Happy Valentine’s Day!
There isn’t another holiday more associated with chocolate than this one. It is also the most romantic holiday, and chocolate is associated with romance. Chocolate is considered an aphrodisiac and has scientifically been proven to affect good mood in people. It seems like a natural fit.
The ubiquitous heart shaped boxes, sold everywhere in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, indicate the degree of connection between chocolate and romance. Who wouldn’t want to be wooed with chocolate?
This chocolate cake is enhanced with the addition of a bit of ruby port and offset with a light and fruity strawberry mousse. The cake is richly chocolatey, yet light with a tender crumb, so it is feels decadent. A person could eat the whole cake before they know it, it’s so light and inviting.
But sharing isn’t a bad idea, and, in fact, lends an even greater sense of romance. A single beautiful chocolate cake and two forks? Sounds exactly like romance to me.
I’ve made these as small 3” cakes, perfect for sharing. But if you should have leftovers for the next day, trust me, no one will be sad.
The strawberry mousse is a gorgeous light pink color that looks beautiful against the dark brown of the cakes. It is also full of strawberry flavor, a real treat in these later winter days.
It takes a little while for the mousse to firm up properly so it is smart to make this part ahead. The entire dessert can be made ahead and assembled when you are ready, but definitely get that mousse going.
Start by cutting strawberries up roughly and placing them in a food processor. Add in lemon juice, a little powdered gelatin and a bit of boiling water. Whir that altogether and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine an egg yolk, sugar and bit of hot water. Place that bowl over a saucepan filled part way with simmering water. Whisk the egg mixture until thickened and hot to the touch.
It could be difficult to know when it is thick enough. There should be a ribbon-like consistency that will tell you you’ve made it to the right stage.
Set the aside to cool to room temperature.
You can get your cake started while you wait. It begins with softened butter and brown and white granulated sugars combined in a mixing bowl. Beat them together until light and fluffy.
Add an egg in and beat until very light in color. Let that beat for a while. You really can’t get enough air in this mixture, so I get my dry and wet ingredients together while that beats together,
For the dry ingredients, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
For the wet ingredients, you will want to combine equal amounts of buttermilk and half and half. I have found this to be a really good combination in the making of really light cakes.
To that, add a little sour cream and then the piece de resistance that really makes this cake, the ruby port.
Stir the wet ingredients together well.
Some people may not want to add alcohol and that’s fine. You can leave it out. But, there is very little, only 2 tablespoons, and it gets cooked out in the baking process. It also does not add an overt alcoholic flavor, simply brings out the loveliness of the chocolate.
Now you will want to add it all together. Add some vanilla to the egg mixture and combine that well first. Then begin adding wet and dry ingredients, alternating and beginning with the wet ingredients. For my tried and true method to yield a light and airy cake see here.
I am using these tart rings I just love. I am not one for gadgets, especially ones that are only used for one thing and then sit on your shelf for months at time. But, these rings have proven so useful for so many things beyond baking even, like the Pastrami Eggs Benedict from last week. However, you can still make this without them, using small ramekins or even as a large cupcake pan.
With the rings, I just placed them on a silpat lined baking sheet. then I filled each ring with the batter. This recipe makes 6 cakes, but it could make more or less, depending on the exact size of your baking container.
That’s a bit of leftover if you are sharing with your sweetie. But, you can freeze them for the future and they hold really well for up to 4 months. If you wrap them individually, you can just pop one out of the freezer one day in the future when you get a real craving for chocolate cake!
Bake them for 15-18 minutes at 350° and let them cool completely.
By now, your mousse components should be cooled enough to combine, so fold in the egg mixture to the strawberry mixture. Place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to begin to firm up.
You don’t want the mixture to be fully firmed up. You do want it to just begin to set, because you still want to fold in some heavy whipping cream, whipped to a soft peak.
Folding tends to be a nebulous term for some. If you’re one of those people, my method is to use a spatula to scrape around the edge of one side of the bowl as you turn the bowl a quarter turn. Continue to push the spatula through the center of the mixtures you are folding together.
Doing this gently and slowly- not stirring it together fast- until the mixtures are fully combined.
Place the mousse in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to set.
When you are ready to assemble this cake, it’s really simple. Remove the cakes from their containers carefully.
Spoon a small amount of the mousse onto a pretty plate. Then gently lay a cake onto the center of the mousse.
If you feel really inclined for decoration you can sprinkle some powdered sugar over it all, or get really fancy and place a piece of paper over the top of the cake, with a heat cut out of it and add powdered sugar to the heart area.
If you do this, be careful to lift the paper directly upward and away from the cake so that the excess sugar on the paper doesn’t spoil the effect by falling on the cake outside the heart.
Add two forks and some romantic music or candlelight or just your favorite show on Netflix and cozy up with your valentine.
Ruby Port Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Mousse
- food processor
- medium mixing bowl
- small saucepan
- small mixing bowl
- stand mixer with paddle attachement or hand mixer
- 3" baking rings or similar sized baking container
- sheet pan lined with silpat or parment paper
- 1/2 cup strawberries sliced roughly
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tbsp unflavored powder gelatin
- 3 tbsp boiling water
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp hot water
- 1 cup heavy cream
Ruby Port Chocolate Cake
- 5 tbsp butter softened at room temperature
- 1/3 cup granualted sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 +1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- dash salt
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp ruby port
- powder sugar for decoration
- Combine strawberries, lemon juice, gelatin and boiling water in a bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Puree until smooth. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Beat the egg yolk, sugar and hot water in a small bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water.
- Whisk the egg mixture until thickened and hot to the touch.
- Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- When both are cooled, fold the egg mixture into the strawberry mixture. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes until just beginning to set.
- After strawberry mixture is just set, whip cream to soft peaks. Fold into strawberry mixture. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours.
Ruby Port Chocolate Cake
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Combine butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl using a hand mixer. Beat until fluffy.
- Add the egg and beat until light in color and very fluffy.
- Add vanilla extract and combine.
- In a seperate bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a measuring cup large enough to hold all the wet ingredients, combine buttermilk, cream, sour cream, and ruby port. Stir together well.
- Begin adding wet and dry ingredients, beginning and ending with wet ingredients and alternating between wet and dry ingredients.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition and limit amount of time mixing the additions in.
- Place 6 3" rings or similar baking dish onto a sheet pan lined with a silpat or parchment paper.
- Spoon the batter into each of the baking containers, not filling more than 2/3 full.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes until center springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and cool completely.
- Spoon mousse onto the center of a dessert plate.
- Gently lay a cake on the top of the mousse.
- Dust with powder sugar.