Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cake

As I was thinking ahead to Valentine’s day, I reminisced on the Valentine’s day cakes I’ve made in the past. That was when I realized I made an adorable dark chocolate strawberry cake a few years back, but never shared the recipe!

As I remade this cake, I made a couple adjustments.

One notable change is how I make my strawberry buttercream, along with a slight tweak to simplify the decoration.

image of chocolate dipped strawberry cake with chocolate ganache and strawberry buttercream

But before we get into all that good stuff, let’s talk about each delicious component of this cake.

The Dark Chocolate Cake Layers

This cake is made with my small-batch chocolate cake recipe. It makes three, perfectly-sized six inch cake layers.

It uses dark cocoa powder, which gives it an amazing depth of flavor.

The recipe also includes buttermilk, which makes the cake layers moist and tender.

I wanted to really pack this cake with filling, so I decided to torte the cake layers (like I did for my pink velvet cake).

To do this, you simply cut your leveled cake layer in half horizontally, to turn one cake layer into two thin cake layers.

While I level cakes all the time, I don’t torte them very often.

image of chocolate cake with strawberry buttercream and fresh strawberry filling

My layers didn’t turn out quite as even as I’d envisioned, but they still helped me accomplish my goal.

I now had 6 cake layers instead of three! This allowed me to add 5 delicious layers of filling to this cake.

The Strawberry Buttercream

As important as the cake layers are, the strawberry buttercream needed to be spot on. I wanted it to be packed with real strawberry flavor.

However, I’ve run into issues adding fresh strawberries to buttercream in the past.

These attempts have included adding a strawberry reduction, and strawberry preserves. During both attempts, my buttercream broke before I added enough to be happy with the flavor.

I also tried adding a strawberry emulsion, which made the frosting taste like a strawberry jolly rancher. It definitely wasn’t the flavor I was after.

This year I finally discovered strawberry powder. It’s made from real, freeze dried strawberries.

image of strawberry buttercream on whisk attachment with kitchenaid mixer in the background

It adds tons of real fruit flavor into the frosting, without throwing off the consistency!

In my opinion, it’s by far and away the best way to make strawberry frosting.

I order my strawberry powder on amazon, and some health food stores carry it.

You can also find freeze dried strawberries at most grocery stores, and pulverize them into a powder in a food processor.

The Cake Filling: Fresh Strawberries and Chocolate Ganache

Now for the rest of the cake filling. I wanted this cake to be bursting with dark chocolate and strawberry flavor.

To take things up a notch, I also added diced strawberries on top of the strawberry buttercream.

Then I drizzled my favorite strawberry preserves and a dark chocolate ganache over the top.

image of chocolate cake with strawberry filling

It gives every bite a ton of flavor. The dark chocolate ganache drizzle and cake layers do a great job balancing out the sweetness of the strawberry buttercream and preserves.

The Cake Decoration: Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

The final aspect of this chocolate and strawberry cake is its decoration.

With the same dark chocolate ganache drizzled inside the cake, I coated some strawberries and added a partial chocolate drip around each berry on top of the cake.

I think it gives the cake a whimsical look, and lets you know exactly what’s waiting for you inside.

image of chocolate covered strawberry cake, with chocolate drips being added to the cake with a plastic squirt bottle

I like to use a squirt bottle to add my drips, but you can also use a spoon!

If you’ve never added drips to a cake before, I cover everything you need to know about it in this post about chocolate ganache drips.

Tips for Making the Best Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cake

  • Don’t overmix your batter, stir until the flour is just combined
  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level), or even better, use a kitchen scale
  • Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature to help them mix together better
  • Use strawberry powder to really pack your strawberry buttercream with flavor!
  • Cut your cake layers in half horizontally with a serrated knife, to create 6 thin cake layers! This allows you to pack twice as much filling into this cake.
image of dark chocolate strawberry cake with slice cut

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this dark chocolate strawberry cake recipe, please tag me @chelsweets. Please leave a rating, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Also use the #chelsweets so that I can see your baking!

