What’s a celebration without a cake?! My boyfriend matched with a pediatrics residency Friday, so we threw a big bash last night. Usually for certain celebrations, I have a cake custom made. But those were running me close to 200 bucks each time. I was going broke over cake. This time, I decided to have a go at making my own “celebration” cake. I am so glad I did, because not only did it taste great, it was absolutely beautiful. Everyone thought I bought it!
I love baking cakes, but I had never tried a fancy cake before. Luckily, this one was quite simple to make, although it did take quite a bit of time. To save a little bit of time, I bought a cake mix. Everything else, the ganache, the strawberry puree, and the bark, I made myself.
This cake has so many possibilities. I am sure it would taste great as a vanilla cake, maybe even an almond cake. Heck, maybe even a strawberry cake. Anyways, use your imagination!
Ingredients For Cake:
- 1 box of cake mix, along with required ingredients (oil, water, eggs)
Ingredients For Ganache:
- 1.5 pounds of bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 3 1/3 cups heavy cream
Ingredients For Bark:
- 4 oz milk chocolate, chopped
- 4 oz white chocolate, chopped
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Ingredients For Berry Filling:
- 1/2 container of strawberries, washed and sliced
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- (I also had a bottle of raspberry sauce, so I used this as well)
Ingredients For Topping:
- 2 strawberries sliced into two pieces each.
- chopped peanuts
1. Follow instructions on cake box. Once cooled, wrap each layer in plastic wrap and cool in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
2. Make the berry filling. In a bowl, add the sliced strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and raspberry sauce. Stir and cover. Place in fridge over night.
3. If you want more than two layers, use thread and carefully pull the thread between one cake, dividing it into two. I used three pans, so I had two layers. Some of them did rise in the middle, so I used the thread to even them out.
4. Make the ganache. In a food processor (I used my ninja), grind the bittersweet chocolate into fine pieces. In a pot, heat the cream to where it just starts to boil. Pour the cream into the chocolate, with the motor running. Liquefy until smooth and all chocolate is melted. Immediately pour into a large bowl, and place bowl in another bowl full of ice water. Let it chill for around 20 minutes, and stir often. Don’t let the ganache get stiff. Set aside.
5. Make the bark. This can be done ahead of time. Get out two cookie sheets, and lay down two gallon sized Ziploc bags on each sheet. Put the white chocolate in a microwave safe container, and heat in microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring between each, until almost completely melted. Stir enough to melt the rest and pour into a Ziploc bag. Cut a small corner off, and drizzle white chocolate onto the cookie sheets. Put into fridge and allow 15 minutes to set. Repeat the process with the milk chocolate and let set. Melt the bittersweet chocolate and pour over the white and milk chocolate. Use an offset spatula, or whatever you have around, and gently smooth out the bittersweet chocolate to form a single layer. Let set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. When you are ready to form the bark around the cake, break into pieces.
6. Make the berry spread. Puree the berries, or mash to whatever consistency you like. I mashed them, but I wanted some chunks, so I did not mash completely.
7. Layer the cake. Place one layer of cake on a piece of cardboard or on a cake stand. Put 1/2 of the ganache sauce into a bowl, and whip until the consistency is thick enough to spread as frosting. Leaving enough for the other layers and for sides, spread some ganache on top of a layer. Then spread a layer of berries. Repeat process with the rest of the layers. Spread ganache over the sides of the cake. I also layered the top with ganache frosting.
8. Top the cake. I wanted a glossy finish, so I spread the unwhipped ganache over the top and sides of the cake. It ran over the sides, which gave it a cool look.
9. Decorate. Break the bark into pieces, and using the leftover unwhipped ganache (which will be thicker by now) to use as a glue, stick the bark onto the sides of the cake. Put strawberries in the middle on the top of the cake. Sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve.
Viola! There you have it. A beautiful cake, for any occasion.
*Nuts are optional. I wanted a crunch, so I used them.
*You don’t have to use strawberries. Use any berry you like.
*If you don’t put the cake in the fridge, the bark will start melting.