Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Layer Cake

First I’d like to start this post with a huge WOOHOO to the Super Bowl XLVI Champs, the NY Giants! Way to go, Big Blue!

February is definitely a chocolatey month, so when I was assigned the blog The Pajama Chef by The Secret Recipe Club for February, my cursor went straight to CHOCOLATE in Sarah’s cloud of categories.  Don’t get me wrong, Sarah’s blog is filled with loads of fantastic recipes of all sorts (Dying to try these!), but chocolate has been occupying 99.8% of my brain the past few weeks, so I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I chose something chocolate.

Fudgy and Moist 4-Layer Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe, and the Most Amazing Fresh Raspberry Buttercream. No Food Color - All Natural.Notice the one broken heart? Everyone needs to be represented on Valentines Day.

I had this whimsical, rustic Valentine cake in mind already, but I didn’t think I would get so lucky and find this great dark chocolate cake recipe from Martha Stewart which Sarah calls ‘Chocolate Cake that Changes Everything’. I think I have to agree. It’s so deep, dark, moist and super chocolatey, it’ll blow your socks off if you’re a deep, dark chocolate lover. Sarah made hers in a 13 x 9 -inch pan, but I decided to make it as Martha’s original recipe reads; in two 8-inch cake pans. I had serious plans for this chocolate cake.

I ended up doubling the recipe and baking four separate 8-inch layers because after the first two were baked, I felt they were a little too thin to be torted (sliced in half horizontally to make two layers), plus, I had a ton of homemade fresh, raspberry buttercream and chocolate ganache to use. I sliced about 1/2-inch off the tops, then spread each layer with milk chocolate ganache and a smashed assortment of red, pink and white Jordan Almonds. I love candy coated nuts, so much so that I practically subsisted on Boston baked beans for a period in my early 20’s.

Fudgy and Moist 4-Layer Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe, and the Most Amazing Fresh Raspberry Buttercream. No Food Color - All Natural.

Oh Nuts, my favorite place for all things nuts, fruits, candy etc, sent me my choice of 1 lb of Jordan Almonds to play around with – and play I did. I chose a Valentine mix, and after smashing  some of the Jordan Almonds to smithereens, I stirred them into the ganache while it was still liquid. This way, you get bits of almonds and candy shell with each bite. Oh, but I’m not done yet. The ganache was then topped with the aforementioned deep pink, fresh raspberry buttercream, and let me just say; I LOVE this buttercream!

Fudgy and Moist 4-Layer Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe, and the Most Amazing Fresh Raspberry Buttercream. No Food Color - All Natural.

I try to avoid food color at all costs, so for this luscious buttercream, a fresh raspberry reduction made that possible. Look at that deep, hot pink hue! I was originally going to make Swiss or Italian meringue based buttercreams for the filling and frosting, but with this decadent, deep chocolate cake and all the tempered chocolate hearts I painted, plus the chocolate shards and ganache, I felt the cake would be far too rich. So, I made a confectioner’s based buttercream reducing the powdered sugar in both the raspberry filling and the super, silky dark chocolate frosting – another recipe courtesy of Martha dearest.

Fudgy and Moist 4-Layer Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe, and the Most Amazing Fresh Raspberry Buttercream. No Food Color - All Natural.In order for the chocolate hearts to stick, you need a textured frosting. The sloppier, the better, although I ran out of frosting right here, above, so there wasn’t enough to really push them in to adhere. Please excuse the ugly cake board.  I forgot to remove it before frosting the cake.

Fudgy and Moist 4-Layer Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe, and the Most Amazing Fresh Raspberry Buttercream. No Food Color - All Natural.

Of course I ran head first into a few disasters, both of them with my tempered chocolate decor. The transfer sheets I used for the hearts did not adhere properly to the chocolate; the red color was completely washed out aka poorly made transfer sheets.  I ended up painting about 20 chocolate hearts with tinted cocoa butters and melted milk and white chocolate. Disaster #2; The cake was supposed to be topped with long, thin chocolate curls and loops. I wrapped chocolate coated and tined (scraped with a fork to create thin divides to break them apart) acetate around a rolling pin, and used two bowls to support the rolling pin while the chocolate set.