Yield: 16

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cake

image of dark chocolate strawberry cake

This dark chocolate strawberry cake is made with moist, dark chocolate cake layers, real strawberry buttercream, fresh strawberries and chocolate ganache!!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

Dark Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (260 grams)
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar (330 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (4 grams)
  • 2/3 tsp baking soda (4 grams)
  • 3 large eggs, room temp (168 grams)
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temp (150 grams)
  • 2/3 cup hot water (156 grams)
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk, room temp (158 grams)
  • 2/3 cup dark cocoa (67 grams)

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (434 grams; 1 lb box)
  • 1/2 cup freeze dried strawberry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)
  • 7 cups powdered sugar (907 grams; 2 lb bag)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream) (150 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice; about 1/2 small lemon (12 grams)

Chocolate Ganache Drip

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (175 grams)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (230 grams)

Additional Ingredients for Decoration and Filling

  • 2 cups of diced strawberries (filling)
  • 1 1/4 cup of strawberry preserves (filling)
  • 8 small strawberries
  • 1 package of freeze dried strawberries (optional)

Instructions

Dark Chocolate Cake Layers

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line three 6-inch pans with parchment rounds, and spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Add the sugar and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix on high for 1 minute with a whisk attachment. The mixture should become light in color.
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Then add baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix on high for another minute.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the cup of hot water, and cup of room temperature buttermilk. Pour in the cup of dark cocoa powder, and whisk until no clumps remain.
  5. Next, add 1 cup of flour into the butter/egg mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula, to ensure the flour is fully incorporated.
  6. Pour in the buttermilk/cocoa mixture, and gently pulse the mixture to incorporate the liquid (if you don't, you'll end up splattering the cocoa mixture all over your kitchen!)
  7. Mix in the 2nd cup of flour, at a low speed, and mix on low until the flour is incorporated.
  8. Evenly divide between the prepared pans.
  9. Bake for 30-32 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Allow layers to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around the edge of the pans to help separate the layers from the pans.
  11. Place the pans in the freezer for about 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers from the pans.
  12. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers.
  13. If desired, cut each cake layer in half horizontally with a serrated knife, to create 6 thin cake layers.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Mix in the freeze dried strawberry powder, vanilla extract, and salt on a low speed
  2. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.
  3. Mix in the freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  4. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. 
  5. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 Tbsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  6. Stir by hand with a rubber spatula for a couple minutes to get the frosting SUPER smooth.

Chocolate Ganache:

  1. Place the dark chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl, and set aside.
  2. Heat heavy cream in a heatproof bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until gently bubbling.
  3. If you don’t have a microwave or prefer to use the stove top, you can heat the cream over a medium heat in a pan until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat.
  4. Gently pour the heavy cream over the chocolate chips, making sure they are covered with cream. Allow mixture to sit for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir slowly until the cream and chocolate are fully combined, and ganache is silky smooth.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

To Assemble This Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cake:

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Add an even layer of strawberry buttercream on top of your first cake layer.
  3. Pipe a ring of strawberry buttercream on top of this, and spread 1/3 cup of diced strawberries inside the ring. Drizzle about 1/4 cup of strawberry preserves, and 1-2 Tbsp of dark chocolate ganache over the strawberries.
  4. Repeat with remaining cake layers.
  5. Apply a thin coat of frosting around the the cake, to fully cover the cake layers.
  6. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  7. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper.
  8. Press freeze dried strawberries around the base of the cake, and chill it one more time until the frosting is firm to the touch (fridge: 20 minutes or freezer: 10 minutes)
  9. Cover the small strawberries in chocolate ganache, and place them around the the top of the cake. Add drips around each strawberry with chocolate ganache using either a plastic bottle or spoon.
  10. Enjoy!

Notes

This cake can be assembled and decorated in advance, but should be refrigerated once made, and consumed with a few days because of the fresh strawberries inside the cake.

These cake layers can be made in advance!! Learn more about how far in advance they can be made, and how to properly wrap them in my post on how to make cake layers ahead of time.

This buttercream can also be made in advance!! I highly recommend making it ahead of time to make the decoration of a cake less stressful and more fun. It keeps in the fridge for up to a week if stored in an airtight container.

When you're ready to use the chilled buttercream, remove it from the fridge a few hours in advance (or overnight) and allow it to come to room temperature.

Give it a good stir with a rubber spatula or your kitchen aid, to get rid of any air bubbles that may have formed. Once the buttercream is smooth again, it's ready to use!

