I tried to surprise Dustin on his birthday. I planned a surprise barbecue that fell through. Turns out someone had let it slip that I was throwing him a party, so when it didn't happen he was indeed surprised (or rather disappointed). But we still celebrated. And I baked him this cake. Each tier of this moist chocolate cake is enveloped in raspberry jam and chocolate ganache with sugar-dusted raspberries perched on top. It's too bad birthdays don't come more often.
While this recipe has several steps, it's simple to make. My only advice is that you actually follow the directions (this is hard for me). If you don't let the cake cool, or freeze it between layers of frosting, it will become a slippery sliding mess. I'm not great at baking pretty cakes. I'm thrilled when they turn out somewhat attractive. But I can say, no matter how homemade my baked goods look, they usually taste dang good. And really, that's what matters.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Topping:
18 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), chopped
2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
6 Tbsp. raspberry jam, divided
2 (6-oz.) containers fresh raspberries
powdered sugar, for dusting
To make the cake:
1. Preheat to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; spray rounds. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl; whisk to blend and form well in center. Whisk 1 cup water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients; whisk just to blend. Divide cake batter between prepared pans (about 3 cups each).
2. Bake cakes in preheated oven until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool completely in pans on cooling racks.
To make the chocolate ganache:
1. Place chopped chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream just to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Pour over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until ganache is melted and smooth. Transfer 1 1/4 cups ganache to small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ganache is thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let remaining ganache stand at room temperature to cool until barely lukewarm.
To assemble the cake:
1. Carefully run knife around pan edges to release cakes. Peel off parchment paper. Place cake layer on round on prepared rack. Spread 3 tablespoons jam over top. Spoon dollops of chilled ganache over, then spread evenly. Invert second cake layer onto another cardboard round or tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Carefully slide cake off round and onto frosted cake layer on rack. Spread remaining 3 tablespoons raspberry jam over top of second cake layer. Pour half of barely lukewarm ganache over cake, spreading over sides to cover. Freeze until ganache sets, about 30 minutes.
2. Pour remaining ganache over cake, allowing to drip down sides and spreading over sides if needed for even coverage and to smooth edges. Freeze to set ganache, about 30 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before continuing.)
3. Arrange raspberries in concentric circles atop cake. Sift powdered sugar lightly over raspberries and serve.
Serves at least 10-12.
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)