A “chocolate-covered Easter” is pretty typical for a day of celebration after lent. Chocolate bunnies, chocolate cream-filled eggs, chocolate-covered cherries and a host of other treats in our Easter baskets and gracing our dining tables truly make the day even more special.

Chocolate-covered strawberries are a favorite in our house, and to adorn the top of a beautiful three-layer chocolate cake adds height and dimension, making the cake look spectacular.

Layers of chocolatey cake filled with strawberry buttercream create a flavor pairing that is not only decadent, but makes the cake deserve center stage for a day this special.

Each element of the cake is made for an extraordinary occasion. The classic chocolate cake is super flavorful with the addition of coffee to intensify the chocolate, although the taste of coffee goes undetected. The buttercream is rich but takes on a lighter profile with the pureed fresh strawberries that get blended in. And to top it with chocolate-covered strawberries really takes it over the top.

I also made cute little “carrot-like” candy-coated strawberries to place in my new bunny dish I recently purchased.

While out shopping for it, I was so delighted to have an encounter with some folks who mean so much to me. Three generations of wonderful ladies were in the same store I was at in Lubbock. Mrs. Snodgrass from Crosbyton, (where I grew up) is a beloved, retired school teacher. She is the epitome grace and style. I’ve always looked up to her. I attended the same church she goes to when I was a child, and grew into a teenager and young adult there.

Mrs. Snodgrass was shopping with one of her lovely daughters and one of her beautiful granddaughters that day. We stood in the aisle and talked about recipes, family and treasured dishes. We spoke about all the very special events that have gone on in the church hall over the years. I know the people there, and that church, helped shape me to be the person I am today. I’m forever grateful.

It was such a treat to see these cherished friends and mentors. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate them and the other readers of the Avalanche Journal who live in the little towns surrounding Lubbock. They are such an important part of the community, and I thank all of you for reading Food Made Fresh!

Happy Easter!

 

CHOCOLATE LAYER CAKE

WITH STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened

2 eggs, room temperature

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot coffee

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, on medium speed.

Add eggs, milk and vanilla. Continue beating on medium speed until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients with the mixer on low. Increase speed to medium just until ingredients are fully blended.

Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans. Bake for 23 to 28 minutes in the preheated oven until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for a minimum of 10 minutes. Top with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting and chocolate-covered strawberries.

 

STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

Buttercream Frosting

3/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened

4 cups powdered sugar

 

Puree the berries in a blender, producing about 1/2 cup.

Place butter in a medium mixing bowl and cream until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the pureed strawberries and blend for a couple of minutes until incorporated.

To frost the cake layers, place a spoonful of frosting onto the cake stand or plate to secure the first layer to. Place a cake layer on and spread 1/3 of the frosting on top. Repeat with the next 2 layers. Top the cake with chocolate-covered strawberries. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

 

CHOCOLATE-COVERED STRAWBERRIES

1 dozen fresh strawberries

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

To make a simple, chocolate-covered strawberries, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in small microwavable dish in the microwave on high in 20 second intervals, stirring after each interval. It should take around 60 seconds total to melt 1 cup of chocolate chips this way, which will coat 10 to 12 berries.

TIP: If you plan to make “carrot-like” candy-coated strawberries, I used vanilla almond bark that I had on hand and added food coloring; however, the food coloring tends to harden the bark and make it less easy to dip the berries. I had to spread the coating on. Using an orange melting candy from the craft store will result in a smoother, dipped strawberry “carrot.”

 

 

ANGELINA LARUE is a food writer, recipe developer and author of “The Whole Enchilada Fresh and Nutritious Southwestern Cuisine.”