Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Layer Cake

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Now, this cake, my friends, is not for the faint of heart. It is not a cake that can be easily whipped up in a spare hour or two. However, believe me when I say that this cake is well worth the effort. I mean it. The finished product is absolutely incredible. Three layers of rich chocolate cake. Each layer is topped with a generous serving of chocolate ganache, which also forms a seal and keeps in a beautiful layer of raspberry filling. Finally, after assembling, the entire cake is coated in a luscious, yet delicate, raspberry swiss meringue buttercream and a chocolate ganache glaze finishes off this masterpiece.
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I made this cake for a potluck style dinner party with some friends of ours… we each made half of a meal, and then came together for a full on feast. A feast it was as well! There was elk schnitzel, a stuffed crusted pork tenderloin, awesome cheesy potatoes, maple pepper carrots, sourdough with spinach dip, and for dessert, pavlova and this cake. Like I said, it was a feast. We probably could have served six, but there was only four of us and that was fine with me.

Either way, back to the cake. This amazing concoction I got from Annie, and her recipe is here. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe, except I couldn’t find espresso powder, so I ended up buying a small jar of instant coffee, and it made no difference. The reason bakers add coffee to a chocolate cake is because the coffee amps up the flavour of the chocolate and really makes it stand out.
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If you have some time, and want to immerse yourself in a great recipe that is complex but not complicated, with multiple components that really combine to create a phenomenal finished product, then this cake is the perfect solution. I will probably be dreaming about this cake for a while.
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Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch cake

For the cake:

1½ c. cocoa powder
1 tbsp. espresso powder (or instant coffee powder)
1½ c. boiling water
¾ c. sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla
1½ c. (12 oz.) butter, at room temperature
2½ c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
3 large eggs
1¾ c. plus 2 tbsp. flour
1¼ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt

For the raspberry filling:

16oz. frozen raspberries, thawed
1/3 c. sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon juice

For the ganache filling:

8oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 c. heavy cream
3 tbsp. butter, at room temperature

For the raspberry buttercream:

1 c. sugar
4 large egg whites
21 tbsp. (1¼ c. plus 1 tbsp.) butter, at room temperature
1/3 c. strained raspberry puree
½ tsp. vanilla
Red or pink food colouring

For the chocolate glaze:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ c. heavy cream
¼ c. corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 9-inch pans. I used my miracle cake release and my bake even strips here. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa and the espresso powder. Add in the boiling water and whisk until smooth and slightly cooler. Whisk in the sour cream.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, then add the eggs in one at a time, beating after each addition. Add in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Turn the mixer on low speed an add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the cocoa/sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat everything until just incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pans for about 15 minutes, then transfer from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

To make the raspberry filling, drain the thawed berries, draining the liquid into a liquid measuring cup. Add enough water to make 1¼ cups of liquid. Add the liquid to a medium saucepan with the sugar and the cornstarch, and whisk together. Heat over medium-high heat, until mixture starts to thicken and bubble. Continue whisking until mixture is thick so no lumps form. As soon as the mixture thickens, remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice. Fold in the drained berries with a spatula. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the refrigerator. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan or in the microwave until it is quite hot, but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 1-2 minutes. Whisk into a smooth ganache, then whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until completely incorporated. Let the ganache sit to thicken to a spreading and piping consistency. This can be sped up if you put the ganache in the refrigerator for a few minutes at a time, stirring occasionally. Once the ganache is spreading and piping consistency, transfer about ¾ of the mixture to a piping bag. Reserve the rest.

To assemble the cake, place a cake layer on a serving platter. Of the reserved ganache not in the pastry bag, spread half in a thin layer on top of the cake. Pipe a thick layer around the outer edge of the cake with the ganache in the piping bag, making a well to hold the raspberry filling. Spoon half of the raspberry filling into the well. Carefully place the second cake later on top of the fillings. Repeat the process of spreading the remainder of the reserved ganache, piping a well around the outer edge of the cake, and filling with the remainder of the raspberry filling. Top with last layer of cake and place in the refrigerator while you make the frosting.

To make the raspberry buttercream frosting, combine the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl and set over a pot of simmering water (double boiler or bain marie), making sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Heat, whisking frequently, until mixture reaches 160°F and sugar has dissolved. As soon as mixture reaches desired temperature, transfer the mixer bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat together until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature (bowl should be cool to the touch). Reduce the speed and add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition is incorporated. If frosting starts to look soupy or curdled, just keep beating. I promise, it will come together. The frosting will turn thick and smooth. Blend in the vanilla and the raspberry puree until completely incorporated. Add in food colouring or gel icing tint if desired.

*To make the puree, just throw some fresh or thawed raspberries in a blender or press through a sieve, getting as much of the berry flesh and juice out without any seeds.*

Frost the top and sides of the cake with the frosting in an even layer, getting the frosting as smooth as possible. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

To make the ganache glaze, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and heat the cream in a saucepan or microwave. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate, and let sit 1-2 minutes, then whisk together. Blend in the corn syrup and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Let cool for about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Transfer to a measuring cup or pitcher (or make everything in a liquid measuring cup to dirty one less dish). Pour glaze slowly over chilled cake, making sure top is completely covered and glaze runs down the sides of the cake. Garnish with any leftover ganache in the pastry bag and fresh raspberries, if desired.

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