When my friend Jimi started talking about having a Birthday/Super Bowl party I immediately volunteered to make his cake. He was a good sport about having a Valentine’s Day themed cake and he (and everyone else!) seemed thrilled with the result- even if the pretty cake was a bit out of place with all of the chips, guacamole, and buffalo wings people were eating during the game.
Perfect for a birthday or to end your Valentine’s Day dinner, this chocolate raspberry cake highlights the classic combination of chocolate and fresh raspberries. Fluffy raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream is layered between rich chocolate cake with smooth chocolate frosting covering the outside of the cake. I dipped some fresh raspberries in melted bittersweet chocolate for the top of the cake and used the remaining melted chocolate to draw some hearts and the word ‘love’ to decorate the outside of the cake.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans and dust with cocoa powder.
In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, espresso powder, and boiling water. Whisk until smooth then allow to cool slightly. Once cooler, whisk in the sour cream and vanilla then set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt then whisk to combine.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Blend in the eggs one at a time. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the sour cream mixture, beating each addition just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.
Bake the cake layers for 30-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the baked cake layers to a wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool completely.
Combine the sugar and egg whites in a heatproof bowl over (but not touching) a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixtures reaches 160 degrees and the sugar has completely dissolved. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture has cooled and has stiff peaks, about 8 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. If the mixture curdles or looks soupy increase the speed to medium-high and beat until it is thick and smooth again (3-5 minutes, or longer... it will come together!) Stir in the raspberry puree, then fold in the sliced raspberries. Set aside.
Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove the bowl from the pot and allow to cool to room temperature. In a small bowl or cup, whisk the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth, set aside. Use an electric mixer to combine the butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the melted and cooled chocolate, mix until incorporated. Add the cocoa powder and water mixture and stir until smooth.
Place one of the cake layers on a serving platter or turntable. Spread half of the raspberry filling evenly over the cake. Top with the next layer of cake and spread the remaining raspberry filling on top. Add the final layer of cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake with chocolate frosting.
Garnish with fresh and/or chocolate covered raspberries. If desired, make chocolate hearts by melting chocolate and piping the melted chocolate into hearts on waxed paper. Allow to cool then press gently into the cake.
A former member of CROPP’s Sustainability Department, Annie has relocated to Indiana but remains a CROPPie at heart. Annie has a M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and continues to work in the field of environmental sustainability. When she and her yellow lab Boomer aren't outside exploring local hiking trails, Annie can usually be found in the kitchen. While she cooks for subsistence, Annie’s real passion lies in creating indulgent baked goods for friends and family.