Will has an apron with a rocket ship on it. When it comes time to start cooking, he requests it and orders reminds me to get one of my aprons out too. Then he asks where to go. Sometimes, when whatever we are making requires a lot of measuring and stirring, we set up at the kitchen table. Other times, when our creations use the stand mixer, he pulls a chair to the counter. Yesterday was a counter-cooking day.
While we were cooking, it struck me how Will’s skills have improved. When we started cooking together regularly more than two years ago, he would frequently spill flour while sifting with the whisk and spooning the mixture into the mixer involved lots of spillage. It was to be expected … he was just a toddler. But these days he’s continuing growing, changing and learning. His movements are more fluid. And he understands things that amaze me – like why we use baking powder. Everything about him amazes me.
Last summer, the kids and I went berry picking with friends and froze a good deal of strawberries for the winter. The berries are sweet and tender, perfect for smoothies, pancakes, anything. Will, with his magical memory, remembered earlier this week how we’d picked in the pouring rain. It was so much fun.
This snack cake started with an idea: how could we use those delicious strawberries in a baked good? I honestly am not that fond of chopped berries in bread-y items. They tend to make the result a little too gooey. So, I wanted to take a different approach: puree.
The result? A moist cake, with a hint of strawberry flavor and a glorious layer of chocolate. Delish. This is best eaten the day it’s made with a glass of milk, but can store for a few days in an airtight container.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, , room temperature
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup whole strawberries, (can be defrosted from frozen)
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with butter and then sprinkle with flour. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add the two eggs and beat into the batter.
- Kid Step: In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder using a wire whisk. With the mixer running on its lowest setting, add the flour to the butter mixture one spoonful at a time until it's all been combined. Stop the mixer and scrap down the bowl, if necessary.
- Kid Step: Add the strawberries to the bowl of a mini-food processor. Process until smooth.
- Pour the strawberry puree into the stand mixer and beat to combine. Add the chocolate chips and run the mixer on low to just combine.
- Kid Step: Work together to pour the batter into the prepared pan, using a spatula to scrap all the batter out. Gently tap the pan to ensure that the batter is even.
- Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting. A completely cooled cake is easiest to cut.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.