Quick digression – HERE is  a quick tutorial that shows you how to use chocolate transfer sheets and cut shapes from them. But, before you do that, it’s best to temper the chocolate.

Just my luck, when the chocolate was set, I accidentally knocked over the rolling pin..smack against the table. Those shards on top of the cake are the remains of my beautiful curls and loops . So, a cake that was supposed to be eclectic and whimsical is now ‘rustic’. In the end, taste and texture is what matters most, and it certainly delivers on both.

Fudgy and Moist 4-Layer Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe, and the Most Amazing Fresh Raspberry Buttercream. No Food Color - All Natural.

Finally, you don’t have to make this behemoth of a cake; you can make a normal cake using two layers.  Normally, for a 4-layer cake, I just split two layers in half horizontally to make 4 layers, but I was feeling behemoth, so I built a tower with 4 whole layers.  The layers weren’t too high, so it made complete sense at the time.  Thankfully there were enough people willing to attack it, regardless of the massive, wobbly tower slices doled out to them.

Now for the linky’s. The first one is for this month’s Secret Recipe Club. Click the blue froggy to see a gallery of amazing dishes from all of our blog assignments!

This month also happens to be #chocolatelove in the lovebloghop. I’m a member of. Link up any chocolate recipe from the month of February 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post so that your readers know to stop by the #chocolatelove event! The twitter hashtag is #chocolatelove. Click below to see a ton of beautiful and decadent chocolate creations!

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Fudgy and Moist 4-Layer Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe, and the Most Amazing Fresh Raspberry Buttercream. No Food Color - All Natural.I forgot to trim the top layer, so the heavy, moist cake with all that chocolate on top squished down the other layers. Did it matter when we ate it? Uh..NO.

4-Layer Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Layer Cake

4-Layer Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Layer Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 8 to 12 servings
 
Chilling time for Chocolate frosting and ganache: 1 to 2 hours
Cake and frosting adapted from Martha Stewart
Fresh Raspberry Buttercream adapted from Making Life Delicious

