There are no words for this decadent Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache…except for bold, delicious, chocolatey strawberry goodness! This is a “lick your plate clean” kind of cake, so throw those manners out the window!
Planning a birthday party and throwing a birthday party for a six year old is quite hilarious. Especially when every little detail is left up to a certain six year old.
Now I love seeing what other people do for their kids’ birthdays. Everything from the invites to the decorations, the food to the goodies, all the way to the games and the party favors are all coordinated into some adorabley cute theme that makes the perfect backdrop for party pictures. (Note: I just realized I didn’t get a single, not a single, picture from Braelyn’s party. What???!)
You know those birthday parties I’m talking about, right? They’re basically Pinterest parties on crack and they are freaking amazing and they make me feel like the lamest mom that has ever graced this planet Earth.
I, on the other hand, just let my child plan her own birthday party. I knew it wouldn’t be all matchy matchy with a cute coordinated theme and creative snacks and games, but I figured if I let her plan it, she would think it was the best party ever. Basically, giving her the reigns was her birthday wish come true. I’m trying to be a little less controlling around here.
Bahahaha! Who am I fooling?! That’s a lie. You guys, I was just plain LAZY! I didn’t want to do all that birthday hype, especially right after the chaos of Christmas. Doing the least amount of work possible was my true agenda. I just got lucky, and turns out my lazy plan turned into “the bestest birthday party ever!!!!!” according to Braelyn. Looks like I should be lazy more often.
So here is how the party planning went:
- Invitations – I snagged a photo of a Monster High invite off the internet and created text boxes in Word where the information needed to go. (Is that legal? I hope so. Oh well) Then we cut them out with the only pair of crafty scissors I own. Done.
- Menu – Braelyn was dead set on making pizzas. I bought flatbreads from Costco, cut them in half, and had the kids top off their own pizzas. Braelyn used a corn tortilla. Done! Oh, and I’m also the crazy health nut mom that makes a fruit tray AND a veggie tray for her six year old’s birthday party and makes each child choose at least one food off each tray. Haha!
- Activities – I introduced the kids the classic girl’s game “Truth or Dare” and they thought it was the coolest game ever. Of course, I came up with all the truth and dare options. I was a little worried about what kinds of questions and challenges six and seven year olds would come up with. Scary thought. We also had an impromptu dance party and made necklaces. And lastly, we watched Hotel Transylvania 2 in our PJ’s with blankets and pillows. Braelyn was concerned that not all of her friends were allowed to watch Monster High like her (does that make me a bad mom?), so she opted for another “monster” show instead. How thoughtful…
- Party favors – I snagged some great deals at Ross on little make up bags. So, instead of candy, we filled those up with girly items like nail polish, a nail filer, lipstick, Frozen socks, hair clips, and eye shadow. The girls thought it was the best present ever!
And that, plus a little drama about who everyone’s BFF’s are this week, sums up Braelyn’s idea of a perfect birthday party. Am I forgetting anything??? Nope, sounds perfect to me…
…NOT! If you know Braelyn at all, then you know the most important party detail is missing from this list. The CAKE!!!
For about a month, on literally a daily basis, Braelyn had been requesting a “chocolate cake with strawberry filling and strawberry frosting, with more chocolate, and Hershey’s kisses, and chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate chips, and strawberries!” for her birthday cake. Since I didn’t put much planning into anything else, I figured the least I could do was give her the perfect cake.
I’m pretty sure this Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Buttercream and Dark Chocolate Ganache was the perfect cake…sans the chocolate sprinkles. I guess you can’t have it all, right?
But Braelyn didn’t even notice the sprinkles were missing. The look in her eyes when she first saw this cake and realized she would be eating it in a few short hours, was nothing short of complete shock and amazement. “That’s for me???!” Yes, yes it is. And she was worth every ounce of sugar in that thing.
I’ve been wanting to experiment baking without using xanthan gum, and this cake was one of my first attempts. Guess what guys? Apparently xanthan gum is not as crucial as I thought it was. In fact, in less than a week, I’ve made a cake, muffins, pancakes, AND cookies all of which had zippo, zero, nada, NO xanthan gum in them. And actually, they tasted even better than when I used xanthan gum. Say what?!
So there you go, one less (expensive) ingredient.
This cake is made up of two layers of delicious, tender, moist chocolate cake that is probably better than most regular chocolate cakes you’ve tried. Trust me. My chocolate cakes are good, I promise!
But most the fun comes from what is surrounding these delicious chocolate cakes. I’m talking about the fresh strawberry buttercream that is sandwiched in the middle, on top, and around the sides. It’s finger licking marvelous!
