I’ve already shared a Neapolitan cake recipe on the blog, but here is a new twist on the idea. You can use your favorite 3-layer chocolate cake recipe (even from a box) or use the one I provided below. The real star of the cake is the 3-flavored frosting, though, so make sure you try it!
I love the look of an exposed side cake, but it does dry out a lot faster than a traditionally frosted cake. Keeping that in mind, I would highly suggested making it the day that you plan to serve it. If that doesn’t work with your schedule, you can freeze the cooled layers of cake and assemble the day of serving.
Dark Chocolate Cake (makes a 3-layer 8-inch cake)
2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 3 – 8 inch round cake pans with Baker’s Joy (or similar) and cover bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Set aside.
In medium heat-proof bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at time, then stir in vanilla. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the cocoa mixture. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans.
Bake for 22-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with a moist crumb attached. Do not overbake! Let cake cool completely before frosting.
Neapolitan Frosting (makes enough to fill 1 8-inch cake)
5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1 Tbs pieces
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp strawberry extract, or 2 Tbs strawberry puree
Few drops pink food coloring (gel preferred)
Whisk together egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set bowl over a small pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves. You know it’s ready with the you cannot feel the sugar when you rub a small amount of mixture between your fingers.
Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, about 10 minutes. The bowl should be cool to the touch before you move on.
Switch over to the paddle attachment and set the mixer to medium speed. Add the butter 2 Tbs at a time, letting it incorporate before adding another piece. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat until the frosting comes together. This will take a while, so don’t worry if it looks soupy or curdled at any point. I find that it helps (if it’s not cooperating) to briefly chill in the fridge for a few minutes and then remixing. Add vanilla and mix untril well incorporated.
Once the frosting is ready, divide into 3 bowls. In the first bowl, mix in cooled chocolate until well incorporated. In the second bowl, stir in strawberry extract (or strawberry puree) and a touch of pink food coloring. Leave the third bowl as vanilla.
To assemble the cake, first level each cake layer. If you used the recipe above, it domes quite a bit so you’ll have lots of cake scraps for snacking! Place one layer of cake on a cardboard cake round (covered in foil if you like) and frost with a thick layer of the chocolate frosting. Leave enough frosting to pipe around the edge, if desired. Place the next layer of cake face down on the chocolate frosting and apply a thick layer of vanilla frosting. Again, leave enough vanilla for decorating the edge. Repeat with last layer and strawberry frosting. Place remaining frosting in 3 piping bags fit with open star tips. Pipe around the edge of each layer for a more polished look. Top with a generous pinch of sprinkles and you’re finished!