The best part about the dark chocolate cake is that it can be made in one bowl!
ingredients:
Dark Chocolate Cake *
  • 1½ cups unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder, plus more for pans
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1½ cups warm water
  • 6 tablespoons safflower oil or any neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Framboise for brushing cake layers (optional)
Almond Scented Milk Chocolate Ganache **
  • 9 ounces good quality, chopped milk chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon Amaretto (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped, toasted almonds (optional)
Creamy Dark Chocolate Frosting
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 2¼ cups (4½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ pounds best-quality semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Fresh Raspberry Buttercream
  • 24 ounces fresh raspberries
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • big pinch of kosher salt
  • 3½ to 4½ cups powdered sugar
directions:
QUICK NOTE
  1. Make the dark chocolate frosting and chocolate ganache before you make the cake, so they have enough time to reach a spreadable consistency in the fridge by the time you're ready to assemble the cake.
Make the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 8-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep); and dust with cocoa. Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  2. Divide batter between the four pans. Place two on the middle rack and two on the rack below, unless your oven is deep enough to hold 4 cake pans on one rack. If on one rack, switch pans from back to front and front to back half way through baking. On different racks, switch pans from top to bottom rack and bottom to top rack half way through baking.
  3. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Turn out from pans. Transfer, top up, to wire racks. Let cool completely.
  4. When cakes are cooled, cut about ½ inch off the tops of all four layers of cake. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and chill until ready to assemble cake.
Make the Almond Milk Chocolate Ganache
  1. Place the chopped milk chocolate in a medium-sized bowl. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream just to a boil (once you see a bubble orv two, take it off the heat), then pour over chopped chocolate and let it sit for about 2 minute as is, no stirring. Once it's sat for 2 minutes, stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is uniform. Stir in almond extract. Stir in Amaretto and chopped, toasted almonds, if using either or both. Cover and place in the fridge for several hours or until it's of a spreadable consistency, 1 to 2 hours at least.
Make the Dark Chocolate Frosting
  1. Combine the cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until the cocoa has dissolved (dissolved meaning there is no more powder, like you would packets of instant hot chocolate). With an electric mixer , starting on low speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until combined, then, on medium-high speed, beat until pale and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low then add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa - water mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it's of a spreadable consistency, at least 1 hour.
Make the Fresh Raspberry Buttercream
  1. In a medium to large saucepan, cook down the raspberries until they've broken down and released their juices..they will be floating in their own liquid - super saucy. If you use frozen, this will take a little longer. Strain cooked down raspberries in a fine meshed sieve into a bowl, pressing down on them to get every bit of liquid out. You should have about 1 cup raspberry juice. Place this back in a clean saucepan, and cook down until reduced to ½ cup. It should be thick - like chocolate syrup, and will be dark blood red. Set aside until completely cool (I put it in the fridge).
  2. In a bowl, beat the two sticks of butter until creamy. Add in 2 cups of powdered sugar, the reduced raspberry juice, the lemon juice and huge pinch of kosher salt. Beat until creamy and uniform in color. Continue adding powdered sugar until you get a nice, thick, but still creamy consistency. I used a little less than 3½ cups. If you end up adding too much, drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of milk or cream until you reach the desired consistency. Set aside covered, at room temperature, until ready to assemble the cake.
Assemble the Cake
  1. Place one layer, cut side up, on a cake plate or board (I glue down the first layer of all cakes with a dab of buttercream so it stays put). If using Framboise, brush top of layer with it lightly. Spread about ½ cup of thickened ganache within ⅛-inch of the edge. Top with about 1 to 1½ cups of the raspberry buttercream and spread to within ½-inch of the edge of the cake. Top with next layer and press down. Repeat above. Do the same with one more layer, then top with last layer, pressing down.
  2. If you're adding any chocolate decorations, like my hearts, frost the cake sloppily, meaning thick with swirls or lines, so the hearts can stick - do not smooth it out. If not adding decor, frost any which way you please.How to Make Chocolate Transfer Sheet Cut-Outs, like my Hearts. You can find chocolate transfer sheets at some craft stores or candy making supply businesses, You can also do a search online and find loads of places to order them from.
notes:
*Of course you don't have to make the giant 4-layer behemoth of a cake I made. Make a two-layer cake using the original recipe HERE. You can tort (split) the layers in half for a shorter 4-layer cake, if desired.
** You can leave out the milk chocolate ganache and just make it a chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream filling. Either option is wonderful.
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97 Responses to Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cream Layer Cake

  1. Dan says:

    What a gorgeous cake you really outdid yourself it goes with your story. I like the broken heart reference since we all have experienced that one time too often. Back to the cake the photos really make you feel you can taste it through the computer. Don’t spill any lemonade on it 🙂

  2. Lisa~~ says:

    You never fail to impress. How about wrapping up a slice and sending it south? Love your story too.

  3. Megan says:

    Beautiful, beautiful cake! And I will definitely be back for part 4.

  4. Well, you’ve captured the “falling in love” feeling perfectly… as did your cake.. I’ve fallen in love with its chocolaty, broken heart lusciousness. Definitely one to make when craving chocolate!!

  5. Stephanie says:

    What a work of art!

  6. Liz says:

    What an amazing, double duty, chocolate wonder!!! My family wishes I would make more chocolate layer cakes so I’m hiding the screen from their eye!!! And I’m loving part 3…you’ve reeled me in!!!

  7. This is gorgeous! You obviously put a lot of work into it and I’m pretty impressed. That’s a whooooole lotta chocolate!

