I have a favorite bakery. It is an amazing place, chock full of mind-blowing desserts that I crave. When getting ready for my Mom's birthday, a 2 hour drive away, I immediately thought of my very favorite of their cakes. Unfortunately, buying the entire cake, rather than by the slice as I usually do, turned out to be a bit out of my budget. In addition, I wasn't sure how it would fare on a ride down the highway on a warm spring weekend. So, I decided to recreate it. I'm going to describe the normal recipe first, with an addendum on my clever transportation strategy.
(First just take a moment and bask in the glory)
1 box dark chocolate cake mix
3 eggs (as called for in cake mix)
1 cube butter (replaces cake mix oil, .5 cup)
milk in same amount as water called for in cake mix
1pt whipping cream (do NOT sub with redi-whip or similar. it will melt and you'll regret it)
.5 tsp vanilla
2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 lb FRESH strawberries stemmed and diced
ganache (chocolate topping and filling):
2 cups heavy cream
16 oz semisweet chocolate (not chips)
Bake cake mix in 2 layers, according to the ingredients. Replace the oil with melted butter and the water with milk- this is a great tip to make the cake taste less mix-like. (If you're motivated, make your own cake, I didn't have time). Cool until COMPLETELY cool. Once cooled, slice each layer in half, resulting in 4 relatively even layers.
While the cake is baking, take care of the filling: 1. Beat the whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar. The whipping cream needs to be really really really stiff. It has to stand up to the rest of the cake!! Chill until needed. Now work on the ganache (which was far easier than I expected). Basically, heat the cream until just barely boiling, then turn off heat. Stir in chocolate pieces and gently whisk until melted and incorporated. Thats it! (can you believe it?) Now chill- the longer you chill, the stiffer it'll be. you want it spreadable but not too runny.
Now for the assembly. Place the first layer on your serving platter of choice (the astute chef will place strips of waxed paper around the bottom edge so the plate does not become covered in frosting). Cover with a thin layer of ganache. Top with 1/3 of the whipping cream, and 1/3 of the strawberry pieces. Repeat for additional layers, saving about half the total ganache for the top and sides. Once layers are assembled, use a plastic scraper to spread ganache over the top and sides.
Place the whole shebang into the fridge for at least 3 hours, and preferentially more (over night is ideal). Then, just slice and serve!
ADDENDUM: Ok, so as a side note, this was a traveling cake. I made the layers at home and transported them in their cake pans. I also chopped the strawberries and made the whipped cream. I transported berries and cream in a small cooler. When I got to my destination, I made ganache, chilled it, and assembled the cake, putting it in the fridge to eat the next day! Easy and impressive, whats more to ask.