Thursday, March 7, 2013

Raspberry Red Wine Chocolate Layer Cake

Raspberry red wine chocolate cake. Yes. I went there. I soooo went there.

This cake was for the captain's mom's birthday this last weekend. To make her birthday a little extra special, we decided to make a weekend trip down to the central coast to pay her a little visit. The weekend went by waaaay too fast, as it always does, but we did get in some time to go to the beach with her, enjoy a great lunch and a bottle of wine at one of the local wineries as well as have a birthday BBQ with the rest of the family. It's always a such a great time when we to go visit her and see the rest of the captain's family, but to be honest, every time I go down there, I always feel like I leave a little bit of my heart there. You know how Tony Bennett sings about leaving his heart in San Francisco? I feel the same way about San Luis Obispo. Once you make it your home for four great years during college and have all those amazing memories, it's hard not to get a little emotional every time you have to leave. I don't think that part will ever change.

Okay, enough sappiness and back to cake! A birthday is not complete without a super special birthday dessert. At least that's the rule in my book. Now, the captain's mom loves chocolate as much as he does (or maybe it's the other way around!), but they both know I just couldn't do a plain chocolate cake. Let's be real here. As the captain say, "you, a plain cake?!". He's right though. I just can't do it. I mean, I can do it, but I want to challenge myself and make a special cake. Special people deserve extra special cakes. Again, another rule in my book. So, when I saw a recipe for a red wine chocolate cake, they had me at red wine and I knew I had to make it. I have had my eye on a red wine chocolate cupcake for a while, but have yet to get around trying it. When I saw this recipe, I knew this would be the perfect cake for the captain's mom. Plus, how perfect do red wine and chocolate go together? They go together like peas and carrots. Or peanut butter and jelly. Ooh a pb&j cake. Now that's good idea. I better add that to the to-do list.

The original cake recipe called for blackberry wine and blackberry preserves. I don't know about you, but blackberry wine is not something that is easily found around these parts. If it is for you, that's great, but don't fret if you can't find it. Regular ol' red wine will work just fine! Just remember if you won't drink it, don't cook with it. Seriously. If your wine tastes like like feet, why would you want to use it in your cooking? Gross! Since I couldn't find blackberry wine, I decided to pair my red wine selection with raspberry preserves. You could of course use blackberry, but there is just something about raspberry and chocolate that is just as good of a combination as chocolate and red wine. This cake seems like it would be complicated to make, but trust me, it's not as hard as it seems! And if you are like me and only have two 8-inch cake pans and a bazillion 9-inch cake pans, do not go running to the store. You can use your 9-inch pans here. Just make sure to reduce the time to about 20 minutes or so, but keep an eye on the cakes starting at 15 to make sure you don't over bake. Since the layers are a bit thinner than if you were to use an 8-inch pan, they will cook up a little faster. 

The ooberly delicious cake bakes up moist and tender and then is layered with raspberry preserves, vanilla bean butter cream (I had extra vanilla beans on hand so I went ahead and used them. If you don't, vanilla extract will be just fine here and be just as yummy!) and then topped with a layer of chocolate ganache. Yes, you heard me, ganache. To take it over the top delicious, I also covered the top of the cake in raspberries. Why? Why not! This part is not necessary, but because I found a killer deal on fresh raspberries, I had to do it. This cake was the perfect way to say happy happy birthday to the captain's mom!


the wet ingredients

sifting those dry ingredients to prevent lumpies


add a thin layer of preserves

close up of the vanilla bean buttercream. can you see the flecks?

let the layering process begin

prepping the glaze

finished product ready for the birthday girl!

Raspberry Red Wine Chocolate Layer Cake (adapted from Love and Olive Oil)

For cake:
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup light olive or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For frosting:

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (if you have vanilla beans, use the vanilla caviar from two beans)
1/4 cup raspberry preserves

For chocolate glaze:

3.5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
4-5 tablespoons warm water

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter or spray non-stick spray and line three 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, whisking until thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, wine, oil, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Divide evenly among prepared pans.

Bake for 28 to 35 minutes (start checking early to avoid over cooking! Also, if using 9-inch pans, start checking at 15 minutes!) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Run a small knife around the edges of each pan, then gently invert onto wire racks. Cakes should come out cleanly. Allow to cool completely.

To prepare frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until very pale and creamy, about 8 minutes. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add cream and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes more. Add more cream or powdered sugar as needed to achieve desired consistency.

To assemble, level each cake layer by cutting of the domed top with a long serrated knife. Place one layer, flat side down, on a cake stand or serving platter. Spread half of the blackberry preserves evenly on top, followed by approximately 1/2 cup of buttercream. Position second layer on top and press to adhere. Repeat with remaining preserves, another 1/2 cup of buttercream, and final cake layer, flat side up.

Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. This "crumb coat" will make frosting the cake easier. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to allow this crumb coat to set. At this point if you will be coloring the remaining buttercream, add your food coloring to the mixing bowl and beat until color is uniform. Remove cake from refrigerator and frost with remaining buttercream, reserving some for piping decorative details if desired. Return cake to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, to prepare the glaze, place chopped chocolate and heavy cream in a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar, stirring until smooth. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, until the chocolate is of a good pouring consistency. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes or until lukewarm. Pour glaze slowly on top of chilled cake, spreading to edges with an offset spatula, allowing the chocolate to drip over the edges. Continue pouring until desired drizzle effect is achieved (you may not use the entire amount). Top with fresh raspberries (optional) and then chill until set.

red wine + chocolate = love


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