Special equipment: a candy thermometer
For the chocolate cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray two 9-inch cake pans with baking spray. In a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment running at low speed, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Turn up the speed slightly and mix in the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, sour cream and vanilla extract until just combined. In a medium bowl pour 1 1/3 cups boiling water over the cocoa powder and blend well with a whisk. Pour the cocoa mixture into the mixing bowl with the other ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Divide the batter evenly into two prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pans on a rack 15 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto racks and let cool completely, about 45 minutes.
For the Swiss meringue buttercream:Place a metal mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water to create a double boiler, making sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Put the sugar and egg whites in the bowl and whisk lightly until the mixture reaches 140 degrees F, all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is silky-smooth to the touch. Pour the egg white mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and add the vanilla. Beat until fluffy, glossy white peaks form, 5 to 10 minutes. Lower the mixer to the slowest speed and slowly add the butter and salt. The mixture will slowly thicken up and smooth out into the silkiest buttercream ever!
For the chocolate ganache: Warm the heavy whipping cream over medium heat until it is just boiling, then pour over the chocolate chips and let sit, 1 minute. Stir the mixture with a whisk until all of the chocolate chips are melted and you have a smooth, creamy texture (you may microwave for 30 seconds and mix again until all of the chips are melted). Add the vanilla extract.
Assemble the cake: Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate and coat the top with some of the Swiss meringue buttercream (reserve the remainder for another use). Chop up the strawberries and sprinkle them over the buttercream. Place the second layer of cake on top and ice the entire cake with the chocolate ganache. Enjoy!
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.