know, I know … With each post, I talk about the wonders of whatever delectable delight I’ve placed in front of you and they’re all wonderful. Truly. I wouldn’t lie to you. But this, this is different. As I ate it I actually thought to myself, “Kate, this is the best thing you’ve ever made.” I’m actually not much of a cake person. I enjoy a few bites but I rarely eat a whole piece and I’m not a fan of a lot of icing. But this cake is definitely my new favorite dessert. The filling is my favorite part. I love balsamic vinegar and I love using it in desserts. The strawberries simmered with the balsamic vinegar into a sweet syrup and folded into homemade whipped cream is beyond wonderful!
To further confirm the deliciousness of this creation, my mother-in-law sent me a text message after her sampling. It said “BEST CAKE EVER!” Just like that, all caps. Now, don’t get me wrong she will always let me know if she’s enjoyed something I’ve made. She’ll say something casually the next time we see one another or chat on the phone but she made a point to give me an immediate critique this time. My friend Mike scoffed down a gigantic piece at 7 o’clock in the morning just because he couldn’t help himself, uttering “It’s just so good. I can’t stop.” through mouthfuls of chocolatey goodness. Oh and this speaks volumes about the lusciousness of this cake… My husband, who doesn’t like strawberries very much and hates vinegar devoured two large pieces!
So what is it that makes this cake so good? Is it the incredibly moist, deeply chocolate cake? Or perhaps it’s the whipped cream filling with the balsamic strawberry syrup? Or maybe, just maybe it’s the rich chocolate ganache which graces the top and deliciously oozes down the sides? I don’t know exactly which thing is “the” thing, all I know is that when it’s all put together and hitting your palate, it’s a marvelous thing.
What’s your all-time favorite dessert?
Now don’t forget to go see what all the other “improvers” cooked up this month!
One Year Ago: Strawberry Shortcake Pie
Chocolate Cake with Balsamic Strawberry Whipped Cream Filling
One recipe Rich & Dark Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups strawberries, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
12 ounces high quality, bittersweet chocolate
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- Make the chocolate cake and cool completely.
- Place strawberries, sugar, balsamic vinegar, vanilla bean seeds and pod into a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat until the strawberries break down and the mixture becomes thick and syrupy. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
- Finely chop the chocolate and place in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, warm 1 cup of the heavy cream until steam starts rising from it. Pour the warm cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth and shiny. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whip the remaining 1 1/4 cups heavy cream until soft peaks begin to form. Sprinkle in the powdered sugar and continue beating until medium stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the cooled strawberry syrup.
- Place one cake layer on cake stand and spread about half of the strawberry whipped cream over it. Top with second cake layer. Spread desired amount of remaining strawberry whipped cream over the top of the cake.
- Spoon the ganache of the top, gently spread it to the edge of the cake so that some falls down the sides. Top with fresh-cut strawberries. Allow the ganache to set. Keep refrigerated but allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving.