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 single bowl!
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)
Almondy 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
  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 cocoa). 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.
*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.
Recipe by parsley sage sweet at https://www.parsleysagesweet.com/2012/02/06/rustic-chocolate-valentine-cake-for-src-and-chocolatelove-plus-bad-boy-first-love-part-three/