One of the first recipes I ever half-sized was this chocolate cake with strawberry icing. Unlike many of the recipes I have shared here, this one was not a family favorite. In fact, I had never made it before. In the early days of the Pandemic, I kept obsessing about chocolate-and-berry combo cakes I'd had in restaurants, and a quick online search led me to this recipe. The author describes it as "my most popular cake recipe" and I can see why – the cake itself is moist and deeply chocolate-y, and the strawberry frosting has a really fresh, lovely flavor.
I'm very grateful to the original author. If this recipe had not turned out well, I might have been discouraged about the whole notion of down-sizing a cake. But since it was such a success with the whole family, I was motivated to try out more recipes.
This cake is named after the character "Willow" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: its fluffy pink exterior hides a delicious dark heart! Fans of Buffy will recognize "that fluffy pink number" as a quote from "The Initiative" (Season 4, Episode 7).
Notes: this recipe is gluten-free. If you do not want a gluten-free cake, you can substitute all-purpose flour for the gluten-free flour, and omit the xanthan gum.
My starting point for this recipe was "Chocolate Cake with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Frosting" from Cake-n-Knife. Aside from half-sizing it and making it gluten-free, I made very few changes. However, I did substitute frozen strawberries for the fresh strawberries in the frosting. I chose this because frozen strawberries lose some liquid as they thaw, which makes the strawberry puree more concentrated. The other way to make a strawberry puree more concentrated would be to simmer off some of the liquid, but that interferes with the fresh fruit taste.