Califonia Bountiful

Strawberry fields

Moist chocolate cake "soil" lays the groundwork for this whimsical dessert in which bright microgreens mingle with fresh strawberries and strawberry gelato.

Chef Shaun Behrens
Luna Red, San Luis Obispo

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Chocolate "soil"
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

Strawberry gelato
12 oz. fresh strawberries, hulled
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. lemon juice

8 to 12 fresh strawberries, with stems


To make "soil": Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cake pan with greased parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add egg, milk, oil and vanilla; beat for 2 minutes with a whisk. Stir in boiling water and fill cake pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Cool completely.

To make gelato: In a blender, combine strawberries, sugar and milk and puree until smooth. Add cream and mix just enough to combine. Add lemon juice. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Transfer to an ice cream machine and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

To serve: On a plate, pinch chocolate cake to resemble soil. Slice 2 to 3 strawberries per plate lengthwise with the stems on and place into chocolate cake. Add a few small scoops of gelato around strawberries and fill in any gaps with sprigs of microgreens (to resemble grass).

Serves 4

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