  8. Nothing that some chocolate cannot fix, and I am absolutely craving some of this deliciousness right now! This is seriously yum Lisa!

  9. You are a great story teller! And I can’t believe there are two more parts to come… how exciting! Can’t wait! And how gorgeous is this cake?! Love the red frosting… It looks totally amazing! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. Mary says:

    I’m really enjoying this story! That is one seriously gorgeous cake–love the broken heart. Love the raspberry buttercream–the colour is gorgeous.
    🙂

  11. That chocolate cake is to die for!

  12. Terra says:

    OH MY HEAVENS!!!! That is one serious chocolate loving cake, and that buttercream….well let’s just say I am drooling! It really does look beautiful! Hugs, Terra

  13. sara says:

    Gorgeous! That is one impressive cake, wow! Looks super delicious. 🙂

  14. Katie says:

    Oh.my.goodness! I am always so impressed with your work! Your cake look fantastic! I love the little decorations you put on top,too, what a creative idea!!
    Can’t wait to try it… YUM! I’m so happy I found your blog!
    thanks for sharing the great recipe.

  15. Splendid! This cake looks amazing. I really love that gorgeously pink buttercream.Mindblowing!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  16. What a way to cool off a hot moment with some cold lemonade. However you chocolate cake looks stunning. I like the rustic look.

  17. Baker Street says:

    Perfect perfect chocolate fix! Love the colors and LOVE how you’ve presented it. Divine.

  18. Absolutely magnificent cake!

  19. Winnie says:

    Absolutely gorgeous cake!
    Beautiful and very impressive

  20. Lucien says:

    I stumbled upon my way here, Love the cake, and u havee a natural gift for writing.

  21. junglefrog says:

    Now I love that cake, naturally… It has chocolate and it has heart and lots of love. I can tell by looking at it. And that story… that is such a great great story and just brings back memories of times long ago! O maybe I should share the story of how Tom and I fell in love..lol… Anyway, can’t wait for the next part!

    • Lisa says:

      Oh, it’s so fun to go back to those moments. I would love to read about how you and Tom met and what transpired to bring you into such a loving, wonderful marriage! Seriously! Mine is just a first love, for now 😉

  22. sandie says:

    Beautiful cake Lis! I love the sound of everything, though I would have totally done with the meringue buttercream; I don’t like the raw sugar harshness of confectioners sugar, except maybe in cream cheese frosting. Your heart decorations are lovely. Did you guys eat the whole thing??

  23. angie says:

    sounds oh so good and would be perfect treat for valentines day
    come see what I shared at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

  24. Valerie says:

    Lisa, I am so engrossed in your story, I can’t wait for the rest!

    And that cake… what can I say, it’s a beauty! Chocolate and raspberry never fail to make me swoon, and it just looks so gorgeous!

  25. The cake looks great but that Fresh Raspberry Buttercream…AWESOME! OK part four I am thinking cops will show up for disappearing again.

  26. Jamie says:

    PART 4? Are you kidding me? Argh! But the cake is so worth it and now I want to make a 4-layer cake! Fabulous! And hearts? I love it… now I have one more V Day treat on my list! And I love Jordon Almonds but now they kind of remind me of Bridesmaids 🙂

  27. Sarah says:

    glad you liked my cake! i’m actually making it as cupcakes this weekend. can’t wait! 🙂

  28. Holy moly this cake looks amazing!!! Seriously, each layer and element is just incredible. And you have me on the edge of my seat for the next installment of your story!! I just love it 😀

  29. Lora says:

    OMG This cake is amazing. So unusual and beautiful. I love the color you were able to get with the fresh raspberries. The lemonade incident was hilarious. So awkward teenage cute. Waiting for part 4…..

  30. All I can is that it is a really good thing there is a solid screen standing (sitting??) between me and that cake – otherwise I’d be all over it, just like a certain young man in a certain story…..