The trick to a flavorful strawberry buttercream is adding lemon juice for a bit of tartness, and going halfsies with vanilla extract and almond extract. The almond extract enhances the strawberry flavor instead of just using vanilla alone. It gives it more of a fresh bakery taste in my opinion.
And then after chilling the cake with the strawberry buttercream in the fridge for 30 minutes, the magic happens. Magic in this instance is a big old pool of dark chocolate ganache that you get to pour on top and watch drizzle down the sides. Pure heaven.
And last but not least…decorate!!! What is better than a strawberry chocolate cake? A strawberry chocolate cake with Hershey’s kisses and MORE chocolate chips!!! And then I added more fresh strawberries on top just for good measure. You know, just in case anyone was wondering what flavor it was. Hehe!
So, yeah, I’m pretty sure Braelyn’s birthday party was a success. Between Ben and I, we had about 3 or 4 girls come up to us and exclaim that this was practically the best day of their lives. Ah, compliments from kids are the best. They make you feel the coolest…when you obviously aren’t so cool.
Oh, and one last thing. BIG shout out to my hubby who helped me pull the whole thing off. He decorated with streamers, set up tables, tidied up the kitchen while I was corralling 10 squealing children, AND cleaned up most of the disaster after the party guests had left. He’s pretty amazing. Back off, he’s mine.
What’s your idea of the perfect party?
- For the Cake:
- 1 cup boiling water
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 5 oz. roughly chopped semi-sweet chocolate (I used Ghirardeli Dark 60% Cacao Squares)
- 1½ sticks butter (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup sweet sorghum flour
- ⅓ cup coconut flour
- ⅓ cup buckwheat flour
- ⅓ cup potato starch
- ⅓ cup tapioca starch
- For the Strawberry Frosting:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6-7 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt*
- ½ cup pureed strawberries
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon strawberry extract (optional)
- For Chocolate Ganache:
- 5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9" round baking pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper, cut to fit. Lightly flour sides of pans with sorghum flour and set aside.
- In a microwave safe glass bowl or measuring cup, heat water in microwave for 2 minutes until boiling. Pour in cocoa powder and stir until dissolved. Add chopped semi-sweet chocolate and set aside to melt.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each egg addition. Add vanilla and apple cider vinegar and mix until incorporated.
- In a smaller mixing bowl, sift together baking soda, baking powder, salt, sorghum flour, coconut flour, buckwheat flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until combined.
- Stir chocolate mixture until all lumps are gone and chocolate is smooth. Pour chocolate mixture into batter and mix on low until fully incorporated. Mix on medium for an additional 2 minutes. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow flours to absorb moisture.
- Divide batter evenly between baking pans and bake at 350 degrees for 24-28 minutes or until cakes are set and toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean with few dry crumbs.
- Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool completely on cooling racks. Once cakes are cooled, run a knife along the edges to loosen and gently flip out of baking pan.
- To make strawberry frosting, beat butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix until fully incorporated and smooth. Add pureed strawberries, lemon juice, salt, almond extract, vanilla, and strawberry extract. Mix until smooth. Add additional 3 cups powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add additional 1-2 cups powdered sugar, one cup at a time (beating on high for 1 minute in between additions), until desired frosting consistency is reached.
- To make Ganache:**
- In a microwave safe glass bowl or measuring cup, heat cream in microwave on high powder for 45 seconds. Stir heated cream and pour in chocolate chips. Stir until all chocolate chips are melted and mixture is smooth.
- To assemble cake:
- Once cake is cooled and released from pans, put 1 tablespoon of frosting in the middle of cake stand or plate. Place first layer of cake on top (the frosting will hold cake in place) and frost top of layer all the way to the edges. Place second layer of cake on top and frost top of cake. Working in small sections, frost sides of the cake.
- Place cake in fridge for at least 10 minutes for frosting to harden. Remove and add additional frosting to areas that need more coverage. Return cake to fridge for at least 30 minutes so frosting may become completely chilled through.
- Once frosting is hard, make ganache and pour over the top immediately. Spread out to the edges so chocolate can drizzle over the sides. Return cake to fridge for 10-15 minutes so chocolate can set.
- Decorate cake with desired toppings. Cut and serve at room temperature.
- Store leftover cake in airtight container in fridge for up to 5 days or in freezer for up to 3 months.
**Do not make ganache until after cake has been frosted and chilled in the fridge. Strawberry frosting must be cold before pouring ganache on top or it will melt underneath.