Saturday, December 11, 2010

noosh's dark chocolate raspberry birthday cake

It's tough to have a birthday in the midst of final exams. Noosh's birthday happens to fall under this criteria. Fortunately, neither of us had any exams scheduled today, so it was all good. And baking/celebrating was a nice break from the seemingly endless, mind-numbing, constant stream of studying that we've been doing for the past week or so. [I may have gotten kicked out of Starbucks yesterday after erratically spending six hours there...]

Plus, when it comes to my friends, the celebrations start well before their actual birthday [evidence by the box of Dunkin Donuts we devoured for dinner last ni- I mean, what?].

Yesterday night I began baking Noosh's birthday cake. Luckily for me, Noosh is the type of person [and we've been biffles long enough for this to be the case] that tells me exactly what she wants, not only for a gift, but also for her cake. Though, at this point, I can pretty much confidently guess her cake of choice: any sort of chocolate and raspberry combination [and, to be honest, who doesn't love chocolate and raspberry together?]. So, naturally, I wanted to go with something rich, decadent, and sugar-coma-inducing.

Triple layered, dark chocolate cake with a bittersweet raspberry chocolate ganache and raspberry preserve filling.


Inspiration for this recipe actually comes from 17 and Baking's blog, though I did make a few slight modifications.

Triple Layer Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Raspberry Ganache

For the cake, you'll need:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/8 cups unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

For the raspberry chocolate ganache and filling, you'll need:
  • 16 oz semisweet chocolate 
  • 1 cup [2 sticks] butter
  • 2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 3/4 cup raspberry preserves 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour 3 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper [make sure to grease and flour the surface of the parchment paper as well].

In a stand mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour in canola oil and sour cream and mix until blended. Slowly pour in water, vinegar, and vanilla and mix. Finally, add in eggs and mix until just combined. Divide batter evenly among the three pans. Bake for 35 minutes, until center of cakes are springy to the touch. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before inverting cakes on a wire rack to cool. Let cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate while preparing ganache.

To make ganache, microwave raspberries for 3 minutes, at increments of 1 minute. Mash raspberries with a spoon in between microwaving to release juices. Once raspberries are mashed, run through a strainer. You should have about 1/3 cup of juice. While raspberry juice is cooling, heat butter and chocolate slowly in a microwave or over a saucepan, whisking for an even sauce. While whisking, slowly pour in cooled raspberry juice. Let ganache cool completely, firming to spreading consistency, before frosting cake.

To assemble cake, spread half the raspberry preserves on top of the bottom layer and spread out, leaving a border around the outside edges of the cake unfrosted [once the layers are stacked, the filling will spread to the edges of the cake]. Spread a thin layer of raspberry ganache on top of the preserves, being careful not to mix the two. Stack the second layer on top and repeat with the preserves and ganache. Place final layer on top, bottom- [i.e. flat-] side up. Scantly frost the top and sides of the cake, so that ganache layer is almost see-through, and refrigerate cake for 10 minutes before frosting fully. [Refrigerating the cake will allow for a more even frost.] Use the remaining ganache to finish frosting the cake.

Decorate as desired and refrigerate until time to serve. Cake can be made up to one day in advance and stored in the fridge. If frosted, cake does not need to be wrapped or covered in the refrigerator.

Noosh's parents came down for the afternoon and we all went out for lunch together to this darling little restaurant called The Boat House. Oh man, I hadn't had real food outside the realm of Chipotle's or the occasional Tara Thai or Boylan burger in what seemed like ages, so this was quiiiiiiite nice. Plus, I always love seeing her parents. I've known them forever too, after all.

mussels steamed in a walnut butter sauce with toasted french bread
Definitely a welcome break, I'd have to say. And who isn't automatically in a fantastic mood when it's a friend's birthday, AND you get to eat mussels and bread? [Especially when the only food in your apartment is half a canister of oatmeal and a bag of all-purpose flour.]

And now, to my darling, immature, not-really-that-old, sister from another mister, best apartment mate ever, Noosh,

Happy 20th birthday! I hope it [and the cake] turned out as amazing as you are! 

Love from me, always 

good thing we saved that 'happy birthday' pop-up from september...
In other news, my love for the piano has increased tenfold over the past week. Mainly because I rediscovered my favorite solo artist [Kyle Landry - check him out, he's absolutely amazing] on youtube and have been listening to his incredible improvised piano arrangements and wishing I had an ounce of his talent. Consequently, my fingers have literally been twitching all week in anticipation of going back home to my beloved upright. Not that I'm particularly good in the least, but I've got about 30 pages of untouched sheet music waiting for me to butcher 'em up sitting on my piano bench. Just two more finals standing in the way of me and my music. Ugh.


  1. mmmmm..... Dunkin Donuts!


  3. I think that is the best looking (and tasting?)cake you've made so far Sabeen.I really wish you could've saved a peice for your mama!

  4. your cake is beautiful. the ganache sounds incredible!

  5. This looks beautiful! I'm craving chocolate! :)

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe and with so much detail on the prepartion! I made it for an Easter Potluck and it was a decadent hit! I will defintely be following more of your content!

  7. Hey Sabeen,
    I'm Nimra's cousin, Maria. I saw your blog and I love it! I also immediately fell in love with this cake which I ambitiously plan on making for my dinner party this Sunday. I will let you know how it turns out!

  8. Nice to hear from you, Maria, and I'm glad you like the site! Good luck with the cake; can't wait to hear how it goes!

  9. Hey Sabeen!

    So sorry but I forgot to update you about the cake. It was a huge success! My friends loved it, my whole family really enjoyed it. It was so deliciously decadent (between me and my dad,I think we polished off more than half of the cake). Anyhoo, we have another party coming up this Saturday and I have my eye on Nigella Lawson's chocolate cherry trifle. Lol you can tell how much I love the whole chocolate + any fruit combination.

  10. Hi Maria! I'm so glad it was a success!! I think that the cake is delicious, so I was hoping you'd like it! Nigella's cakes are always phenomenal; I haven't tries that particular one, but I'm sure it'll be the same! :)

  11. This cake must have been a winner! Looks and sounds amazing..... am really looking forward to trying it. Well done... even the photography is good. Keep it up... Gozo Girl

  12. I made your cake only because you made it for your friends birthday. My best friends birthday was April 22 and she loves raspberry * chocolate anything. In my search your recipe came up and your story about making it for your friend's birthday, I said this is it!!!!
    Well, let me tell you everyone loved the cake. It's very rich and makes a great presentation. I made this at 1am in the morning and frosted the cake the next morning. Just heads up on ganache be
    patient, it takes a long time for the frosting to rich the right
    consistency I just put mine in the fridge for a short period of time until it got thicker. Thank you for sharing. Janet

  13. Hi Sabeen - I am really looking forward to trying your Dark Choc Rasp cake! My girl's school does an annual fund raising chili cook off/dessert auction and I'm going to try your cake this year! It looks amazing and I too can't get enough of chocolate and fruit!! The combination of rasp and dark chocolate is manna from heaven! I'd love your input as to using dark chocolate as opposed to semi sweet in the ganache?

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Thanks so much for reading!
I'd love to hear your thoughts :)