Get ready for a chocolate rush with this Box of Chocolates Cake. This simple chocolate cake gets half of the sugar from strawberry jam. The cake layers are frosted with classic chocolate frosting and red velvet frosting. Topped with a variety of chocolates, make for the perfect chocolate indulgence!
For me, Valentine’s Day is more about the colors than the actual holiday and romancing. After the let down of Christmas and the dreary cold of January, the bright reds, pinks, and whites of Valentine’s Day are welcoming.
The cake is like a chocolate covered strawberry. It’s hard to discern the strawberry flavor, but the slight fruity acidity creeps through the wall of chocolate-y goodness.
This chocolate cake delivers with flavor. No fancy chocolate here. Good old unsweetened cocoa gets a boost in intensity from espresso powder. The chocolate and espresso bloom in warm milk to open up the ingredients’ flavors. The cake is not only super deep and complex, but it is also easily put together. No stand mixer required. Just a few bowls are dirtied and preparation in at a minimum.
I’ve always wanted to make a square shaped cake. I mean I had made one in the past, but I wanted it to be more successful. Using square pans is much easier than cutting squares out of rounded cakes. A simple purchase of 3 disposable 8-by-8 aluminum pans is the easiest solution. Besides this cake, how many square layer cakes are you going to make? I don’t have ample kitchen real estate, so in my case, less is more.
Any chocolate will do for topping the Box of Chocolates Cake. I got a variety and arranged each piece as closely together as possible.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons fine salt
- 1 ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 2 ¼ cups whole milk
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup strawberry jam
- 2 ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- pinch of fine salt
- ¼ cup (½ stick, 2 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 to 3 tablespoons milk
- 4½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup whole milk, room temperature
- 1 one-ounce bottle red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 8-by-8 square pans with baking spray, set aside.
- Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk cocoa powder and espresso powder. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just comes warm to the touch, but not simmering. Pour hot milk over the cocoa and espresso powder, whisk to combine. Let stand until cool, about 6 to 9 minutes.
- Once cool, whisk in sugar, jam, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gently whisk in dry ingredients, until smooth and lump free. Use a rubber spatula to ensure nothing is stuck on the bottom.
- Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating halfway. A toothpick inserted will come out clean with moist, fudge like crumbs. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.
- Sift cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl, set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth (because it's such little butter, be sure not to scratch the inside of the mixing bowl), about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn speed to low and slowly add the sifted dry ingredients. If the mixture is looking too thick, add milk a tablespoon at a time. You want a smooth, not runny, consistency and a deep fudgey color.
- In a bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter and beat on a high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Reduce the speed to low and the add in sugar/cocoa mixture.
- With mixer on low speed, add in milk, red food coloring and vinegar.
- Beat on low/medium low speed until smooth.
- Place one layer on a cake board, securing it with a dab of frosting. Pipe the perimeter with Red Frosting. Fill the inside with the Chocolate Frosting. Repeat this with the second layer, topping with the final third layer. Do a crumb coat to even out the cake's shape. Chill for 10 minutes. Apply a thicker coat of Red Frosting.