Chocolate strawberry cake– three layers of moist chocolate cake, strawberry filling, strawberry buttercream, and rich chocolate ganache. It’s basically a giant chocolate-covered strawberry in cake form!

Chocolate cake with strawberry filling cut in half to show the layers.

As a former pastry chef, I’m always dreaming up new ways to showcase classic desserts. If you love chocolate-covered strawberries as much as I do, you will love this chocolate strawberry cake! We’re using my best chocolate cake recipe and packing it with strawberry flavor.

It’s one of those gorgeous bakery-style desserts that you see in pastry cases, except now you can make it at home!

For more chocolate cake recipes, try my Reese’s cake and mint chocolate ice cream cake!

Why We Love Chocolate Strawberry Cake

  • Lots of chocolate: This cake has three dark chocolate cake layers (like my chocolate raspberry cake) and is topped with a rich chocolate ganache!
  • Fresh strawberry flavor: We’re using real strawberries to make the strawberry filling and the strawberry frosting (no artificial flavors!).
  • Perfect for any occasion: This bakery-style layer cake is perfect for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or as a birthday cake!

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

Ingredients needed to make strawberry chocolate cake in bowls with labels.

Strawberries: You can use frozen or fresh strawberries. I prefer using frozen berries for the filling because they cook down faster and are available year-round. However, I only recommend using fresh strawberries for decorating!

Sour cream: Sour cream adds moisture, richness, and acidity to the cake, activating the baking soda and keeping it moist for days! Substitute with full-fat Greek yogurt if needed.

Unsweetened cocoa powder: Like in my chocolate coffee cake, Dutch-processed cocoa powder contributes a rich, less acidic chocolate flavor compared to regular cocoa powder. It cannot be substituted!

Cake flour: Using cake flour yields a super tender texture, essential for this two-stage cake mixing method. Substituting with all-purpose flour will result in a very tough cake and should not be used!

Coffee: This ingredient enhances the chocolate flavor without giving it any coffee flavor. It’s a key secret ingredient to many bakery chocolate cakes, which is why it’s used in this recipe as well as my chocolate ganache cake. Substitute with hot water.

Find the full list of ingredients, measurements, and instructions in the recipe card below!

How to Pick Ripe Strawberries

If you’d rather use fresh strawberries for the filling instead of frozen ones, here are my top 3 tips on what to look for:

  1. Brightly colored with a deep red hue: These strawberries will be perfectly ripe and sweet!
  2. Check for green caps: The green tops of the berries should be fresh, green, and intact for the freshest flavor. Avoid brown or wilted ones.
  3. Bigger isn’t always better! Consider smaller strawberries, as they are often sweeter than larger ones.

Flavor Variations

  • Thinly slice whole strawberries and pat them dry. Layer them on top of the strawberry filling.
  • Mix 1-2 tablespoons of finely ground freeze-dried strawberries into the frosting.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of strawberry extract to the frosting.
  • If you don’t care for strawberries, you can substitute them for blackberries, blueberries, raspberries (raspberry chocolate cake), or cherries!

Recipe Instructions

Step 1: Combine the dry ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients in a stand mixer. Mix in the butter on low speed until it resembles coarse sand. (Image 1 below)

Step 2: Combine the wet ingredients. Whisk together the sour cream, eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. (Image 2 below)

Step 3: Mix in half of the wet ingredients. Pour half of the wet ingredients into the bowl and mix on low speed for exactly 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl. (Image 3 below)

A process collage of the steps for making the chocolate cake batter.

Step 4: Mix in the coffee. Mix in the rest of the wet ingredients until just combined. Scrape down the bowl. Then mix in the hot coffee. (Image 4 above)

Step 5: Bake the cake layers. Distribute the chocolate cake batter into the prepared cake pans. After baking, cool the pans on a wire rack while you make the filling. (Image 5 below)

Step 6: Make the strawberry filling. Cook the strawberries, lemon juice, and water, mashing occasionally. Reserve 1/4 cup for the frosting. Then mix in the sugar and cornstarch slurry. Cook until thickened, then set aside. (Image 6 below)

A process collage of the steps for making the strawberry filling, strawberry frosting, and filling the cake.

