Layers of Chocolate, Strawberries and Cream

When I pulled out the pocket folder filled with recipes I’ve gathered from cooking classes I’ve attended over the years, I was surprised to see that some of the recipes dated back to 1984. That was the year I started taking classes from Andrea Halgrimson in her cozy little kitchen in Fargo. I had two young sons at the time. Gathering with a small group of food-loving people in Andrea’s kitchen was always a special night out for me.

I flipped through my stash of recipes to find Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake. On a May evening in 1984, Halgrimson mixed up a biscuit-like chocolate dough that she rolled out and pressed into large round cake pans. The two chocolate shortcake layers were packed with a filling of whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

That was the night I got over my fear of unflavored gelatin. Halgrimson showed how easy it is to dissolve a little gelatin in water in a glass measuring cup. She placed the measuring cup in a small amount of water in a saucepan over low heat. As the water in the saucepan warmed up, the granulated gelatin dissolved in the water in the cup. Easy.

The warm gelatin and water mixture got whipped into thick cream that created the filling for the chocolate shortcake. The gelatin stabilizes the whipped cream, making it stay fluffy and beautiful as the shortcake sits in the refrigerator. The stabilized whipped cream will also have a much longer life at room temperature.

This time I used stabilized whipped cream to make my own Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake.

I baked the light and moist chocolate cake that I use for creating Strawberries and Cream Chocolate Roll. When it was cool, I pulled out the round cutters that I found at an antique shop in Pequot Lakes last month. One can never have too many round and square cutters:)

The tin has seen better days, but the cutters are in perfect condition. I love them.

I stacked the thin chocolate cake rounds with lots of sweetened stabilized whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Magnificent individual desserts!

This dessert is heavenly and needs nothing but a dainty edible flower on top. If you’re looking for over-the-top decadence, drizzle each dessert with your favorite hot fudge sauce.

Just another way to enjoy the fresh-picked berries of the season.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar plus extra for sprinkling
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh strawberries
  • Sugar for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cups (1 pint) whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15- x 10- x 1-inch jellyroll pan. Line the greased pan with waxed paper. Grease and flour the waxed paper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs at high speed of an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add ¾ cup sugar, continuing to beat for 5 minutes until mixture is thick and fluffy.  Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together. Add sifted ingredients to bowl and blend on low speed. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and mix to blend.

Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake for about 11 minutes in preheated 350-degree oven. Cake should spring back when pressed lightly with a finger.

While cake bakes, place chopped strawberries in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with sugar to taste. Refrigerate until needed.

Sprinkle large, clean linen or cotton kitchen towel with granulated sugar in a 15- x 10-inch rectangle.

Remove cake from oven and immediately loosen from sides of pan and turn out onto sugared towel. Carefully peel away the waxed paper. Allow cake to cool.

When cake is cool, prepare the cream filling. Place gelatin and cold water in a glass measuring cup or custard cup. Place cup in a saucepan containing an inch of water. Heat gently until the gelatin melts.

Place whipping cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat until the cream has thickened slightly. Stir 2 tablespoons of the cream into the warm gelatin and quickly add mixture back into the large bowl of cream. Immediately resume beating. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the cream and continue beating until cream is thick.

Use a 2 3/4-inch or 3-inch round cookie cutter to make 12 rounds of cake. Place 4 cake rounds of serving platter, sugared side down. Top with whipped cream filling and prepared strawberries. Place another round of cake on top of each, sugar side up. Top with more cream and strawberries. Place a third round of cake on each serving. Garnish with an edible flower, if desired. Makes 4 dessert servings.

Tips from the cook

  • Try using vanilla sugar for sweetening the strawberries.
  • It’s important that the dissolved gelatin mixture is still warm when added to the whipping cream. It thickens as it cools. Thick gelatin will create little gelatin balls in the whipped cream, resembling tapioca. You don’t want that.

6 thoughts on “Layers of Chocolate, Strawberries and Cream

  1. Hi Sue,
    I made this dessert using a molten chocolate cake mix. I used the miniature bundt cake pans. I added the strawberries to the bottom half then the whipped cream. When I put the top on the cake on, the chocolate covered the whipped cream and strawberries. It was decadence at its finest. Sylvia

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