Saturday, April 11, 2015

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Layer Cake

My mom married a fellow April-birthday baby, so we are heading to their place to visit and are bringing a cake! Originally I was going to just bake a regular cake with regular icing (mmm regular, my specialty!) but instead I searched Pinterest and found this delectable treat! It looked too good not to try!! Rather than write out how to do it (she does quite an amazing job of that herself!), I'll be writing about my experience in the baking process and a few hints I picked up along the way.

I am definitely a horse of a different color in that I enjoy dedicating a Saturday to baking a cake - this was my weekend plans!  I started at 10 am and was finished by 3 pm (5 hours!!!), but that is partly my fault. It calls for baking 3 layers of cake, and I only have one cake pan, so that added a good hour or more to the event, AND I had some very important things to do*. So let's estimate for a more efficient worker, this could maybe take 3 hours. 

Ingredients (en totale)

1½ cups (4½ oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp espresso powder 
1½ cups boiling water
¾ cup sour cream
1 Tbsp + 2.5 tsp vanilla extract 
4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature (this is not a cake for Weight Watchers)
3 2/3 cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar 
7 large eggs 
1¾ cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
16 oz. frozen raspberries, thawed
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp lemon juice
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1.5 cups heavy cream
Small container of fresh raspberries
¼ cup light corn syrup
Pink gel icing color (optional)

Helpful hint:

You can go to Central Market or elsewhere with bulk coffee beans and use their grinder on the Turkish setting for espresso powder - it is the finest setting and it will come out as powder! Don't buy pre-made Espresso powder for $5 when you can grind your own for $1.30! 

How To:

Step 1: Cake

Bake the cake first (or, as in my case with the singular pan, bake the cake throughout!) - I made the cake during baby's first nap, it was quite convenient! Note: the delicious-looking batter of just unsweetened chocolate and espresso powder, water, and sour cream - NOT SO DELICIOUS. Don't eat it, you'll have to wash your mouth out... like I did... 

Step 2: Raspberry Filling

While the cake was in the oven, I made the raspberry filling - this was pretty fun and easy, if I do say so myself! It smelled quite yummy, too!

Sometime around here*, stop and play with the baby and have your husband run out for breakfast tacos. Check the cake in the oven, and relax on the couch.

Step 3: Chocolate Ganache

I held off on making the ganache until all 3 layers were finished baking since it was supposed to be used at a particular temperature - not too hot, not too cool. 

Step 4: Raspberry Icing

While the ganache was cooling, I went ahead and made the icing. I've never made egg white icing before, so this was a fun new experience! 
When her recipe calls for "raspberry puree, drained", just blend a handful or 2 of raspberries until it's fairly smooth. Drain it to avoid seeds in your icing!  I put it in a very fine mesh sieve and pressed until as much juice could come out. To be honest, I got slightly less than 1/3 cup, but this was possibly the most time-intensive step! 

The heating of the egg whites and sugar mixture didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would, under 5 minutes. Keep a thermometer handy and don't burn yourself on the steam from the boiling pot underneath the bowl... ahem. 

Step 5: Assemble the Cake

This was a super fun step, but was definitely a bit tricky!! Using the ganache as a layer but also as a "border" for the raspberry filling, spread the ganache all over the first layer, and top with the filling. When putting the next layer on top, try to figure out a way to do this without the cake breaking apart! This was very tricky for me, but it ended up working. Just remember, no one can see what it looks like under the icing! 


Step 6: Ice the cake

I once watched a video on how to ice a cake, and they said to basically dump an obscene amount of frosting on top and continue working it from the top to the sides, so that's what I did! And it worked surprisingly well! Not perfect, I'm still an amateur, but it really did cover the entire thing and there was still a tiny bit leftover for quality assurance purposes!

Step 7: Finish!

Last step(s) is to make the chocolate glaze, and decorate the cake using the piping bag of ganache. I like to write on cakes, so even though it wasn't perfect, I wrote my mom and her hubby's names on the cake along with the swirly dots for the raspberries to be housed in. Somehow I managed to miss a spot where a raspberry would go and ended up with 15 rather than 16 - it's an odd number but hopefully no one will notice! 

And voila!!! A beautiful, tasty, in no way diet-friendly, lovingly-created homemade cake! Happy birthday, Mom and Neil!

Last helpful hint: 

Make sure the shelf you put your beautifully finished product on in the refrigerator has enough room for the entire cake to fit... I did NOT do this, and ended up smushing the raspberries forward on my cake like the little game no one can win at the arcades where you push the coins over the edge! I luckily noticed before the berries made it to "Susan", but as the arcade game goes, there were no winners in this deal. At least the glaze wasn't totally dry yet so I managed to smooth it out as well as possible - it's a little messy, but so am I! I know my mom doesn't expect perfection, and this cake will be damn tasty at their birthday party!


They look pretty happy, don't they? Happy birthday, lovebirds!

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