Raspberry Chocolate Cake to celebrate spark and spunk

For some reason the raspberries are really good right now: flavor filled buttons of rouge. This should not be; there are still remnants of snow hanging about and nothing has sprouted from the frozen earth in 6 months. I am sure they were piled high in the back of a truck somewhere in sunny California days ago, bumped along highway stretches, made to wait at the border, then driven to Edmonton, unloaded in the back of my Safeway and set on the shelf. After such an arduous journey, they were fresh as spring. Let me tell you, had this been me on such a road trip, I would be looking a little less sprite-ley and a little more troll-ey. But these raspberries, well, they are troopers.

Thank goodness too. It was my brother-in-law’s birthday party. So, while most of my family and friends approach my queries for what they would like to sweeten their day with humble”anything would be lovely” responses, he takes more of a direct approach. “Duffie, we need more chocolate and more rhubarb and more raspberry around the table,” would be pretty close to a direct quote. And, I really tried, I scoured foodgawker, and searched other food blogs I love searching for something that would dazzle me, something that would join rhubarb and non-white chocolate together into something birthday worthy and not garbage worthy but chocolate and rhubarb just are not great friends. I did manage to come across one creme brulee brownie with rhubarb jam, but I am pretty sure I would need a few sessions at a French pastry school before even beginning to think about attempting those pages upon pages of instructions. So, he had to settle for ‘more chocolate’ and more raspberry sans more rhubarb.’

I wanted it to be really heavy on the chocolate while also really embracing those road warrior berries without diluting their flavor. So I opted for a three-tiered Devil’s Food Cake, filled with loads of those tangy raspberries, encased in a creamy chocolate frosting with a raspberry (or twenty) on top.

It was beautiful, graced with tall candles, swirls of icing crowned with raspberries and smooth chocolate… And then Duncan blew out the candles and promptly ate all of the raspberries off the top. It is his birthday and he can do what he wants to, so he did. I would just like to mention here, that he was not turning 10 or any other age that would generally lead you to assume he would dive into the top of his cake and come back up covered in chocolate, no, he turned 30. But, this is so Duncan… he loves life like a kid. He still yells cannonball before hurtling into a pool; he runs into waves with total abandon; he insists on having an official pizza ‘peel’ for pulling his gourmet pizzas from the oven; he runs a Mile in Her Shoes (high-heeled shoes) for charity; he parties until his body literally taps him out by falling asleep sitting up in a chair; and he claps (really loud) and sings (even louder) when we are in the car. This said, don’t get me wrong… he’s not some dead beat party animal who forgot to grow up, he did: he’s a successful salesman, married to a darling, a solid friend, a loyal brother all while being extremely well dressed, he just kept his kid spark and spunk along for the grown up ride.

Here’s to the spark. And here’s to the spunk. Happy Birthday Duncan.

Devil’s Food Cake with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Devil’s Food Cake

1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa (I used regular)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 tsp instant espresso powder
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Adjust the oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat to 350F. Grease 3 x 8″ round cake pans, line with parchment, grease parchment and dust with cocoa (I used flour which was fine too).
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl mix boiling water, chocolate, 1/2 cup cocoa and espresso powder until smooth.
Using a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together on medium speed until fluffy. This takes about 4-5 minutes. Beat eggs in, one at a time until combined. Stop to scrape down bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and vanilla until incorporated.
Reduce speed to low and add flour in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the chocolate. Scrape down bowl as needed. Give batter final stir by hand to ensure you do not over beat.
Divide the batter into the pans and smooth the tops, gently tap on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake cakes for 17-18 minutes, rotating twice to ensure each cake spends an equal amount of time in each position. They are done when a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs attached.
Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes then remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack completely before filling and frosting.

Rich Chocolate Cream Frosting

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate and add the corn syrup. Let it sit covered for 5 minutes then whisk gently until smooth. Refrigerate 1 – 1 1/2 hours, stirring with a spatula every 15 minutes until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

Raspberry Filling

1 cup raspberries (plus raspberries for decorating if you’d like)
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

Use a small food processor to lightly mash berries (or use a fork). Mix jam in until just combined.

To assemble: Line edges of a cake platter with 4 strips of parchment to catch any mess. Place one cake on platter and cover with half the raspberry filling, spread evenly. Place second cake on top and cover with other half of the filling. Place the third cake on top. Use 1/3 of the frosting to cover the cake in a thin crumb coat. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to allow it to harden. Spread almost all of the remaining frosting over the cake. Keep a bit to pipe into decorations on top or around the edge if you would like. Remove the parchment. You can refrigerate the assembled cake for one day.

Enjoy xo

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4 Responses to Raspberry Chocolate Cake to celebrate spark and spunk

  1. Shara says:

    Every time i get this wonderful little blog in my inbox, i can’t wait to read what you wrote. You have such a way with words and the treats don’t hurt either. Such a wonderful husband I have. Let’s hope he never loses that spark and spunk!!

  2. Jus says:

    Oh BOOO my comment got erased! OK here it is again:

    OH that looks so YUMMY! And pretty pictures (teehee!) Now, if I could just eat it…

  3. Great post today. I really enjoyed it very much.

    Check out Today’s Recipes

  4. Duncan says:

    Hey Duff,
    Your words are as kind to my ears as the cake was to my belly. Again I indulged in a little breakfast cake with the leftovers, seems to be a habit. Regarding the french pastry school perhaps it is time you looked at taking this to the next level and learning that Rhubarb and Chocolate can be friends! No brother has ever had a better sister-in-law. Thanks again for the cake!

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