pastry cream strawberries filled chocolate layer cake

i thought of sharing this cake with you after all the fuss of valentine’s day.

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valentine’s day is a great holiday, but like my husband says, we celebrate LOVE every day, so why not celebrate with chocolate cake every day?!? even though there’re strawberries, pastry cream and chocolate involved, you can make this cake for any occasion, even birthdays.

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this pastry cream is good, especially against the rich, moist chocolate cake.

it’s actually one of a few times of making pastry cream, and i need to make it again and tweak it a little bit. but it’s pretty good with the chocolate ganache filling and fresh strawberries.

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pastry cream strawberries filled chocolate layer cake

chocolate ganache ingredients
2.5 oz semisweet chocolate
1 oz cup heavy cream

pastry cream (make a day or up to a week in advance)
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsps vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
1 and 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp butter

chocolate cake
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup strong brewed decaf coffee, hot

white chocolate ganache frosting
3.5 oz white chocolate
1 oz heavy cream
2 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsps vanilla
1 and 1/2 tbsps milk
4 strawberries, sliced

make the ganache:

  1. chop chocolate as fine as you can and place in a heat-proof bowl.
  2. bring heavy cream to a simmer in a sauce pan over medium heat and it’s ready when it almost starts bubbling. do not boil.
  3. pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds to one minute. whisk the two together until well combined, smooth and shiny. let it cool and set aside.

make the pastry cream:

  1. combine milk, heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden or heat-proof rubber spatula. Turn off and set aside.
  2. in a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar until shiny. add the cornstarch and mix well, carefully not leaving any lumps.
  3. temper the eggs by adding about 1/4 cup of the hot milk/heavy cream mixture.
  4. add the rest of the eggs to the hot milk and cook over medium stirring constantly until thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes. add butter and vanilla extract and mix well. take off heat and set aside for a few minutes.
  5. pour pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer to avoid curdled egg in the final product. cover with plastic wrap pressing against the pastry cream so a film/skin doesn’t form. refrigerate for at least overnight. make a day or up to a week in advance.
  6. this pastry cream yields way more than needed for this cake. half the recipe if you like.

make the chocolate cake:

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. butter three 6-inch pans throughout. line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour bottoms and sides.
  2. in a medium bowl sift flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar together.
  3. in the bowl of a stand mixer beat egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla for 1 minute on medium-low speed until combined.
  4. add hot coffee in a steady form to eggs, buttermilk and oil mixture at slow speed until well combined, about 30 seconds.
  5. set speed to the slowest setting and add flour mixture to liquids, 1/2 cup a at time until combined. do not over mix.
  6. divide batter evenly among prepared pans. bake for 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. start checking at the 25 minute mark with a toothpick.
  7. cool cakes in the pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes {or until the pans are cool to the touch} and with a plastic knife separate cake from the edge of the pan and then take cake out of pans by flipping pan onto the cooling rack. let cool completely on the cooling rack before frosting, about 1 hour or more.

make the white chocolate ganache frosting:

  1. warm heavy cream in the microwave for 15 seconds and pour over chopped white chocolate. let it stand for 30 seconds and whisk until combined. set aside to cool.
  2. cream butter for 3 minutes over medium speed {setting #5 on kitchenaid} with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer. once done creaming mix for 30 more seconds at high speed.
  3. stop mixer. add sugar and beat at the lowest speed setting possible for 1 to 2 minutes until combined. while mixing add vanilla and salt.
  4. increase speed to setting #6 or medium high and beat for 3 more minutes until fluffy and creamy.
  5. add cooled ganache and mix well for 30 seconds on medium speed.

to assemble the cake:

  1. place a dollop of frosting in the middle of a plate, cake stand or cake board wrapped in tin foil paper and set first layer bottom side up. the addition of frosting is to prevent the cake slides while working on it.
  2. with a pastry bag fitted with a standard round tip and filled with the buttercream, pipe a dam around the edge of the cake to avoid the pastry cream comes out on the sides.
  3. add half of ganache and spread with an offset spatula, and add 1/4 cup of pastry cream spreading with an offset spatula as well. add half of sliced strawberries.
  4. place the other cake layer bottom side up and pipe a dam, add rest of ganache and another 1/4 cup of pastry cream, and strawberries. continue to assemble the cake until you get to the top layer, which you’ll want bottom side facing up.
  5. crumb coat your cake with a thin layer of the frosting. this layer doesn’t have to be perfect. place cake in the fridge for about 20 to 30 minutes to help it set.
  6. coat cake with the rest of the frosting until smooth.
  7. serve immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 day. make sure to serve at room temperature.
  8. make chocolate heart by melting any type of baking chocolate, pour into a disposable piping bag or “baggie”, cut tip and pipe melted chocolate into a heart shape on a piece of parchment paper. place toothpick in the middle part and cover with a little more chocolate. let it harden in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.


  1. double the recipe of each item (except the pastry cream) for a three layer 8-inch cake.
  2. you can make the cake the night before but make sure to wrap tightly in plastic paper after they’ve cooled down and store at room temperature or freeze up to 3 days.
  3. you can make the ganache the day before or even a week in advance by storing it in the refrigerator in an airtight container after it’s no longer hot. let the ganache come to room temperature before using or until spreadable consistency. you can microwave for 10 seconds to make it smooth.
  4. make the white chocolate ganache buttercream a day or even a week in advance by storing it in the refrigerator in an airtight container and letting it come to room temperature for at least 5 hours. whisk frosting by hand or mixer at low speed until smooth.

pastry cream adapted from country cleaver.

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