Finding “the right” chocolate cake recipe is sort of like finding “the right” special someone, you know? There are, I think, literally millions of different chocolate cake recipes, each claiming to be better than the last. You go from chocolate cake date to chocolate cake date, comparing, scrutinizing one for being too rich, another for not being rich enough; this one needs more chocolate, that one is too dry… If only you could combine them all into one absolutely perfect specimen. Or, your luck is good and you have the opposite problem: too many perfect chocolate cakes, and how do you choose? At some point you have to come to terms with the fact that there is probably more than one “perfect” chocolate cake out there, whatever that means for you, and you cannot possibly discover them all in your lifetime. The best you can do is just cherish the one you got. I stopped looking for “more perfect” chocolate cake recipes about four years ago when I discovered this one. It is everything a chocolate cake should be, and a whole three layers of it. C refers to it as “the ridiculous cake.” I refer to it as the best.
This is a three-layer cake recipe, but it can also be turned into three dozen cupcakes (the cupcakes are a bit on the flat side as far as cupcakes go, just fyi), or split in half and made in two small round pans (and yes, I do split the egg in half, which is probably silly and you could probably just use two eggs). The original recipe, found here on recipegirl.com, uses a delicious raspberry filling and ganache made from an entire pound of chocolate, but the options are wide open for both filling and frosting. One time I made this cake as cupcakes with a bunch of college boys and we added fresh-cooked crumbled bacon for a chocolate & bacon experience. My photos here are of a half-recipe, two-layer round cake filled and frosted with coffee buttercream. The original recipe is the grandest, though.
As far as cakes go, this one isn’t too difficult or picky. Expect to spend between two and three hours on production and baking, plus the time it takes to cool. You may make the cake the day before and store them wrapped in plastic wrap. The ganache especially needs time to cool completely–but don’t put it in the fridge, or it will turn into a solid block. You will probably end up using a lot of dishes. You will probably spend more time on it than you budgeted for in your schedule. You will probably spend more money on chocolate than you thought possible. And then you will probably have to eat the leftover ganache. This cake is so worth it, though. Bake it for anyone you want to impress, or just bake it for someone you love.
Triple-layer Chocolate Cake with Ganache and Raspberry Filling
3 oz. fine-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
1 1/2 C hot brewed coffee
3 C sugar
2 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 C vegetable or canola oil
1 1/2 C buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 oz. frozen raspberries, thawed
1/4 C sugar
1 TBS cornstarch
1 lb. fine-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 C heavy whipping cream
2 TBS sugar
2 TBS light corn syrup
1/4 C unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1. Preheat oven to 300ºF. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine chocolate with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted. There will probably be some bits of chocolate left at the bottom; this is okay.
3. In a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sifting might seem unnecessary, but it’s really helpful for getting out those lumps in the cocoa that don’t come out any other way.
4. In another large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until thickened slightly and lemon colored (3-5 minutes). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well.
5. Add dry mixture to wet and beat on medium speed until just combined. There may still be a few tiny pockets of flour and/or air.
6. Divide batter evenly between pans and bake in middle of oven 50 to 65 minutes, or until tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean and your kitchen smells amazing.
7. Cool layers completely, in pans, on cooking racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. While cake is cooling, prepare desired frosting/filling.
1. Purée raspberries in a blender or food processor. Strain through a fine sieve to remove seeds. Place purée in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Mix sugar and cornstarch into raspberries. Cook raspberry mixture, stirring frequently, until it boils. Cook at boiling for just a few minutes; it should thicken quickly. Remove from heat and cool.
1. In a medium saucepan (2 quart), bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over medium-low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved.
2. Turn heat to low and add chocolate, stirring until chocolate is melted and combined.
3. Remove from heat and stir in butter pieces. Keep stirring until butter is melted.
4. Cool ganache until it is stiffer but still spreadable (otherwise, it will fall off the sides of the cake).
Assembly: Assemble cake on a large, flat plate. Divide raspberry filling in half and spread half each between the two layers. Cover top and sides generously with ganache. Cool a little more to let ganache turn into a sort of shell, if desired.