Nutrition Information

Yield

16

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 852Total Fat 45gSaturated Fat 27gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 146mgSodium 285mgCarbohydrates 111gFiber 3gSugar 88gProtein 6g

40 thoughts on “Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cake

  1. Hi, i have a question. I saw this cake on tiktok and wanted to try it out but you hadn´t posted the recipe so I looked out for a chocolate cake and a strawberry buttercream. What is the diffrence between the Frosting and the buttercream
    ? Wich one will taste better?

    1. Hi Mira,

      Sorry it took so long for me to share this recipe!! To me, frosting and buttercream and the same! I use the words interchangeable 🙂 Hope that makes sense, this is the recipe I used to make the cake in that tiktok video! Happy baking <3

  2. Hi Chelsey! This strawberry buttercream sounds delicious! Definitely going to make this cake for Valentine’s Day for my family!

    Would you recommend using bubble tea straws to support with the fruit filling/6 layers? Or should this hold up just fine without the extra support? When do you use bubble tea straws at all in a single tiered cake?

    As always thanks for your endless support in the kitchen!

    Natalie

    1. Hi Natalie,

      That’s awesome, I bet they’ll love it! I didn’t have any issues with the cake supporting itself (the cake layers have pretty good structure), but you might want to insert a central dowel to make it easier to frost! It ends up being quite tall and I had to be careful when I was crumb coating it.

      I hope that helps, happy baking and happy early valentine’s day!! 🙂

  3. What is the total yield on the strawberry buttercream, and about how many cupcakes would it frost with a generous amount on each cupcake?

    1. Hi Bailey,

      This recipe makes 6-7 cups of frosting (it varies based on how much air gets beaten into the frosting). I’d say you can generously frost about 3 dozen cupcakes with that amount (piping big swirls). Hope that helps, happy baking! <3

  4. I love your videos and recipes!!! Is this cake ok to make 2 nights in advance even with fresh strawberries? I’d like to make it for a work event Friday but with a small toddler I can only work on it after bedtime????? My plan is to bake and crumb coat Wednesday night and the top coat and decorate Thursday night?

    1. Aw thank you Christina!! Two days in advance should be fine as long as the strawberries you use are super fresh and properly dried off! I left this cake in my fridge for two days, and it still tasted great when I took it out. I think that’s about as long as I like to let a cake with fresh fruit sit though!!

      Your plan should work great! I also love that you’re breaking up the process into chunks, it makes baking a cake from scratch so much more manageable 🙂 Please let me know how the cake turns out, I’d love to know!

  5. You are the best baking blogger I have come across in a long time, THANK YOU!!

    Question: if I wanted to use three 8” pans instead, how would that change the recipe?

    1. Aw thank you Lindsay!! You can totally use three 8 inch pans, and not cut the cake layers in half vertically. The bake time should be about the same, the only difference is that you might have a bit of leftover strawberry frosting. Hope that helps, happy baking!!

  6. This is the first time I’ve ever written a review for any recipe and I really just had to because this one is absolutely amazing. It’s my favorite dessert I’ve ever made, an absolute showstopper. You’re like a magical baking fairy, seriously.

  7. So I see that in your regular chocolate cake recipe you used espresso powder, is there a reason it’s omitted in the small batch recipes?

    1. Hi Melina,

      I love chocolate cakes with espresso powder, but I always get comments asking if it can be omitted. For that reason, I decided to exclude it from my small batch recipe. If you enjoy chocolate cake with it, feel free to add it 🙂 Hope that helps, happy baking!

  8. Hi I love watching you videos!! I’m try to make this cake and all I can find is Hershey’s cocoa natural unsweetened. The recipe says it needs dark cocoa powder. Will my cake come out different if I use the Hershey powder? Or do you know what store would have the dark cocoa

    1. Hi Ashley,

      I prefer this cake with dark cocoa powder, but it will still bake up great with regular baking cocoa!! That will work just fine 🙂 happy baking!

  9. Hi,
    I was hoping to make this cake for my birthday this weekend but it seems I haven’t prepared properly. I live in Australia and I cannot get any freeze dried strawberry powder or even any freeze dried strawberry’s nearby without delivery which i do no have the time for. Is there anything alternate that I can use that is slightly more mainstream?

