Ingredients (recipes below):
Chocolate Layer Cake
Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Fresh Raspberries, for garnish
Chocolate Layer Cake
2 cups flour
½ cup regular cocoa powder
½ cup Dutch process cocoa (or Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 9” cake pans; line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Grease paper and then dust entire pan with cocoa powder.
Combine flour, cocoa powders, baking soda and salt. Mix with a whisk. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars for 5 minutes. The mixture should be very pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until smooth.
Divide batter into prepared pans and bake for 28-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, remove parchment paper and cool.
Cooled cake layers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen until you are ready to assemble them. (For this cake, if you are freezing the layers: cut each layer in half before freezing to make 4 layers).
Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing
1 ½ cups egg whites (about 12 large egg whites, or use pasteurized egg whites that come in a carton)
2 ½ cups sugar
pinch of salt
3 cups unsalted butter (6 sticks), at room temperature**
1 Tbs vanilla extract
about 1 ½ cups Raspberry filling (see recipe below) or 1 cup raspberry jam
In the top of a double boiler, stir together egg whites, sugar and salt. Bring water in bottom of double boiler to a low simmer; cook until the temperature of the egg whites reaches 160°F and sugar is completely dissolved (rub mixture between fingertips-it should not feel gritty). Mixture will be foamy and not a uniform consistency.
Transfer the egg white mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip until meringue is completely cooled and glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. DO NOT ADD BUTTER UNTIL BOTH THE BOWL AND FROSTING ARE COMPLETELY COOL. Switch mixer attachment from the whisk to paddles. Add butter 1-2 Tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Mixture may appear curdled at times. Continue beating until butter is fully incorporated and frosting is fluffy and smooth. This will take about 10 minutes. Add vanilla and beat smooth. Add cooled raspberry filling and beat until frosting is a uniform color (start with about 1 cup filling, beat, and then add more if you want a more pronounced raspberry flavor).
**BUTTER NOTE: butter should be room temperature soft, but not at the point of melting. If the butter is too cold, it will not incorporate well into the meringue, and you will have butter chunks. If the butter is over-soft, it will cause the icing to curdle while beating-this is okay, it isn’t ruined: it will just take longer (more beating) for the frosting to become smooth. If icing still won’t set, place in the fridge for 20 minutes, and then beat again.
12 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen (about 2 1/2 cups of not crushed fresh berries)
½ cup sugar
½ Tbs lemon juice
½ cup water
2-3 Tbs cornstarch or ClearJel
¼ cup cold water
In a heavy saucepan, combine raspberries, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, crushing berries slightly with the back of a spoon. Strain the berries through a fine sieve, pushing the pulp through the sieve with the back of a spoon. Gradually stir ½ cup water into the seeds in the sieve (over the bowl) and press again to remove as much pulp as possible. Return seedless puree to the saucepan (rinse saucepan first if there are seeds clinging to the sides). Mix the cornstarch and ¼ cup water in a small bowl; stir into puree in the saucepan. Return mixture to a boil; lower heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until slightly thickened and no longer cloudy. Cool completely (or chill) before using.
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 heaping cup)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup corn syrup
Place the chopped chocolate into a small bowl and set aside. In a Pyrex measuring cup or microwavable bowl, combine the heavy cream and corn syrup. Heat for 1 minute; stir. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for one minutes, then stir until smooth with a whisk.
Completely cool cake layers. Cut each layer in half to make 4 layers. Prepare frosting and ganache.
Place waxed paper strips along edges of serving plate. Place one cake layer, cut side up, on the serving plate. Waxed paper strips should cover the exposed part of the plate, but not be too far under the cake layer. Spread a very thin layer of warm ganache (about 2-3 Tbs) over cake (it will begin to soak into the cake). Spread cake with a layer of raspberry icing. Repeat with remaining 3 cake layers (I only put ganache between the 2 cut layers of cake). Ice entire cake with a thin crumb coat of icing. Refrigerate cake for 2o minutes to set slightly (optional). Create a smooth finish with remaining icing over entire cake (top of cake should be completely flat).
Set aside about 3/4 cup of the ganache. Drizzle top of cake with the remaining ganache, letting it drip down the sides. Refrigerate cake.
When ganache on cake has set and the remaining ganache has set to a piping consistency (place in the refrigerator to thicken faster), spoon remaining ganache in a pastry bag fit with a large star tip (I used Wilton 1M). Pipe stars around the edge of cake. Top each star with a fresh raspberry. Serve cake at room temperature.
Storage: Cake can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature. The fresh raspberries will not keep at room temperature very long, but the cake tastes best when served at room temperature (when chilled, the icing will become very firm). When I am making this cake ahead of time, I store it in the refrigerator, and remove it to room temperature about 3 hours before serving.
(Inspired by Annie’s Eats)