  31. marcellina says:

    Delicious cake! The colours are amazing! So rich and yummy!

  32. Priscilla says:

    Wow -.that is a fabulous cake, I love the rustic look! You truly have a gift for story telling, too 🙂

  33. HOLY AMAZEBALLS…you were totally not kidding. This cake is so over the top….I want a slice. Oh heck, give me half….if there’s anything left. 🙂 Amazing.

  34. Wowee! You’ve really knocked it out the park on this one…it’s a showstopper! Love the chocolate hearts, bright pinky/red filling and all those layers. Would LOVE a slice of this right now 🙂

  35. Carolyn says:

    That, my friend, is one stunning cake! WOW! I am going to pin that puppy.

  36. Suzanne says:

    Wow that is a fabulous cake, so decadent and chocolaty. You always do a such a mouth watering recipe 🙂

    • Suzanne says:

      So I just got done reading part 2 and 3 you are quite the storyteller girl, maybe you should write love stories 🙂 Fun little series you got going here. I remember my first love too pretty fun and funny at the same time.

  37. Wowzers…that photo of the layers and the pretty pink cream just beckoning me to eat the whole thing. Gorgeous! I love the pretty hearts on the side. Perfect for Valentine’s and so are your Bad Boy stories. Waiting patiently for the next installment:) xx

  38. Johnny says:

    This cake is SO hot! I really like those painted hearts, very artistic!

  39. Wendy says:

    This cake is beautiful, the painted hearts very artisan. I can’t believe there’s no food color in that gorgeous pink buttercream! I have to try it!

  40. What an amazing cake and a thoroughly engrossing story Lisa! And I can imagine you floated and danced all the way up the stairs like in the clip! 😀

  41. samology says:

    that is super WOW! That cake is such a gem! Even better than a lot of the ones sold in bakeries!!! I’m seriously sooooo impressed!!! Great job!!! Looooove the pink frosting in between your layers too!! <3 and Happy Valentine's Day!

  42. Samsha says:

    All I can say is WOW. What a great cake my girlfriend would be very impressed with me if i could make that.

  43. Lovely cake, really. But this bad boy stuff? Were you watching me when I was 17 or something? 🙂 Love it!

  44. Juliana says:

    Lisa, your chocolate cake looks divine, so pretty with the layers. Love reading your story…looking forward for part 4 🙂

  45. bakingaddict says:

    Awesome cake and great story too! Love the tall cake with the chocolate hearts. I would not have guessed that this is not how you intended it to be as it looks perfect 🙂

  46. Jenni says:

    Holy crap this cake is amazing!!!!

    P.S. You are so grounded, staying out so late! 🙂

  47. Looks and sounds AMAZING

  48. this does look very rustic and not to mention, deleeeescious.

  49. The contrasting red and chocolate colors are gorgeous. Such an impressive cake.

  50. myfudo says:

    I enjoyed reading your post…
    I don’t think I can ever find a recipe more perfect for Valentine’s Day!

  51. teaandscones says:

    Fantastic Cake!

  52. Amrita says:

    I don’t think I can do much at this point except gape open-mouthed at your cake and slobber all over my keyboard! Chocolate and raspberry’s always been a classic combination and your cake looks gorgeous!

  53. Katrina says:

    That is some serious cake!

  54. Sophie says:

    What a stunning, divine looking & truly absolutely fabulously looking cake!

    Festive too! And huge too! 🙂 I sue want to dig in, right away! 🙂

  55. the cake looks so gorgeous! and i bet it tastes so delicious!

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  57. O.M.G. This cake, this cake, what can I say? It looks amazing!! Oh my YUM!!!

  58. Delishhh says:

    WOW – that is one of a kind of a cake – just fabulous! Happy V-day!

  59. Alissa says:

    You are an amazing story teller – I’m engrossed! The cake is gorgeous, but I can’t wait until part 4!

