I will have to say, my oldest daughter has really good taste in cakes. I can even say that without actually liking chocolate. Or cake really for that matter. I know, I know, I am one of those strange people that actually doesn’t like cake that much. Well, “normal” cake. I love love the Milkbar method cakes I’ve been making this past year or two. I think because you mostly get rid of the frosting (which I normally can’t stand) and the consistency of the cake is different.
Every birthday, I let my kids take the reins on what cake they want. If they ask for some ideas or flavor combinations, I will provide them. My oldest always wants chocolate. Always. This year, it seems like all my kids want the chocolate/raspberry combo. Even my youngest did something similar. I won’t be sharing the cake I made for her birthday because it was a disaster. I mean, it tasted great, but the appearance was awful. It was one of those cakes that I seriously wanted to cry and throw the entire thing into the trash. But, I stepped out of the kitchen for a few minutes, then came back determined to just make it work. But, it definitely wasn’t photographable, and I didn’t have a frosting that was good enough to share.
Anyway, back to this cake. My daughter, very similar to me, is a visual type of person. She wants to see some cake photographs in front of her. I happily obliged when she offered chocolate and raspberry as a combination. My friend Annie’s blog is always a excellent source of inspiration, so off we went. Once my oldest saw the photo of this cake, she was hooked. So, I set off to write a grocery list and prepare, while she walked away humming and clearly very excited about her cake choice.
The day of her birth came, and of course the humidity level was about 957594%. I was concerned about how well the cake and chocolate were going to come out. I just did some extra refrigeration time, and it worked out beautifully! You can tell that the chocolate glaze didn’t really want to harden, but it didn’t cause any problems. To break this cake down for you, there are three layers of the best chocolate cake (it’s dairy free too!), chocolate ganache is slathered over the cake, then piped in a boarder to contain the raspberry filling, layered and stacked, the cake is then smoothed over with raspberry buttercream frosting. Because of course that isn’t enough, a chocolate glaze is then poured over the top. I decorated the top with leftover chocolate ganache swirls, fresh raspberries and pearl sprinkles. How you want to decorate, or not decorate the top, is totally up to you. When in doubt (or out of time), throw some fresh raspberries on the top and call it good. Fresh fruit is always an excellent choice because it a.) it’s beautiful and b.) who can resist fresh fruit? This cake will definitely feed a crowd, or a family of 5 for several days. This cake is rich, incredibly satisfying (yes, I even had a piece or two because I wanted to give you a fair opinion and I had to taste all my hard work!), and super chocolatey. A nice scoop of vanilla ice cream is welcome on the plate, and a small piece of cake goes a long way. Don’t be intimidated by the long directions. Just set some time aside, do it in sections, take your time and have fun with it!
Recipe for the cake and frosting adapted from Lily’s Café Cookbook, by Kyra Alex, fillings and concept adapted from Everyday Annie
For the chocolate cake
- 3 1/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 1/4 cups hot water (not boiling)
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil, or another flavorless oil
- 2 1/4 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the raspberry filling
- 8 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
- 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
For the ganache filling
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the frosting
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick), unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 3/4 cup frozen raspberries
- 3/4 plus cup heavy cream
- pink or red food coloring (optional)
For the chocolate glaze
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- To finish (optional)
- fresh raspberries, sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the hot water, oil, vinegar and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk the water mixture into the flour mixture. Whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth, about 1 minute. Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Make sure not to over bake, or else you will have a dry cake. Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then gently run a a knife around the edges and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
- To make the raspberry filling, place the thawed berries in a fine mesh sieve over a glass measuring cup. Press the juice out of the berries with a spoon or rubber spatula. Set the berries aside and add enough water to the measuring cup to equal 3/4 cup. Pour the liquid into a small saucepan. Whisk in the sugar and cornstarch and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat whisking occasionally. Continue to cook and stir until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Once thick, remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Stir in the reserved berries. Chill completely in the refrigerator.
- To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Immediately pour over the chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Then whisk the chocolate until completely smooth and melted. Whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until completely smooth. Place the chocolate in the refrigerator, whisking occasionally, until thick, about 30 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup of the ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip about 1/2-inch in diameter. Reserve another 1/2 cup of ganache in a small bowl or container for decorating the top of the cake.
- While waiting for the ganache to cool, make the frosting. Place the frozen raspberries in a small saucepan over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, break up any frozen raspberry chunks and stir often. Once the raspberries thaw and release their juices, stir constantly so they don't burn onto the bottom. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Press the berries through a fine mesh sieve over a glass measuring cup. Discard or consume the leftover berries. Pour in enough heavy cream into the measuring cup with the berry juice to measure 1 cup. Place the butter, confectioners' sugar and heavy cream/berry mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 5 minutes, or until the mixture looks like smooth, shiny butter. If the color isn't bright enough for you, mix in some red or pink food coloring. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 20 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy and creamy. (Yes, it really does take that long.)
- To assemble the cake, place one of the cooled cake layers on a cake board or serving platter. Spread half of the ganache in an even layer over the cake. Using the ganache in the pastry bag, pipe a border around the perimeter of the cake layer. This will hold in the raspberry filling. Spread about half of the raspberry filling inside the ganache border in an even layer. Top with another layer of cake and repeat this process, layering with the rest of the ganache, piped boarder and raspberry filling. Top with the remaining cake layer. If the cake is wiggly and the chocolate is soft, place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before frosting.
- Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake with the raspberry buttercream, smoothing the surface as much as possible. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Once the cake has chilled, make the chocolate glaze. Place the chocolate in a medium, heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate has melted completely. Whisk in the corn syrup and vanilla extract. Pour the glaze into a small pitcher or measuring cup and let cool for no more than 10 minutes. Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, covering the top of the cake completely and allowing small drizzles down the sides. Let the glaze set about 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, transfer the remaining reserved ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a closed star tip. Pipe swirls of ganache on the top of the cake as desired. Dot with sprinkles and fresh raspberries if desired. Chill the cake until ready to serve.