I seriously love making my own cake for my birthday, and it’s only because I just really love making cake. I swear it’s not a control thing- it’s not! I swear! But it IS a love of cake thing. Recently, I celebrated my 30th birthday, and it got me to thinking of all of my years on this earth so far.
I have these memories of when I was little – of the happy sort, that are almost all infused with warm sun rays coming in through a window and soft lighting (even though one of theses particular memories is from indoors during the evening) – of being at my favourite restaurant (yes, I had one of those even when I was a little girl) that just happened to be owned by family friends. I loved it there. It was called the Grotto and I still get sad when I realize that it’s gone.
My entire family used to eat at The Grotto on every Christmas Eve, and then head to our friends for a jazz jam – it was the best. The grotto was also the first place that I ever tried sushi, and they had some of the best curry, that I can actually almost taste now just thinking back on it…well, anyways – back to this particular memory.
They knew me pretty well there.
I often ordered the stir-fry, maybe had a delicious Shirley Temple to drink, (they always came with little plastic mermaids and monkeys skewered through the cherries – which i saved) and my brother often had a dessert called Mud Pie – which seemed like some kind of crazy grown up dessert to me when I was little because a) it was huge and b) it had coffee in it. COFFEE.
In my mind and memory – those strawberries were bigger than my whole hand – (maybe at that time they WERE) and the chocolate was just this insanely decadent treat. (…though I didn’t think that at the time, because I didn’t know the word “decadent’ yet) It was my absolute favourite.
The other memory I have, also including strawberries, is of my Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Ficket (who I absolutely adored) and the “Strawberry Tea” that she used to hold at our elementary school. Kids and parents would attend the Strawberry Tea, and would be served tea and Strawberry Shortcake (who was one of my favourite dolls, as well hehe) – and it was so delicious. I looked forward to it every year, even as I got older.
At any rate, for my 30th birthday this year, I thought back on some of these old memories and of foods come and gone ( I think about food a lot ) – and these two stuck out – so, what I made was some sort of crazy super dessert.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Shortcake.
Essentially I made vanilla bean cake (4 layers for 2 cakes), placed sliced strawberries soaked in sugar and chocolate ganache in the middle, and then I covered the whole thing in a vanilla frosting – to be topped with giant chocolate covered strawberries.
First, I made the vegan vanilla bean cake – click here for the recipe – which is from the amazing Isa Moskowitz at the Post Punk Kitchen (seriously, check her out – she’s my favourite) and let that cool and do its thing for a bit.
While all of that was happening, I made the ganache, also from Isa – for which there is a link here. (the ganache recipe is within!)
As those were cooling, I chopped up the strawberries to be soaked in sugar – honestly I didn’t measure here at all.. for two cakes it was roughly 2 pints of strawberries minus the 10 that I covered in chocolate – and the sugar I had left.. haha.
Next up were the chocolate covered strawberries. SUPER easy. All I did was microwave some chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet ghirardhelli for everything in this recipe) at about 30 second intervals, stirring each time I checked on it until it was all melty and delicious – then dipped them in using a lot of swirling motion and getting my hands all chocolately, and then let them set on a silpat. (which is new to me, and which I now have and which I love – but parchment paper also works!)
Next – the frosting, also vegan, also from the internet! Click here for the recipe. This made a super fluffly light frosting – perfect for this cake! I changed it up slightly and used rice milk instead of soy milk because I prefer the taste. I think almond milk would also be good.
And so, last but not least, was the assembly. I made two two layer cakes (not tutu, I was never good at ballet) , filled the center first with ganache and then lay half the strawberry slices over the ganach, put on the top, and then let that cool a couple hours.
After that was all good and firm, I did a crumb coat of frosting, let that chill a bit, and then did the final coat – and arranged the strawberries on top!
I hope that if you try this you enjoy it and then serve it to all of your friends ASAP – I loved it and had the best birthday filled with lovely people – and it was also like both of those childhood memories wrapped in to one sort of super-meta-memory!
Until next time, take care,