All I want: Neapolitan checkerboard cake

I really only made this dessert because I had quite a bit of leftover strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream leftover from a cake I made for a fan, so I racked my brains around what I could possibly do with it. Since I didn’t want to make the same strawberry cake for myself, I opted for a checkerboard cake instead. And what better flavors with strawberry than chocolate and vanilla? Neapolitan ice cream is such a simple combination, but it looks aesthetically pleasing and there’s something there for everyone, so it’s like a win-win really.

For my layers, we have chocolate and vanilla chiffon cakes, strawberry swiss meringue buttercream, chocolate glaze, and three flavors of bavarois, including strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla. Truthfully, the most time consuming part of this cake will be the assembly, and waiting for things to set. But it’s well worth it for the end results!

For the chiffon cake:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 egg whites
1 egg yolk
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder*

Whip egg yolks with half of the sugar and vanilla until it reaches stiff peaks. With the egg yolks, whip with sugar until it reaches ribbon stage then slowly stream in the oil. Sift together your flour, baking powder, and salt. For the vanilla cake, you’ll omit the cocoa, but for the chocolate version, you’ll sift in the cocoa powder as well (you’ll have to make this recipe twice, one for the vanilla, and one for the chocolate anyways). Fold flour, egg yolks, and whites together and pour into a lined 6 inch ring mold. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, and allow the cake to sit in the oven, turned off, for another 5 before removing to prevent deflating.

Strawberry coulis:
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
water as needed

Dice up the berries and toss with lemon juice and salt. Transfer to a pot and add in just enough water to submerge the fruit. Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture is reduced by half. Pass through a sieve, pressing to release as much strawberry flavor as possible from your fruit. You will be using this coulis for both the swiss meringue buttercream and the Bavarian.

For the swiss meringue buttercream:
2 egg whites
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup strawberry coulis
a pinch of salt

On a double boiler, whisk egg whites and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Season with your salt. Transfer to a stand mixer and allow the meringue to whisk up to stiff peaks. Add in your coulis at this point and whisk again to stiff peaks once more. Slowly whisk in your butter on low speed first, gradually increasing the speed of your mixer as the butter emulsifies into the egg whites. The end result will be smooth and creamy. If the mixture splits or looks separated, do not fret! Just whisk it by hand first, just to bring it together. Sometimes the stand mixer doesn’t necessarily have the same force or reach that hand whisking does, and that’s why the mixture might not properly emulsify.

For the Bavarian:
4 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 teaspoons gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark chocolate, chopped finely
2 tablespoons strawberry coulis
1 teaspoon pitaya powder

Melt the gelatin into 1/4 cup of the heavy cream. Whisk egg yolks with sugar and salt. Temper the two together and pass through a sieve. Divide into three batches. While warm, mix chocolate into one of the three. With another, add in the strawberry coulis and the pitaya. In a bowl, whisk vanilla with the 1 cup of heavy cream. Divide into three batches and fold into each bowl. Pour each batch into silicone half dome molds(I used the 1/2 inch and full inch ones) and allow the bavarois to set. For the top balls, melt the flat sides of the half spheres and press together. Keep cold so that the spheres stay firm.

For the glaze:
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon water
a pinch of salt

Melt gelatin and butter into the cream, milk, and salt. Pour in the chocolate and stir slowly, off heat, until the chocolate is fully melted in.

For assembly:
Take your 6 inch rings of cake and slice off the rounded top so that they are perfect cylinders. Cut in half widthwise so that you have 2 layers of chocolate and 2 of vanilla. From here, cut out 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 inch rings from each cake, and swap the rings of cake so that you have layers that resemble a “target”. Spread buttercream on each layer then stack, making sure that the out most round of each cake is a different color than the one beneath it. Freeze the cake until it is firm, 1-2 hours. Heat your glaze to around 90 degrees and pour onto the cake. Allow the glaze to cool down slightly, 5-10 minutes, before arranging on your spheres.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

One Comment Add yours

  1. Virginia L. says:

    Really ingenious! I made checkered board cookies before …but cake!? Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

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