Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Buttercream
Make the Strawberry Concentrate:
Combine the strawberries and sugar in a bowl. Cover and let macerate for one hour until very juicy. Pour berries and liquid into a colander set over a bowl; let drain for 15 minutes until most of the liquid has drained off. Scoop out 1 cup of the strawberries and set aside in the refrigerator (these will be mixed into the cake batter).
Pour the strawberry juice and the rest of the strawberries, into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepan to remove the seeds, then add the vanilla bean to the saucepan; there will be about a cup of liquid. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a concentrated syrup; let it reduce to about 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of syrup. Remove the vanilla bean and transfer the concentrate to a container. Refrigerate until completely cooled. This concentrate will be used to flavor the buttercream. (It will be very gooey and jelly-like once chilled.)
Bake the Chocolate Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray the bottoms only of three 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. (If you don't have three pans, you can divide the batter between two pans, then split each cake layer into 2 layers for a total of 4 layers instead of 3.)
In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; mix on low until combined then mix on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in the 1 cup reserved strawberries and the chocolate chunks.
Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 21-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely.
Once cooled, level each cake with a cake leveler or sharp knife.
Make the Strawberry Buttercream:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for one minute. Add all of the strawberry concentrate and beat until incorporated. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix on low to combine then increase speed to medium-high and whip for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy. If too thick, add milk, one tablespoon at a time, as needed.
Assembling the cake:
Scoop the buttercream into a pastry bag (or plastic zip lock bag) fitted with the star tip. Make sure the cake layers are brushed free of crumbs. Place one layer of cake on a cake board. Pipe the buttercream around the cake, starting at the outer edge and ending in the center. Place the 2nd layer of cake on the butter cream and press down very gently. Repeat with another layer of buttercream and the 3rd layer of cake.
Pipe the buttercream on the top layer of cake. Garnish with chocolate-dipped strawberries, if desired.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen