A chocolate lover’s dream come true. This rich & fudge brownie cake is stuffed with whole strawberries & cream & surrounded with a black cocoa frosting.
Oh boy! Have I got lots of news for you today. First, let’s get all the important business mumbo jumbo out of the way.
My Bourbon Pumpkin Pie with Black Sesame Crust was featured, alongside 16 other dreamy pies, in Buzzfeed’s article “17 Delicious Pies for People who Love Baking”. You can find the link to this feature HERE. Oh. . .and my Chocolate Cake with Pumpkin Pie Surprise (remember that one?) got an honorable mention. You can see the original posts for both of these beauties HERE and HERE.
Second, Nín hao! Zuì jìn hào ma? Say what?
Monday is my first mandarin lesson. And when I say mandarin I am not referring to the citrus fruit – I thought I needed to clarify given this is a food blog and all.
No. . .Monday will be my first foray into learning to speak mandarin. Of all the languages there is to learn, never in a million, bazillion years would I have guessed that I would be learning this langauge. . .and STAT. You see, last week, the Mr. was asked to set up a business in Shanghai. There is still a lot of things that need to be put into motion (uuuh. . .work permits anyone?). On top of that, I have a lot of concerns about the Mother Hen’s health and whether or not she will be able to make the long trip over. . . .One day at a time. I’ll keep you guys posted on how this continues to play out over the coming weeks.
Next up. . .I have photos that just went up on exhibit in my very first gallery exhibition. I received the news when I was sitting in a teeny tiny airport in Trelew, Argentina. What? You’ve never heard of it? Me neither until I hooked up with a penguin research project in Patagonia. Interested? Maybe we can chat more about this in a future post. In the meantime, the project has just set up a Facebook page. Whipeee! Now I can spy on the penguin I named after the Mr. See HERE if you too are interested in keeping tabs on a couple thousand penguins living in a far off magical place.
So back to my artwork. . .I wasn’t going to originally submit for this exhibition. Frankly, I didn’t feel my photos were good enough to be shown in a gallery. But after much contemplation (and procrastination), I finally decided that the experience of going through a formal submission process and printing photos (if it got that far) would be invaluable.
Well, let me tell you. . .printing for a gallery exhibition is NOTHING like printing out a couple of snaps for grandma at the local CVS. It can be a very time consuming, frustrating and expensive endeavor. And when you have no experience on said topic, the frustration and cost doubles. . .no triples.
Then there is the whole paper selection process. Ay Caramba! Did you know that when you print “for reals” it’s more complicated than just checking the box for glossy or matte paper? There are a head spinning number of fine art papers that you choose from. And each and every one of these papers has the power to lend uniquely different moods to your photos. All fine and good. . .but when you don’t know what you’re doing, printing expensive print after expensive print, with a timeline looming, can be daunting to say the least. To further add to the frustration, I found that some of my photos looked like perfection on certain papers where as other photos looked like crap on that very same paper. Eeeeee!
So led the seemingly impossible treasure hunt to find a paper that complimented all the photos that would ultimately make their way to the gallery.
After much trial and error, something miraculous happened. The heavens opened up, the angels started to sing and the perfect paper shone down into my life.
With a smile bigger than the state of Texas plastered across my face, I carefully examined these photos of dreams. And there it was! A big, ugly scratch running smack dab down the center of one of the photos. Are you kidding me? How much did I pay for these again? Surely you have heard of this thing called quality control?
By now you might be thinking “Chillax. Just reprint the photos, crazy lady.” Good thinking. . . but remember that so called timeline? And then there is this little problem of being able to identify said paper of perfection. Because, you see, the printer failed to label the many different papers I had selected so I had no clue as to which paper I should be reprinting on.
There I was, cursing like a drunken sailor, reading the description for each paper and making my best attempt at guessing which perfectly matched the dream photo.
“Eureeka! I think I have cracked the code!”, I happily exclaimed. And with that, I placed another order.
The photos arrived and I could feel the butterflies in my tummy as I excitedly tore open the package, dreaming about all the” ooohs” and “ahhhhs” my photos would be receiving at the gallery. Wait a minute. . .this is the paper that I hated. Grr. . .apparently my matching skills left something to be desired.
So in the end, time dictated that I abandon my artistic vision and go with whatever I had that looked good for both photos. There were other issues that popped up. . .which I won’t get into here but I am happy to report that my photos are at least in the gallery. This whole experience has ignited an interest in printing out more of my photos and further learning the ins and outs associated with this process. . .and maybe. . .just maybe submitting for another gallery show. After all. . .I have a massive amount of wildlife photos from my years spent living in Africa that are just begging for a show.
To celebrate a month full of accomplishments, as harrowing as the journey might have been, I baked these pint sized Strawberries & Cream Brownie Cakes.
Flour Bakery (see the link to the bakery HERE if you ever find yourself in the Boston area), one of my favorite bakeries in the Boston area, has the most amazing brownies known to mankind. They are so moist and fudgy and sinfully good. As a matter of fact, the first time I had one I thought I had died and gone to heaven. So it was a no brainer that I use this brownie as the base for the cakes. To give the inside a light airiness, I stuffed the cake with full strawberries softened in a sweet bath of lemon, sugar and vanilla and surrounded them with a light and fluffy mascarpone cream. Given my slight addiction to my Black Cocoa Buttercream frosting, I slathered it all over the outside of this cake.
The end result – a rich & chocolatey cake with a creamy, dreamy inside.
Some things to keep in mind:
- This recipe will make 3-4 four inch cakes. Since it’s only the Mr. and myself, I decided to assemble 2 full cakes. For the remaining brownie rounds, I simply spooned the cream filling on the brownies and chopped some of the macerated strawberries and sprinkled them on top.
- If you aren’t in the mood to assemble a cake (hey, we can’t be in the mood all of the time), you could bake the brownies in a 9 x 13 pan, spread the cream on top and finish it off with diced strawberries. In this case, you might want to double the strawberry recipe.
- Given the base is made with brownies, it’s heavier (but insanely rich) than traditional cakes. If you want to lighten it up a little, you might consider forgoing the Black Cocoa Buttercream (as divine as it is. . .it also can be heavy) and frosting the entire cake with the cream. In this case, I would also double the amount made.
- Since this is made with whole berries, it is best consumed the day the cake is assembled. No worries though, the components can be prepared the day before.
Here’s to a fruitful month.
P.S. If you enjoyed your time at The Road to Honey, I would love for you to join me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Bloglovin. Or you could receive updates from my blog directly to your inbox by entering your e-mail address in the box in the top right corner. See you soon.
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 5.5 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup + 2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
- 5 large eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups strawberries, (about 13 medium sized strawberries)
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
- 3 tbsp black cocoa
- 1-3 tbsp heavy whipping cream (as needed)
Place the oven rack in the center of the oven & preheat to 325° F.
Butter & flour 4 inch cake pans. I also recommend adding a buttered & floured parchment paper round on the bottom of the pan to make cake removal as easy as possible.
Sift the flour, baking soda, & salt together in a medium size bowl. Set aside.
Combine the chocolates in a medium sized bowl & melt them until they are completely smooth (see notes).
As chocolate is melting, melt the butter in a separate pan.
Whisk the melted butter into the chocolates until they are well combined. Set aside & allow the chocolate to cool slightly.
Beat the eggs on low with a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Slowly add the sugar in & continue to beat until the mixture becomes frothy & thickens.
Gently fold the egg mixture into the chocolate.
Gently fold the flour mixture into the chocolate and egg mixture until combined. Take care not to overmix.
The mix will be thick so you may need to spoon in into the prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to smooth the tops.
Bake 25 - 30 minutes. Note: I baked mine until a toothpick inserted into the center came out clean so they had a more cake-like texture. Next time I will remove them from the oven a bit earlier as I prefer my brownies to be fudgey. Adjust time based on your preference.
Repeat (if you are using 4 inch pans and only have a few of these on hand) until all the batter is used.
Allow the brownie layers to cool completely before assembling into the cake.
Rinse & cut the leafs off the strawberries.
In a medium, non-reactive bowl combine the strawberries with the sugar, lemon juice & vanilla extract.
Toss to thoroughly coat.
Allow the berries to sit & soften up at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Combine heavy whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, & sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment & beat until thickened (about 2 minutes).
Add vanilla & mix until combined.
Refrigerate covered until ready to use. Note: Cream filling can be prepared up to 2 days prior to use.
Place the butter into the bowl of your stand mixer.
Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium until the butter is light & fluffy.
Sift together the confectioners sugar & black cocoa.
With mixer on low, slowly add in confectioners sugar black cocoa mixture. Mix until just combined.
If needed, mix in whipping cream, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved.
Use a knife to level the tops of the brownies.
Place a couple of spoonfuls of the cream on top of the brownie.
Place whole macerated strawberries on top & fill in any gaps between the strawberries with cream. Note: I placed one of my cakes in the refrigerator until the cream thickened up a bit, then I added more cream to fill in any remaining gaps. I did not do this with my first cake (the sliced cake in the photos). . .so use your judgement on which is best under your circumstances.
Place the second cake layer on top & frost the entire cake. If you are frosting with the Black Cocoa frosting, I recommend that you dab thick layers of frosting onto the cream & then carefully spread the frosting out. This will help minimize the amount of cream that gets mixed into the frosting.
I topped my cakes with strawberries & a handful of chopped pistachios.
Brownie Recipe from Flour Bakery