I believe it was Oscar Wilde who opined about life imitating art. I agree, and if you need an example, look no further than this cake. It was inspired by a painting called “Love Spells” from one of my favorite artists. If you’ve never browsed the art of Janet Hill, then prepare to be delighted (click). She has a wonderful way of setting a mysterious scene, conveying nostalgia, and doing so with an effervescent spirit. There are times when I glimpse something personal and familiar in her paintings, and I think that’s probably true for many admirers of her work.
Under the painting’s spell, I fell in love with the heart-topped dome cake at first sight. I could only guess what the inside of the cake might be like, but the strawberries depicted at the bottom edge gave me a clue.
The chocolate chip cake layers may seem familiar, especially those who have tried my Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milk Cake. I’ve used the formula again for this cake. The recipe makes a little more than you’ll need, so consider making a couple of cupcakes with the extra batter, or one tiny 5-inch cake (pictured upper right).
The baked cakes are sturdy with a dense crumb which is ideal for building a tall cake such as this one. A generous brushing of vanilla simple syrup will impart moisture to the layers – this is an important step that gives the cake its luscious texture, so don’t skip it!
Part of the filling is prepared strawberry glaze, which you can often find in the fresh produce section at the grocery store next to the strawberries (such as this brand). If you have a homemade strawberry glaze recipe, and prefer it to prepackaged – by all means use it! However, this recipe already has a few steps, and I felt the prepared glaze was a nice shortcut. Fresh sliced strawberries are the other filling component, which is so lovely and fresh layered throughout.
The heart topper is super easy to make using a 3.5-inch heart cutter (I have this set). Fondant can be used, but lately I’ve been loving the flavor of Satin Ice ChocoPan modeling chocolate (right here). It comes in lots of colors and the texture is easy to work with. And the flavor is best with the chippy interior of this cake! Knead a chunk of it and roll it to about 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly greased surface.
While the chocolate is still fresh, press white Sixlets pearls about 3/8″ from the outer edge. Insert a toothpick in the pointed tip of the heart and allow the piece to dry for about 1 hour, or until the heart is firm enough to stand upright.
The 1.5-inch heart cutter, from the same set used for the cake topper, makes the perfect sized strawberries for the bottom edge of the cake. Roll a piece of red modeling chocolate a little thicker than 1/4″. Cut about 14 hearts out and lay them aside.
For the strawberry stems, roll a piece of green modeling chocolate the same thickness, and use a small calyx cutter to stamp 15 pieces from the chocolate. Use the top of the 1.5-inch heart cutter to trim away two of the calyx leaves, as the top picture illustrates. Use a small art brush and water to coat top edge of the hearts, and then fit the trimmed calyx pieces to the hearts like puzzle pieces. Allow the pieces to stand until they are well adhered to each other, about 20 minutes. Use the pointed end of a skewer to make small indentations mimicking strawberry seeds.
I *almost* used fresh strawberry halves on the outside of the cake (which would probably look more like the inspiration picture) but the weeping nature of the acidic berries against sugary frosting convinced me otherwise. I’m happy to say this cake kept well in the refrigerator for a few days as I doled out slices to friends and family.
I absolutely adore old school boiled milk frosting. In my mind, nothing else would do for this particular cake. It’s so creamy and not as sweet as traditional buttercream. The dome is lightly brushed with powdered sugar, which gives it a matte finish (which is my interpretation of the painting).
Good gracious, is this cake ever delicious! The little bites of chocolate along with the fresh strawberry slices really creates that Chocolate-Covered Strawberry flavor.
The final flourish, Cupid’s arrow, is simply a long skewer, 12-inches, that I cut in half at the center. On one section I attached a paper triangle cut from a piece of copy paper; the other section has a scrap of paper treat bag that I fringed with scissors attached with double sided tape.
I had so much fun making this cake! There are several steps but they’re easy enough for just about anyone to manage.
Instructions for the decorations are not included with the recipe; refer to the blog post for guidance and resources.
Strawberry-Chocolate Chip Love Spell Cake
Yields 20 servings
You may have a little cake batter left over, so consider making a mini 5-inch cake, or a few cupcakes with the leftovers.
