The end of June marked my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. Over 30 years together! I hope I can one day find someone to spend decades with too. My parents decided not to throw a huge party, so we celebrated in a small group, just my parents, me and my grandma (my sister was away on a school trip that weekend). And what better way to celebrate at home than to have some delicious food, right? My mum made a roast dinner while I decided to go a little extra making a cake. Spoiler alert: it was delicious!
The temperatures at the end of June this year were way over 30°C, so I knew I wanted to make a refrigerated cake and incorporate some fruits in it. I decided to go for strawberries which were in season (gotta eat the fruits when they’re delicious and cheap). Making this cake is a lengthy process, so it’s not one that would work as a last-minute dessert. I started preparing the first layer in the early afternoon of day one, finished in the evening, let the cake refrigerate for the whole night and then decorated it the next morning. The decorations were gelatine-based (just like the other layers, so they also needed at least an hour in the fridge).
For a Ø24cm tray, you’ll need:
Base – chocolate cake:
- 50g dark chocolate, melted & cooled
- 2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
- 50g butter
- 50g sugar
- 50g plain flour
- a sprinkle of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Middle layer – white chocolate mousse:
- 300g white chocolate
- 180ml milk
- 220ml double cream
- 3 teaspoons of gelatine
- a handful of strawberries and blueberries (optional)
Top layer – strawberry mousse
- 700g strawberries
- 1 bag of jello (dry, powder for 500ml of water)
- 1 teaspoon of gelatine
- fruits and mint leaves to decorate the cake
- double cream, gelatine, icing sugar and a little bit of lemon juice – for piped decorations on top
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Using a mixer, whisk butter and sugar together. Add melted chocolate, mix. Add egg yolks, mix.
Sift the flour with baking powder and salt. Add them to the pastry, stir gently with a spatula until roughly mixed in (don’t overdo it).
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks and carefully stir them into the pastry.
Pour the pastry into the tray. Bake for ~13 minutes.
Set aside to cool completely.
After that step, I removed the cake from the original tray, placed it on a big platter and wrapped it with a cake ring. You can leave the cake in the original tray too if you don’t own a cake ring, but you probably won’t be able to transfer it onto a plate without the base of the tray when the cake’s all done.
White chocolate mousse:
Mix gelatine with a bit of cold water (just enough to cover the powder). Set aside for 10 minutes, gelatine should absorb all the water.
Heat the gelatine up – on very, very low fire or in the microwave (with a series of short – 5-7 second – blasts). Don’t let the gelatine boil – it becomes useless if it does and you’ll have to start over.
Heat the milk up on the hob until it starts to boil. Turn off the fire, add chopped up white chocolate. Leave for 2 minutes, then stir (break the clumps of chocolate if there are any left). Add warm gelatine, stir well.
Set aside until it starts to thicken – first in room temperature, then in the fridge (checking it and stirring every 5 minutes).
This step took ages in my case – air temperature of around 35°C kept the mixture fully liquid, so it only started to thicken after a good while in the fridge. While the chocolatey mixture is in the fridge, don’t leave it unattended for more than 5 minutes. If it firms up, you won’t be able to move it onto your cake. The goal is to have the mixture thick, but not solid. Take it out of the fridge when ready.
Whip the cream until stiff. Gently stir it into the white chocolate mixture.
When the mixture was ready to be poured onto the chocolate base of the cake, I placed a few chopped up strawberries and a handful of blueberries on the cake and then poured the white chocolate mousse on them. Though I have to admit, the amount of fruits I placed got almost entirely lost in the cake – I’d recommend adding a bit more (covering the whole surface of the cake) or just skipping the fruits here altogether.
Next, place the cake in the fridge for ~3 hours (check if the white chocolate layer has firmed up).
Once the white chocolate & cream layer has set, proceed to make the last layer.
Using a blender, turn the strawberries into a puree. Pour them into a pot and cook on the hob on low heat until they start to boil. Take them off the hob, wait a few seconds until the bubbles disappear and add jelly powder and gelatine (dissolved in water and warmed, like in the previous step). Stir and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Pour the strawberry mixture onto the cake and refrigerate for a few hours (ideally, a whole night).
I decorated the cake with chocolate hearts, strawberries, blueberries, fresh peppermint leaves and whipped cream with a bit of icing sugar, lemon juice and gelatine (I didn’t want to make the cake too sweet, hence the lemon juice). I don’t have exact measurements, but using one teaspoon of gelatine per cup of cream should generally work fine (dissolve the gelatine first, like before).
You can serve the cake when it’s still cold, straight out of the fridge (the texture of the middle and top layers will be more like jello, solid).
Or, you can take the cake out of the fridge around 30-60 minutes in advance – the top two layers will soften and they’ll have more of a mousse consistency. It’s better this way if I say so myself, but you can try both options – if you do, let me know what you think!