This Thursday my friend turned 28! To help her celebrate, I baked this Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Filling since it incorporates two things she loves. One problem that surfaced during the hunt for ingredients was where to find dutch processed or alkalized cocoa, which the original recipe required. After searching five stores for the elusive ingredient, I was left with Ghirardelli natural unsweetened cocoa. I hoped this wouldn't break the recipe and proceeded. The flavor was still very chocolaty despite the change of ingredient; I had hoped for a slightly darker chocolate color, but it still looked like chocolate.
The batter and frosting were easily whipped together in less than an hour (including baking). I used vanilla extract for the flavoring liquid this time, to make sure I wasn't adding too many additional flavors since the filling wasn't in the original recipe. I plan to try amaretto the next time around.
My oven required the maximum cooking time and even a couple additional minutes to get a clean toothpick to come out of the tested cake. The cupcakes cooked in about 15 minutes. While the cake cooled completely, I made the strawberry filling that went between each of the three layers.
During assembly, a ring of frosting was piped around the edge of each layer to keep the filling from overflowing when the next layer was added. I melted white chocolate with a little vegetable oil and used a fork to splatter it onto the cake (for a little decoration). The creation was topped off by a ghostly white cake with hazelnut filling and ringed by cupcakes for those who may not enjoy the strawberry filling.
One suggestion that I received is to slip pieces of waxed paper between the edge of the cake and the tray while icing. This would have made for easier clean-up, and I hope to remember this tip next time. Another change I'd like to try is to chop the strawberries less finely, and keep them more solid than liquid.
Despite some things I'll do differently with another try, everyone seemed to enjoy the cake. Though I did taste it at points throughout its assembly, I had to rely on the reactions of everyone at the party to determine if it was tasty or not (since I'm not really a fan of chocolate). A friend stopped by to help during the assembly and suggested a slight addition of cocoa to the frosting, so I listened. Overall, I think it was a success (one person even dropped the date of their birthday in the coming month, hoping for a cake of their own), and I was happy to please everyone.