(photos coming soon)

I made these cakes for the girls’ birthdays.  They were very good and very rich–after having some in the afternoon, Amie and I hardly felt hungry for lunch.  It’s a very nice, elegant dessert for special occassions.  You can get creative with the filling as I did, or keep it simple and just use the ganache frosting in between the layers.  By the way, the ganache is really good–you’ll never want to go back to a can of store-bought frosting again.

On that note, I’ll get on my soap-box for a moment and put in a plug for making stuff from scratch.  Things like cake or pancakes or cornbread that we usually make from a store-bought mix, are really easy to just make from scratch, using stuff that you already have on hand.  It takes maybe 2 extra minutes to measure out the dry ingredients individually instead of dumping them out of a mix, but it costs significantly less, it tastes significantly better, and you avoid all the mysterious, unpronounceable additives and preservatives that you would never choose to put into your food.  Of course this chocolate cake isn’t exactly healthy, but I feel a lot better about the ingredients that went into these cakes than whatever junk goes into a store-bought cake mix (or container of frosting).  End of rant.

The recipe for the cake and the ganache frosting can be found here.  This recipe uses butter in the ganache, making it more like a typical frosting, as opposed to a more standard ganache which is just chocolate and cream.  I used two 4 oz Ghirardelli’s baking bars (60% cacao), plus the last ounce an 85% chocolate bar that Amie had given me for Valentine’s Day, and some semi-sweet chocolate chips to add up to the 10 oz of chocolate the recipe calls for.  You want to use decent chocolate, and I would use something a bit darker than what you might like to eat plain, since the cream and butter make it seem less intense.  Overall, though, the cake and frosting have a pretty deep, intense chocolate flavor.

For the cream cheese filling, I took 4 oz of cream cheese (softened), and beat in 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla until smooth and fluffy.  I then beat 1/2 cup of cream in a separate bowl until it formed stiff peaks, and gently folded the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until combined.  What you end up with is something like the bottom layer of Striped Delight, but made with real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip.  As a matter of fact, it got me thinking about a from-scratch version of Striped Delight, with this on bottom, a homemade chocolate pudding, and if I really wanted to go all out, a crust made from homemade graham crackers.  Hmmmm….

This makes enough for two normal cake rounds.  I instead baked these in a taller, 6-inch diameter pan, then sliced the cakes into to make the layers.  This way I had two mini-cakes, one for each of the girls.  To assemble the cakes, I spread a thin layer of ganache on the first cake layer, followed by a layer of sliced strawberries, which had macerated for about 30 min, then a healthy layer of the cream cheese filling.  Then I topped it with the other cake and spread the ganache frosting generously over the top and sides.  Mmmm-mmm…