  60. OMG WOW this is an amazing posting I LOVE LOVE LOVE the awesome cake you made the colour of the cake layers and the filling are stunning it looks so perfect and tasty (I will have to make a version soon for a party). Gorgeous pixs as well as always. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  61. chocolate is on my mind 99.9% of the time, not just this month 🙂
    great recipe Lisa! I would have probably picked a decadent chocolate cake as well. Love those jelly beans on top!

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  65. Ginny says:

    HELP–Can you use frozen raspberries??

    • Lisa says:

      Yes, you most certainly can! You just may need to reduce it a little longer, unless they are already defrosted, but drain as much of the liquid out as you can before reducing (boiling down to a syrup). Also, most of the time frozen fruit contains added sugar, so you may want to keep that in mind when adding the sugar to the berries to reduce, and the powdered sugar to the buutercream. Taste both as you go along.

  66. whatnext says:

    Lisa, how do you make the chocolate hearts? Do you use a form? I want to make this cake this weekend for a belated Valentine tea party. Thanks.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi there! It’s very simple. You can either just melt chocolate or temper the melted chocolate (which I did), then spread a thin layer of the chocolate on a chocolate transfer sheet with a design you like (I think you can get them at Michael’s). I ordered mine online..just type into a search engine “chocolate transfer sheets”.
      ——————————–
      Let the chocolate set, then press ‘heated’ heart cutters into the set sheet of chocolate so the hearts don’t crack (just run a match or lighter around the edge of the cookie cutter before cutting out each heart) and peel the hearts, carefully, off of the transfer sheets. That said, my transfer sheet must have been damaged, since the design did not transfer well onto the chocolate hearts, SO – i melted white chocolate, divided it into several bowls..leaving one white and coloring the others with pink, red etc. then mixing a few drop of melted cocoa butter into each bowl and splatter painting the hearts. It was a last minute ‘save’, but the cake was now ‘rustic’ LOL Let me know how it turns out for you!!

      • whatnext says:

        OK, just started on the cake and ganache this evening. The rest will be tomorrow.
        1. how do you get color swirls in your chocolate hearts?
        2. ever use wax or parchment paper or a substitute in place of chocolate transfer paper?

      • Lisa says:

        Yes…you can use parchment paper. Melt and color some white chocolate (a variety of colors of your choice)…then splatter or swirl the colored white chocolate onto the parchment (as flat as possible..like a painting – press down lumps or bumps) and let it set in the fridge a few minutes. Pour the melted dark chocolate on top of the set colors of white chocolate..let that set, then cut out your hearts with the heated cutter for each heart so none of them crack. Chill or freeze the hearts until you’re ready to put them on the cake 🙂

  67. whatnext says:

    ok, very cre-a-tive! Will try after another hike to store for white chocolate. Thanks!

  68. whatnext says:

    if only I’d read your instructions I’d have the white chocolate already!!!!:-)

  69. Carole says:

    Lisa, thanks for joining the cake extravaganza – I am simply blown away by all the fantastic cakes – and extremely hungry! Cheers

  70. Looks delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

  71. Rachel says:

    I am making this for my husband’s birthday and he decided he didn’t want the ganache on top. Will not having it make the cake soggy? I just noticed you put it in between the layers too.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi, Rachel! No need at all for the almond chocolate ganache underneath the frosting – the cake will not dry out without it. However, if you leave the cake unfrosted, like the photo of just the layers and frosting, be sure to keep it covered when you’re not slicing and serving it so the outside, as well as the cake on the inside, doesn’t dry out. Wishing your husband a very Happy Birthday! 🙂

  72. johanna says:

    hi lisa 🙂

    i was looking for a yummy chocolate fruity cake to make for a friend’s birthday soon and i was looking through your amazing recipes–i think i’d like to do this one!
    not being a good/experienced baker, i hope it comes out ok 😛

    anyway, i wanted to ask you about the candied almonds–do you think finely chopped dried raspberries or dried cherries or dried strawberries (very yummy although slightly different flavor) and roughly cut plain roasted almonds would work for the crunch factor with every bite that you discussed? (i’m just not into the artificial candy thing 🙁 )
    (actually the dried raspberries would be crunchy, but the cherries and strawberries could be a little chewy, hence the finely chopped idea…)

    do you think this could ruin the whole chocolatey, cakey, gooey thing or could it be ok..?

