I didn't bake last weekend thanks to a computer melt-down at the end of the week, just before I left on a work trip to Denver. But I'm back, and decided I could bake both the Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cake for this week and last week's easy-list Chocolate Butter Cupcakes. Seeing as how it was a double-cake weekend, I did half-recipes of both.
Saturday afternoon I started on the Strawberry Cake. It's a white cake made with melted white chocolate in the batter, filled with strawberry mousseline and topped with a chocolate frosting. For the half-recipe, I used my 6" cake pans, and still made the 2 cupcakes from "extra" batter. As a 6" cake, it looks very tall.
The battle of this cake was the mousseline and the chocolate frosting. Both were problematic because of the heat and humidity in my kitchen--the outside temperature was in the mid-90's (F) with the usual Georgia humidity, and inside was around 80, or more with the oven going. Trying to maintain a temperature range of 65-70 on both the softened butter and the meringue/mousseline proved….challenging. Bowls swapped in and out of the fridge, two thermometers in use, and because of the half-recipes, I was doing this with a hand-held mixer and other unaccustomed tools. Rose does offer the alternative of the Golden Neoclassic Buttercream for "hot or humid weather", but I'd made that one both for the pumpkin cake and the pistachio cake, so I really wanted to try the mousseline. Eventually, with large numbers of dirty bowls, beaters, thermometers, strainers (for the strawberry jam) and other utensils, I did produce strawberry mousseline.
I assembled my 4 layers with the mousseline and extra jam spread between them, and collected the dark chocolate frosting my niece had prepared--melted 99% and 67% chocolate, butter, light corn syrup, and vanilla. Niece really didn't like the mixture, finding it much too sweet and with a plastic-y texture lent by the corn syrup. (She'd also thought the cake and the mousseline too sweet, and in the end declined to try the composed cake.) My brother, on the other hand, pointed out that the frosting is reminiscent of the chocolate caramels from my Great-Aunt Fan's recipe, one I make every Christmas.
I wasn't bothered by the taste, but oh, it was not easy to work with! I poured the first amount over the top of the cake and spread it out, but as it turned out used too little and my top frosting was too thin. (Not that I could tell this until I cut the cake.) I made an attempt at a crumb coat, but the frosting--too thick to pour well over the top--was too thin to stick to the sides, and slowly slumped toward the plate under the influence of gravity. I'd also not been careful enough placing my layers and had bulgy sides that didn't help my efforts to spread the frosting. After getting some sort of coating over the cake, I left it for 40 minutes so the frosting could set enough to swirl….but it didn't. See above, "heat and humidity", I guess. It being rather late by then, I slapped the rest of the frosting on the sides and quickly stuck the cake in the fridge to set up. I removed it in the morning and let it come to room temperature, at which point the frosting was back to a semi-set, sticky consistency that pulled off the cake at every opportunity. If I'd thought was a great-tasting frosting, I'd try it again in February. As it is, I think I'll pass.
That's kind of the story on the whole cake. It's pretty (would be prettier if I'd manage to line up my layers and do better with the frosting), but it is very sweet, and no so much to the tastes of much of my family. Sister-in-law thought it very sweet but with a nice flavor, younger niece declined to try it as I mentioned, and I haven't gotten reports from the other 2 kids. My brother cast the most positive vote--he thought it was a nicely balanced set of flavors, perhaps a little unbalanced when getting bites with the chocolate frosting. I liked it, but not enough to tackle the complicated process again, even in winter.
The chocolate butter cupcakes were indeed easy, certainly in contrast to the strawberry cake. The half recipe made 8 nice-sized cupcakes. I went with the chocolate-egg white buttercream both because I like chocolate-on-chocolate, and to use up more of the egg white I had stored in my freezer. (While I was in Denver my mini-freezer quit working for a while, and though most things stayed frozen, I think I'll try to use up what was in there as quickly as possible.) The buttercream gave me some trouble--the meringue was slow to come to stiff peaks, and I think I over beat it--and it didn't have the loft I expected. However, it made a fine frosting with the addition of the butter and melted chocolate even though it stayed rather soft. Again, see above, heat & humidity. I decided to pipe it onto the cupcakes because it was too soft to swirl (and I didn't want to wait while I refrigerated it), and sensitized to the dangers of a round tip and chocolate frosting by Cakewrecks, I went with a basic star tip to cover the cupcake tops.
I liked the cupcake and frosting. Not a knock-me-over great cake, but nice. Haven't gotten reports from anyone else except my brother, who called them "not particularly distinctive".