2017, you’ve been a peach. While not always easy, it’s been a year filled with both highs and lows, joy and sadness, challenges and life lessons. Whether your leaving 2017 on a personal high, thankful for the last twelve months of living life to the fullest, or anxious to cross the finish line, looking forward to 2018 for a fresh start, there’s one thing we should all make sure to do in the coming days: CELEBRATE! The wins, the losses, all of life’s twists and turns — ‘tis the season to toast them all.
The all-wise and impossibly fabulous Julia Child once said, “A party without cake is just a meeting,” and this cake was born to party. Developed with a New Year’s Eve party in mind (hence the bubbly), it’s an extra special, extra indulgent cake, fit for an evening of sparkle-clad celebrating.
It’s made up of three layers of champagne-spiked cake, layered with almond-scented whipped mascarpone and strawberry compote, and then smeared with a healthy layer of strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream.
The champagne cake is insanely moist thanks to the addition of two cups of bubbly and just lightly sweet so that it acts as a lovely palette for our decadent fillings. To make the cake, you don’t have to use the good stuff, but make sure you choose a champagne you’d drink by the glass because the flavors do concentrate when baked.
The strawberry compote adds a bright freshness to the cake (not to mention it’s a classic champagne pairing) and when added to the buttercream results in a deliciously smooth, strawberry-packed frosting with flavor reminiscent of a strawberry milkshake, that I guarantee party-goers won’t be able to stop raving about. But perhaps my favorite element? The almond mascarpone filling. It’s insanely decadent — a once-a-year kind of treat — that elevates this cake to a truly spectacular dessert for ringing in the new year.
Happy New Year to all! I hope your celebrations are filled with fat slices of cake, overflowing glasses of bubbly, and that 2018 brings you only the best. Cheers!
For the champagne cake:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 6 large egg whites
- 2 cups champagne or sparkling white wine
For the strawberry compote:
- 1 16 oz. bag frozen strawberries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
For the almond mascarpone filling:
- 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, cold
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For the strawberry swiss meringue buttercream:
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), at room temperature and cut into 2 tablespoon pieces
- 1/4 cup strawberry compote (recipe above)
- To prepare the champagne cake: Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and line 3 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, approximately 5-7 minutes. Add the egg whites one at a time until well blended.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the champagne in three additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing until just blended.
- Divide the batter between the cake pans. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely. If not assembling immediately, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
- To prepare the strawberry compote: Combine all ingredients in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat and cook until strawberries begin to break down and the mixture thickens to the texture of a loose jam. Cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- To prepare the almond mascarpone filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese and mascarpone until well combined.
- Add the cold cream and start the mixer on low to combine then increase the speed and beat for 2-3 minutes until fluffy.
- Add the confectioners sugar and almond extract and beat until smooth.
- To prepare the Swiss meringue buttercream: Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl and set over a pot of simmering water.
- Heat, whisking frequently, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, 8-10 minutes. The bowl should no longer feel hot.
- Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Note: If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again.
- Add the strawberry compote and beat until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- To assemble: Place one layer of cake on your serving dish. Top with a layer of mascarpone filling and then a layer of strawberry compote. Top with another layer of cake and repeat. Once the top layer of the cake has been added, place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set up.
- Once chilled, frost the outside of the cake with a very thin layer of buttercream. This is known as the crumb coat and will keep any crumbs from sneaking into the final layer of frosting. Place in the refrigerator again to firm up for another 15 minutes.
- Once your crumb coat is firm, finish frosting the cake with thick layer of strawberry buttercream.
- Top with fresh strawberries, meringue stars, marzipan cutouts and edible glitter before serving (optional).