  73. Lisa says:

    Hi, johanna, how are you? It’s so good to see you here again! Absolutely a yes to the dried cherries or raspberries with chopped roasted almonds in lieu of the Jordan Almonds! In fact, you could use any kind of nuts and even rehydrate the fruit before adding. It won’t affect the cake at all. So many endless possibilitiesb to play around with! Run with it, my dear xoxo

  74. johanna says:

    oh great! thanks! 🙂
    i’ll give it my best shot and hope i can make this even half as nice as yours looks!
    i just love your recipes and photos-i think they are my fave on the internet !
    your written/talk-me-through-it instructions are great on all your posts–thanks so much for that!
    hope you are fulfilling your present dreams-
    jg
    by the way, a small tip for truly AMAZING dried fruits and nuts-almonds! , without added sugar: my aunt told me- Bella Viva Orchards http://www.bellaviva.com. they have deals too, for cheaper pricing. i think the plump, chewy dried white peaches/nectarines and the dried pears are the best thing i have ever had–i know it’s hard to believe dried fruit could be that good–but believe me!!!!! (i don’t work for them–just love their stuff)

    • Lisa says:

      Johanna, you are the sweetest ever. I can’t even begin to tell you how much your comment made my day. xoxo That said, thanks so much for the link because I eat dried fruit like it’s going out of style! Now I’m dying to try the nectarines and white peaches! They look amazing! By the way, Bad Boy First Love part 22 is now so long, it could probably be a book on its own. Geesh! I’m planning on getting it up ASAP. I just need to try and bake or cook something since this is a food blog lol.

      • johanna says:

        oooh, that will be great–i can’t wait for your recipe AND the story! how exciting-
        no rush, but i’m looking forward! :)))

        [by the way, if you do order fruit, there are a few kinds on that site; look for the photos of the really plump-style ones–they are much better than the more dried-looking ones–which are good too, just not as dreamy and tasteful, in my opinion..]

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  76. Tabatha says:

    This cake looks amazing, so I tried making it for my husband’s birthday.

    Not quite a disaster, but the lack of detail/logic in the directions made the whole process much more stressful than any other cake I’ve ever baked (quite a few). I’ve never left feedback on a blog-provided recipe before, but my experience has been so frustrating that I *had* to say something.

    There are several times when the directions are exceedingly vague:
    “1½ pounds best-quality semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled” — Cooled for how long? To what consistency?
    “Boil the cream on the stove until it’s bubbling.” — Approximately how long should this take and over what heat?
    “Combine the cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until the cocoa has dissolved.” What consistency are we looking for here?
    Does the chocolate frosting need to be refrigerated/chilled while doing the next steps?
    Also, the steps are not in a logical order. Multiple times chocolate has to be melted then cooled. While not do this at the beginning so the chocolates can cool while completing other steps. As is, the steps are not at all time-efficient.

    When one comes to the assembly, I would suggest adding a buttercream buffer ring, to hold in the chocolate ganache. My first layer did not have a buffer and the ganache ran over the edges, even with leaving “1/8 of the edge”. I had to put the whole thing in the freezer before adding any more tiers.

