Before I get to the recipe, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day and give a special congrats to Nathalie, winner of the corn heating bag giveaway! As a thank you to all who entered (or anyone else who may be reading), I am offering 10% off of any purchase from my Etsy shop until the End of February… simply enter the code HEARTS at checkout.
Now, about the cake. I first made this 3 years ago, for a friend who celebrates her birthday right around Valentine’s Day. I’ve made it few times since, and it’s always a favorite. Here’s the part you may hate me for: this cake literally takes all day to make, it is not healthy in any way… and the ingredients may add up cost-wise (especially if you use ‘good’ chocolate, which I recommend). On the other hand, your efforts will be hugely rewarded when it comes time to eat the thing.
Let the fun begin! There are 5 components (chocolate cake, lemon filling, raspberry soaking syrup, chocolate raspberry mousse, and ganache). If you don’t want to be in the kitchen all day, you could make the chocolate cake a few days or even a week in advance, and freeze it until ready. The lemon filling can be made the night before assembling (as it requires a period of refrigeration). The raspberry soaking syrup (keeps the cake moist for longer) is a nice touch, but could be omitted.
3/4 lb (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces (Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine will also work)
1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch (if you don’t happen to have this on hand, you may omit it – it is used for creating a structure more similar to cake flour)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 C milk (you can add cream or half & half to make it more rich… almond/soy milk or non-dairy creamer may also be used)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Lightly spray insides of three 9inch cake pans. Cut 3 parchment or wax paper circles, and press one into each. These make the cake release much more easily after they’re done baking. Lightly spray on top of circles and lightly coat each pan with flour. Preheat oven to 350 F.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt. Set aside.
Place butter and sugar in Med-lg bowl. Mix on low speed 1 min, then beat until soft, about 2 min. Continue beating 2 more minutes until very soft. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each. Alternately add the dry sifted ingredients you set aside and the milk until well blended. Add vanilla extract, mix on low 5 seconds, and then beat on medium for 1 min. The batter should now look similar to soft serve ice cream.
Spread batter evenly amongst the three pans – tap them to get rid of air bubbles. Bake 25-30 min, or until toothpick in center comes out clean.
Let cool 20 minutes, and then invert cakes onto cooling rack or plates. Remove parchment or wax paper circles.
At this point, you can either set your cake aside, or wrap and freeze each layer individually.
This recipe is slightly modified from the ‘Celebrate with Chocolate’ cookbook. Rich dairy components will make for a more flavorful cake, but non-dairy work just fine (however, keep in mind that the fillings and ganache require dairy)!
The lemon filling recipe can be found by clicking HERE. This recipe will require you to use a double boiler (or be extremely vigilant with a heavy saucepan). I’m not usually a lemon filling kind of girl, but trust me when I say that this is some nice filling when it’s made right.
Some tips: A cheese grater works well for creating fresh lemon zest. I used only 1 egg and also refrained from adding the heavy whipped cream. You may be able to make this filling without a double boiler if you watch your saucepan VERY closely. Good to know: 1 big lemon will produce about 1/4 C juice.
Raspberry Soaking Syrup:
1/3 cup water
3 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tbsp Framboise (in the cordials section of a liquor store)
In small pan over medium-low heat, combine water and sugar. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Raise heat to med-high and bring syrup to a boil. Remove pan from heat and stir in Framboise. Keep covered until you assemble the cake.
This base syrup recipe as well as the following mousse recipe were modified from the Godiva Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Truffle Cake. (http://www.godiva.com)
Chocolate Raspberry Mousse:
4 bars (6 oz) Dark Chocolate, broken up into smaller pieces (I used Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bars)
3/4 C fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries
1/6 C plus 1.5 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided (1/6 is a bit odd, but just fill your 1/3 cup half way)
1.5 eggs yolks (yes, I know… a half egg yolk.. just do this to the best of your ability and it will suffice)
1/3 C heavy cream + 2/3 C heavy cream, divided
2 tbsp framboise
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grind chocolate in food processor – about 30 seconds. Leave in processor.
Combine raspberries and 1/6 C sugar in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Mash raspberries until soft and broken up. Remove from heat and press mixture through a mesh sieve and into a saucepan. Cook the puree over med-high heat until bubbling for a about 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Immediately pour raspberry mix into the food processor, on top of the chocolate.
Combine egg yolks, 1.5 Tbsp (which is 1 Tbsp + 3 tsp) sugar, and salt in small bowl. Whisk until well blended.
Scald 1/3 C heavy cream in small pan over medium heat. Whisking constantly, temper egg yolk mix with some of the hot cream. Pour tempered egg mix into pan of hot cream (this is to prevent the eggs from scrambling). Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture starts to thicken. Don’t overcook – just until it thickens noticeably. Turn on food processor and pour the hot mixture in your pan into the feed tube. Process 15-25 seconds or until chocolate is fully melted. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula – add the framboise and vanilla. Process for a couple more seconds. Place mixture into a med-lg bowl. Take the remainder of your heavy cream and place it into a bowl (a chilled bowl will make the process faster). Beat with mixer until soft peaks just begin to form (overwhipping will lead to grainy texture). Using rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the chocolate raspberry mix you have in the other bowl. Now fold in the remainder of the whipped cream. Don’t overfold, you want it to remain light and fluffy.
Assembling the Cake:
Brush the bottoms of the cake layers with the soaking syrup you have set aside. Be generous. This will keep your cake moist.
Now put as much of the chocolate raspberry mousse as you desire on top of one of the cake layers. Spread out evenly. Set another cake layer on top of the mousse. Apply as much lemon filling as you’d like onto this layer. Top with the final cake layer.
For the ganache topping, simply use equal amounts of dark chocolate and heavy cream. I used 6 oz of each. Finely grind your chocolate in a food processor and let it sit there. Microwave the heavy cream until it begins to simmer (but don’t let it boil over!). This doesn’t take long, so watch closely. Pour it on top of chocolate in the food processor. Let sit about 2 minutes. Now process briefly until thoroughly mixed and promptly drizzle over center of cake. You can use a spatula to help spread it.
I dipped fresh raspberries in white almond bark and the remainder of the ganache as decoration. The ganache hardened up nicely in the fridge to give it a ‘chocolate bar’ kind of finish.
If you read to the end of this, I am thoroughly impressed – and I swear that the next recipe I post will be more user-friendly. :)