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Monday, June 11, 2007

Chocolate Perfection Cake

1 cup unsifted unsweetened cocoa
2 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup light cream
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups unsifted confectioners' sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream (chilled)
1/4 cup unsifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extracted
1 pint fresh strawberries, cleaned and sliced

In a medium bowl, combine cocoa with boiling water, mixing with wire whisk until smooth. Cool completely. Sift flour with soda, salt, and baking powder. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease well and lightly flour three 9x1 1/2-inch lager cake pans. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, at high speed, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, scraping bowl occasionally, until light, about 5 minutes.

At low speed, beat in flour mixture (in fourths), alternating with cocoa mixture (in thirds), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Do not over beat. Divide evenly into pans, smooth top. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Carefully loosen sides with spatula, remove from pans; cool on racks. In medium saucepan, combine chocolate pieces, cream, butter; stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat.

With whisk, blend in 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar. In bowl set over ice, beat until it holds shape. Whip the cream with sugar and vanilla; refrigerate. On plate, place a layer, top side down; spread with half of whipped cream and half of sliced strawberries. Place second layer topside down; spread with the rest of the whipped cream and strawberries. Place third layer topside up.

With a spatula, frost sides first, covering whipped cream; use rest of frosting on top, swirling decoratively. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. To cut, use a thin-edged sharp knife and slice with a sawing motion.

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