Step 7: Make the strawberry buttercream frosting. Beat the butter, powdered sugar, reserved strawberries, vanilla extract, and heavy cream until light and fluffy. (Image 7 above)

Step 8: Fill the chocolate cake with strawberry filling. Pipe a border of buttercream around the edge of the cake. Then spread half of the strawberry filling in the center. (Image 8 above)

Step 9: Assemble the cake layers. Continue stacking and alternating layers of cake, filling, and frosting, placing the last cake layer upside down so the top of the cake is flat. (Image 9 below)

A process collage of the steps for decorating the chocolate cake with ganache and strawberries.

Step 10: Cover with strawberry frosting. Use the remaining buttercream to cover the top and sides of the cake. If you prefer a thicker layer of frosting you will need to make at least 1.5x or 2x the frosting recipe! (Image 10 above)

Step 11: Make the chocolate ganache. Chill the cake in the fridge while you make the ganache. Pour the hot heavy cream over the chocolate, and stir to emulsify. Wait 5-10 minutes before using it so you don’t melt the frosting! (Image 11 above)

Step 12: Decorate the chocolate strawberry cake. Pour the ganache on top of the cake, and use an offset spatula to spread it over the edges. Let it set, then garnish the chocolate cake with strawberries and chocolate pieces. (Image 12 above)

Tips for Success

  • Use a kitchen scale. Baking with a scale is my #1 baking tip! If you do not have a scale, use a spoon to fluff the flour first, then spoon it into your measuring cup.
  • Use frozen strawberries for the filling and fresh strawberries for the top! Frozen berries cook down faster and are easier to mash.
  • Let the ganache set before chilling. If the ganache isn’t set enough before chilling, the shock of cold air will crack the ganache.
  • Strain the filling if needed. If you prefer a seedless filling, once cooked, push it through a fine mesh strainer.
  • Use room temperature ingredients. This creates a smooth, fully blended batter that will result in a uniform texture and even baking.

Storage, Freezing, and Making Ahead

Storage: To keep the cake moist, wrap any leftover cake slices with plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also store the entire uncut cake in the fridge for up to 1 week!

Freezer: You can store the uncut cake or individual slices wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight container.

Make ahead: Cake layers: Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 3-5 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Buttercream: Can be made and refrigerated for 1-2 weeks. Strawberry filling: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week.

FAQs

How do I adjust the baking time and temperature if I’m using a different-sized cake pan?

For a 9×13 baking pan, bake at 350 F for roughly 15-25 minutes.
For two 9-inch cake pans, bake at 350 F for roughly 20-30 minutes. Always check on them occasionally and test for doneness!

Can I use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour?

No, this recipe uses a special cake mixing technique that requires low-protein flour like cake flour. Using all-purpose flour will develop too much gluten and result in a very tough texture.

What brand of cocoa powder do you recommend?

Ghiradelli is my personal favorite, I always find it at Walmart! Hershey’s Special Dark is a great alternative and is found in most grocery stores.

Can I use a different type of fruit instead of strawberries?

Yes. Substitute the strawberries for cherries, raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries! Note that you may need to add more or less cornstarch to the filling depending on what berry you use.

How long should I let the cake cool before frosting it?

Let the cake pans cool for 20 minutes, then remove them from the pans and let them finish cooling on the wire rack for about 1 hour. You’ll know they’re ready when the middle of the cake feels cool to the touch.

Should I refrigerate the cake, or can it be stored at room temperature?

For serving purposes, it’s best to leave the cake at room temperature. For storing and when not serving, store the cake in the fridge to keep it soft and moist!

Chocolate strawberry cake with fresh strawberries and ganache on a wooden cake board.

More Strawberry Recipes

If you tried this or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how it went in the comments below. I love hearing from you! Also, please leave a star rating while you’re there! You can also tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can check it out!

Chocolate cake with strawberry filling on a wooden cake stand.

Chocolate Strawberry Cake

5 from 10 votes

Chocolate strawberry cake– three layers of moist chocolate cake, fresh strawberry filling, fluffy strawberry buttercream, and chocolate ganache. It's basically a giant chocolate-covered strawberry in cake form!
Print Recipe Save Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 18 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 servings

Equipment

Need Metric Measurements?Use the button options below to toggle between US cups and Metric grams!

Ingredients 
 

Chocolate Cake Batter

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons cake flour, *See notes below for measuring*
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder, I use Ghiradelli
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee, sub hot water

Strawberry Filling

  • 3 cups frozen strawberries, sub fresh strawberries
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Strawberry Buttercream

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 oz 70% dark chocolate bar
  • whole fresh strawberries, for decorating

Instructions

For the Cake Batter

  • Grease the sides of three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Preheat then oven to 350 F/180 C.
  • Combine the cake flour, sugar, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the butter until it resembles coarse sand, about 3 minutes on low speed.
    2 cups + 2 tablespoons (230 g) cake flour, 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar, 3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder, 1/2 cup (100 g) dark brown sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, 6 1/2 tablespoons (90 g) softened unsalted butter
  • Whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add half to the bowl and mix on low speed for 1 minute, forming a thick paste. Scrape down the bowl. Mix in the rest of the milk mixture until just combined. Scrape down the bowl. Then mix in the hot coffee until just combined. Scrape the bowl again if needed.
    1 cup (228 g) sour cream, 1/2 cup (113 g) whole milk, 2 (100 g) large eggs, 1/4 cup (56 g) vegetable oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 cup (210 g) hot coffee
  • Evenly distribute the cake batter into the prepared cake pans (490 grams in each). Bake for 18-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out covered in a few moist crumbs.

For the Filling

  • Cook the strawberries, water, and lemon juice over medium heat, mashing occasionally, until glossy and thickened, about 15 minutes. Set aside a heaping 1/4 cup for the buttercream.
    3 cups (367 g) frozen strawberries, 4 tablespoons water, 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Mix the sugar and brown sugar into the pot and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook 2 minutes longer until it no longer looks cloudy. Transfer the filling to a bowl and set it aside to cool.
    2 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon water, 1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the Buttercream

  • Cream the butter in a stand mixing bowl until smooth. Then mix in the powdered sugar. Once combined, beat the buttercream for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Mix in the strawberry compote 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition before adding the next. Then mix in the vanilla extract and heavy cream. Beat the buttercream on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy again.
    1 1/2 cups (340 g) unsalted butter, 2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar, 1/4 cup (65 g) reserved strawberry filling, 1 tablespoon heavy cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Assembly

  • Pipe a border of strawberry buttercream around the edge of the first cake layer. Then spread half of the strawberry filling in the center.
  • Continue assembling, with the last cake layer placed upside down for a flat top. Use the remaining buttercream to cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting (for a naked cake look). Then chill the cake in the fridge while you make the ganache.
    If you prefer a thicker layer of frosting, you will want to make a double batch of buttercream!
  • Heat the cream in the microwave or in a pot on the stove until almost boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips, then stir to emulsify. Set it aside for 5 minutes to cool. If it’s warm it will melt the buttercream!
    1 1/2 oz (44 g) 70% dark chocolate bar, 1/3 cup (75 g) heavy cream
  • Pour the ganache on top of the cake and use an offset spatula to push it over the edges. Let it set for 15 minutes before garnishing the top with whole strawberries and chocolate pieces. Let it set completely at room temperature before chilling to avoid cracking!
    whole fresh strawberries, for decorating

Video

Notes

*Measure your dry ingredients properly. This is my #1 baking tip! Do not ever scoop a measuring cup into your flour as this always leads to using too much flour. Instead, use the spoon-level method. This means fluffing the flour first, then spooning it into your measuring cup/spoon. For the BEST results, use a kitchen scale!*
Storage: To keep the cake moist, wrap any leftover cake slices with plastic wrap and store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also store the entire uncut cake in the fridge for up to 1 week!
Freezer: You can store the whole, uncut cake or as individual slices wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in an airtight container.
Make ahead: Cake layers: Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 3-5 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Buttercream: Can be made and refrigerated for 1-2 weeks. Strawberry filling: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week.
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 669kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 337mg | Potassium: 269mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 73g | Vitamin A: 1271IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 2mg

The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.

The calorie information provided for the recipe is an estimate. The accuracy of the calories listed is not guaranteed.

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Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. Janet Luepke says:

    I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday. We served it while at a restruant and shared it with our server. She came back out saying it was the BEST chocolate cake she has ever had! Absolutely the the best chocolate flavor!5 stars

  2. This was my first time making a layered cake. I’ve started making cakes from scratch for my wife’s birthday. This year she wanted chocolate and strawberry. I found your recipe and it was amazing. The directions were clear and very easy to follow. The taste was amazing; everyone enjoyed the cake. Very moist and rich in flavor. Every aspect of the cake met or exceeded my expectations. Thank you for posting the recipe. I look forward to trying some of your others.5 stars

    1. I’m so happy to hear that Kris! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review.

  3. Easily one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. Lots of strawberry flavor even with the rich chocolate!5 stars