    Overall the flavors are great, but the recipe leaves much to be desired.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi, Tabatha..I’m so sorry you had some trouble due to my not being as specific as I should have with certain parts of the recipe, and I appreciate your feedback tremendously. That said, I made some changes to the recipe instructions to make sure no one gets confused; but here are my answers to your questions in the order you listed them;
      ——
      1) In all frosting recipes, ‘chocolate, melted and cooled’ means once it’s completely melted, you let it cool to room temperature so it does not melt the butter you beat it into. It should remain melted at room temperature long enough to make your buttercream, depending on what temperature it is exposed to at any given time. The consistency should be somewhat pourable, but it’s okay if it’s thickened, since you can help it along with a rubber spatula.
      ———-
      2) I changed “Boil the cream on the stove until it’s bubbling” to “Over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a boil”. Like water, once it starts bubbling non-stop, it’s boiling. An exact time according to yahoo, would be 8 to 10 minutes, but with such a small amount of cream, I would say about 5 minutes on high heat..7 minutes on medium high heat.
      ———–
      3) Powdered cocoa is dissolved in hot water when you no longer see any powder and the color is uniform, just like those instant hot chocolate packets we grew up with. The consistency will be like hot chocolate..chocolate water basically.
      ————
      4) I added that the frosting needs to be refrigerated to a spreadable consistency, at leas 1 hour. That one is Martha Stewart’s fault, though (lol), in that is how the instructions for her dark chocolate frosting read, albeit with my rewording, although I should have specified after making it that it runs a little thin and needed some refrigeration before frosting the cake.
      ——
      5) I added a quick note at the top of the instructions to make the dark chocolate buttercream and chocolate ganache first as to allow them time to reach a spreadable consistency before you assemble the cake.
      —-
      6) The ganache actually does not need a buffer since it’s supposed to be of a spreadable consistency so it’s thick and won’t run over and out. I added that to the recipe to.

      So, with all of the above, I hope you’ll make it again, but have a much easier time in the process! 🙂

      • Tabatha says:

        Lisa, thank you for taking the time to respond, and so thoroughly!
        As Jana points out, most of the things I quibbled with would be understood/taken for granted by avid bakers; but I have a rule that when trying a new recipe for the first time I always do my best to follow the steps to the letter. In this instance, that was sometimes difficult for reasons previously mentioned, but I think the changes you made will greatly aide anyone else who gives it a go.

        I am fairly certain that I will try it again; the raspberry buttercream is *to die* for!

        Oh, and quick question regarding the ganache: what milk chocolate did you use? What percentage cocoa was it? I used a Ghiradelli milk chocolate bar (not sure of %), and even after 5 hours of chilling, it was still rather soft (like the same consistency of mixing equals parts water and corn starch; not quite liquid, not quite solid).

      • Lisa says:

        Tabatha…I want to thank YOU because like I wrote on my about me page, I welcome critiques because it will make me better at what I do. From hereon in, I’m going to be more specific when writing out the instructions for a recipe. I think there are more ‘occasional’ bakers out there than avid bakers, and I want to make sure anyone, even those who have never baked before, can tackle any recipe on my blog with ease and no confusion. As for the type of milk chocolate I used – http://www.amazon.com/Callebaut-Milk-Callets-33-6/dp/B000C4QQ16. I LOVE callebaut for baking, especially when it comes to labor intensive recipes like this one (More than worth the price. Valrhona is another favorite). But, Ghiradelli is perfectly fine and very good, so I would take down the cream to about 3/4..or even 2/3 or 1/2 cup if you make this again, to insure you get that spreadable, not ‘too’ soft, consistency since different chocolate brands react differently depending on cocoa content, so you adjust if need be.

        Finally, regarding the raspberry buttercream..TO.DIE.FOR, indeed! The only recipe I’ll ever use for raspberry buttercream for the rest of my life!! 🙂

    • Janna says:

      To be fair, most people who bake a lot would understand all of the above, but nothing wrong with asking if you are unsure. But, do you really not know how to tell when cocoa powder is dissolved in hot water??? I honestly ask that in good nature..no sarcasm!

      • Lisa says:

        Hi, Janna. She just wanted to know the consistency of the dissolved cocoa-water..like should it cook down until it’s thick, or something like that, which makes complete sense. 🙂

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