6 cups cake flour, sifted
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I like peanut oil)
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
8 egg whites, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
12 ounces (1 bag) mini chocolate chips
Vanilla Simple Syrup
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
Boiled milk frosting
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
2 cups/1 lb unsalted butter, softened
2 cups caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 pint strawberries, sliced
10 oz. strawberry glaze
Decors and powder coating (see blog post for decor instructions)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 (3.25 inch) modeling chocolate heart décor
14 (1.75 inch) modeling chocolate strawberry decors
12-inch skewer arrow
Make the cake layers: Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Coat two 8-inch baking pans and two 6-inch baking pans with flour-based baking spray (recommend Baker’s Joy).
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, oil and granulated sugar; mix until light and fluffy. Add egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Beat in the flour and buttermilk alternately with the mixer on low speed; begin and end with the flour. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Mixture will be thick. Gently fold in the mini chocolate chips.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the 6-inch cakes for 20-25 minutes, or until the center is firm and well-set. Bake the 8-inch cakes for 35-40 minutes, or until firm and well-set. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto wire cooling racks to cool completely. Level the tops of the cooled cakes with a large serrated knife or a cake leveler. Cut each of the 6-inch cakes in half (torte) horizontally.
Make the vanilla syrup: In a saucepan combine the water and sugar. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is steaming but not boiling and the sugar is melted. Remove from the heat and let cool. Add the vanilla. Liberally brush the syrup over the cake layers on all sides. Re-apply until you have used all of the syrup. Add more syrup to the larger cakes so they’ll be soaked through, and take care to not oversaturate the smaller cakes so they don’t fall apart when you assemble them.
Make the frosting: In a medium saucepan, whisk together flour and 1/2 cup of milk until smooth. Set over medium-high heat and let cook for 3 minutes, or until slightly hot. Whisk in remaining milk and salt. Whisk constantly until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of unset pudding (this can take up to 10 minutes). Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a shallow dish. Place in the refrigerator until cool. When cool, mixture will be thick like custard.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add vanilla and mix well. Beat in cooled flour mixture one tablespoon at a time on medium-high speed. When all the flour mixture is added beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Rub a little frosting between your fingers, if sugar granules remain, beat for 4 more minutes, or until granules cannot be detected with fingers. Transfer the frosting to a large piping bag with a 1/2 hold snipped in the end.
Assemble the cake: Place a syrup-soaked 8-inch cake layer on a cake board or cake stand. Pipe a line of frosting around the top edge of the cake and pipe a little in the center, also. This will serve as a dam to hold in the filling, and the frosting in the center will help stabilize the finished cake. Spoon the filling in between the frosting and cover with some of the sliced fresh strawberries. Stack the second 8-inch cake layer on top. Cover the top of the 8-inch cake with a thin layer of frosting.
Add a torted 6-inch syrup-soaked layer on the top center of the 8-inch layer. Pipe a line of frosting around the top edge of the cake. Cover with strawberry glaze and top with some of the fresh strawberry slices. Repeat this process with the remaining 6-inch cake layers. Refrigerate the cake until the frosting is firm, about 20 minutes. Slightly trim away the top edges of the cake using a serrated knife, to give the cake a slight dome-shape (the finished trimmed cake doesn’t have to be a perfect dome, as most of the layers were kept with square edges; this can be a roughed-out shape).
Cover the outside of the cake using the remaining frosting and smooth into a dome shape. Add extra frosting to the top center of the cake to achieve a rounded top. Smooth using an offset spatula. Refrigerate until the frosting is firm to touch, about 25 minutes.
When the cake is well-chilled, pat the powdered sugar onto the sides of the cake using your hand; begin from the bottom and travel upward in sections. Brush away excess sugar from the bottom edge of the cake using a pastry brush.
To attach the strawberry decors around the bottom edge of the cake, dampen a pastry brush with water and brush it around the bottom edge of the cake. Press strawberry decors to the moistened cake edge; they should hold in place. If they don’t stick naturally, brush a little more water onto the edge of the cake and try again.
Insert by the pointed toothpick end of the large heart décor in the top of the cake, slightly off center. Cut the arrow skewer in half, and insert each end to the left and right of the cake’s sides, as if it has been pierced by Cupid’s arrow.
Refrigerate cake until an hour before serving. Serve cake slightly chilled. Store the cake covered in the refrigerator.
Strawberry Chocolate Chip Love Spell Cake
Published: Strawberry Chocolate Chip Love Spell Cake Recipe