Raspberry Chocolate Cake
This test kitchen … is full … of rebels — the kind who love musicals and chocolate cake! Yes, like you, we have watched the preview for Matilda a few hundred times, and we might be more excited for that pack of revolting children to drop on December 25th than we are for Santa Claus.
We plan to greet them with this super tall chocolate cake. It’s a wonderfully dense, dark-chocolate devil’s food cake (how appropriate!) layered with fluffy chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. Sound decadent? And how! It’s made with three kinds of chocolate and two pounds of butter — and a couple pints of bright, sweet tart raspberries to keep things lively.
Raspberry Chocolate Cake is the sort of dessert that will make everyone at Christmas dinner (read: watch party) ooh and ahh and mmm with delight. There’s nothing like the thrill of a triple-layer cake, and this one is so rich, so smooth and cocoa-rific. It’s a real chocolate lover’s dream.
And if our revolting children dig into it with their fingers, we’re not going to get all Trunchbull about it — in fact, we might join them. What are forks to criminals like us?
Serves: 10 to 12
Raspberry Chocolate Cake
To bake the cakes: Preheat the oven to 375º and place the oven racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven. Grease 3 8” cake pans with butter, line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds, and dust the sides with flour, tapping out any excess.
In a medium bowl, combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. Pour the boiling water on top and whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
In a separate medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Reduce the speed to medium, add the sour cream and vanilla, and beat until combined, about 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Reduce the speed to low, add about ⅓ of the dry ingredients and ½ of the chocolate. Repeat, ending with flour mixture and beat until just combined, about 15 seconds. Do not overbeat. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and gently fold to combine.
Divide the batter between the cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake 2 pans on the lower rack and 1 on the upper rack until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool the cakes on wire racks for 15 to 20 minutes. Run a knife around the pans’ perimeters to loosen, invert the cakes onto a cooling rack, and remove the parchment. Let cool completely before icing.
To make the chocolate buttercream: In a saucepan, bring 1” of water to a simmer and place a heat-proof bowl on top. Add the chocolate, stirring occasionally until melted, about 7 minutes. Set aside.
Place the bowl of a stand mixer over the pot. Add the sugar, salt, and egg whites to the bowl. Whisk gently and constantly until the egg whites reach 150º on an instant-read thermometer, about 8 minutes.
Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until fluffy, white, and room temperature, about 5 minutes. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until smooth and creamy.
Slowly pour in the cooled, melted chocolate and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute.
To assemble the cake: Halve 1 pint of the raspberries. Place a dollop of buttercream on a serving plate. Top it with one cake layer and a very thin layer of buttercream. Press ½ of the halved raspberries flat on top of the cake layer. Spread a ½”-thick layer of buttercream on top. Repeat 1 more time with another layer of cake, raspberries, and frosting.
Place the last cake layer on top. Coat the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting. Place the cake in the fridge and chill until firm, 30 minutes.
With the remaining buttercream, frost the whole cake as desired. Top with the remaining raspberries. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Leftover cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.