Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

I love birthdays! There's something so special about celebrating the people you love from year to year. And because I love birthdays so much, the fact that they're traditionally celebrated with the same old boring vanilla and chocolate cakes has always stumped me. When you're celebrating someone special (like my little, newly-16-year-old brother!), it calls for pulling out all the stops! And this year, pulling out all the stops turned into a homemade Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting. 
Although I didn't have time to make the actual cake from scratch (thank goodness for Duncan Hines' Devil's Food cake mix), I followed Smitten Kitchen/Picky Cook's recipe for the homemade ganache and raspberry filling and I am SO glad I did! I baked the two cake rounds ahead of time, wrapped them up in plastic wrap and popped them in the fridge to seal in their moisture. The moist texture and dense chocolate flavor of the cake provided a perfect canvas for painting the tart raspberry filling in between each layer. Smothered in chocolate ganache frosting, the cake became even more decadent! I'm not usually a very big fan of cake frostings, as they can be gritty and overly-sweet, but this cream-based ganache was light, smooth and truly was the "icing on the cake!"
The cake was a hit amongst friends and family and most importantly, was well-received by the birthday boy! If you're looking for something special for your loved ones' next birthday celebration, this cake is it! 
Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

For cake layers:
1 box of Duncan Hines Devil's Food cake mix OR,
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee (or espresso)
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
For ganache frosting:
1/2 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Make cake layers: 
Preheat oven to 300 F and butter pans. Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Butter again and dust both pans with cocoa powder. Tap and swirl around the cocoa to lightly coat the pans.
Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.
Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove parchment paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.
Ganache frosting:
Finely chop chocolate. In a small saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.
Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable. 
Raspberry Filling:
2 10-ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup sugar - i was a bit on the shy side when i measure it
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Puree the raspberries in a food processor. Press the puree through a fine-mesh strainer with the back of a spoon, removing the seeds. Heat the puree in a small pot with the sugar and cornstarch until mixture boils, stirring constantly. As it boils, it should quickly thicken. Stir in lemon zest at the end.
Let it cool complete before spreading it thinly over three layers. 
To Assemble:
With a long serrated knife (I used my Wilton cake leveler), slice each cake into two layers. Lay the bottom layer on cake stand. Take 1/3 the raspberry filling and spread it over the layer. Stay about 1/2 inch away from the edge to avoid the filling seeping onto the outside of the cake. Lay the next layer on top. Spread another 1/3 of the raspberry filling. Place the third layer on cake and the last of the raspberry filling. Put the final layer on the top of the cake. Gently make sure that all the layers line up. 
Pour some of the ganache in the middle of the top layer and with an offset spatula start smoothing out the frosting - gently pushing it toward the edge. Add more until you have worked the ganache down over the sides of the cake.
I decorated the top with fresh raspberries and red piped icing! Enjoy!


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