    1. Hi Sienna,

      So sorry for the delayed response! You can use strawberry jam in the frosting to flavor it if freeze dried strawberries aren’t an option, you just have to be careful not to add too much or it will break. You can also puree some strawberries with a bit of lemon juice and sugar, and cook them down to thick consistency, and add that to your frosting. Hope your cake turned out ok in the end!! <3

    1. Hi Jax,

      It can! I’d recommend making a 1/2 batch of batter, and filling the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way. Bake in a 350 F oven for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  10. Hi Chelsea
    Love all your cake recipes and really keen to try this recipe. I need to purchase the freeze dried strawberry powder and in uk I can’t order the exact one you’ve used. I’ve noticed the brand you’ve used the pink colour from the strawberry powder comes up a lovely colour. When I go on Amazon uk and search for freeze dried strawberry powder they look very dark in colour. Is the powder naturally quite dark and then becomes much more light pink in Colour once added to buttercream mix?
    Thanks amy x

    1. Hi Amy,

      That’s a bummer! The powder is slightly darker than frosting, but it isn’t super dark in color. It’s a nice red color!! I think as long as the strawberries are naturally dried and ground up it should be ok thought <3

  11. All good, thank you for responding, i managed to find some in a health store on the other side of town. I made the cake and it was absolutely delicious!!!! It’s definitely one of my family favourite sweets ever!!!

    1. Aw I’m so happy to hear that!! Love that you drove across town to get it, that’s true dedication! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!!

  12. I have this recipe in the oven at the moment and can’t wait to see how it turns out. As an avid baker I noticed a few things in the recipe that I wanted to mention to make it easier for people who dont bake often but want to try your recipe. In step number 4 the wording is confusing—it says to add the cup of hot water, cup of buttermilk and cup of cocoa powder. This almost messed me up since it isn’t a Cup of each in the recipe, only 2/3 cup. Also having step 4 before step 5…I added them in the wrong order. Worked out anyway, but step 5 should be before step 4.

    Also, recipes are just always much easier to use when the ingredients are listed in the order they are used in the instructions.

    Just some helpful hints for either someone who reads this and plans to bake it, or maybe a few changes you might want to make. I am actually trying this recipe for a wedding cake I have to make this weekend…this is my trial run. The bride wants strawberry so I decided to try your cake as well 🙂
    Cheers!!

  13. Hi, I’m going to make this cake a day before my event and decorate it the night before the event, how long before we eat it should I take it out the fridge?

  14. Would your gluten free chocolate cake be sturdy enough for this recipe? I was combining several different recipes for a chocolate covered strawberry cake when you had the whole thing right here!

  15. Hi. I made this using the small batch recipe and 3 x 6 inch tins but didn’t manage to get the 6 layers as came out quite thin the layers. I have 3 x 8 inch tins I would like to use and would like to get 6 good layers. Do you recommend doubling recipe and then baking for longer ? Thanks

  16. so i’m eager to try out the recipe but i don’t know if it will be moist enough. I read online that adding an additional 2 egg yolks makes it denser and more moist. do you recommend leaving it as is or adding them?

  17. Not a fan of butter cream so I decided to make a berry infused white chocolate whipped ganache for frosting. It was a disaster! Lol. So I whipped some dark chocolate ganache for frosting and used the berry ganache between layers. But everything was saved from being a disaster because of the lovely cake sponge. The sponge was so scrumptious!!! Still have the tops left over that I munch on with my coffee.
    Love the cake recipe!

  18. Hi Chelsea!!

    I’ve never commented on recipe threads before but am so excited about your blog!

    I’m a beginner (hobby) baker, and am looking forward to recreating this delicious and beautiful cake!

    Question….would it be okay to switch the fresh strawberry powder for a Quik-strawberry powder. (I’d only do that now…because I cant wait to get the proper ingredient lol).

    Any feedback will be great…and thank you for sharing!!!! I’m loving your vibe and cakes!

    Best,
    Fiorella

  19. hi Chels!
    I know you recommend using half a batch of batter for cupcakes, I was just wondering how many cupcakes that would make?
    Thank You!

Let me know what you think!