Every once in a while I like to make a showstopping dessert. This Saturday was just one of those occasions as we hosted a lunch for some friends from my husband’s school days. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it was time for something chocolate. Something beautiful. Something decadent. And this chocolate raspberry torte filled with whipped ganache, covered in rich thick ganache and topped with chocolate ribbon curls and fresh raspberries was exactly what I was looking for.
This looks like a long recipe. Don’t be discouraged because it’s actually quite easy and so worth it in the long run. It starts with a basic chocolate cake. I like this recipe from Canadian Living:
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBS brewed coffee
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
Grease and flour 2 x 8″ cake pans. Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, cream butter and add sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and mix well. Add vanilla and coffee (I like to add the coffee to bring out the chocolate flavour – it gives it a much richer taste in the end and you won’t even notice the coffee).
In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the sugar mixture alternately beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Scrape into pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then turn out and continue to cool completely.
To pump up the raspberry flavour of this cake, I like to use a simple syrup.
Raspberry Simple Syrup
1/2 can frozen raspberry juice concentrate (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
In a small saucepan bring ingredients to a boil. Boil slowly for 5 minutes. Let cool before using.
You will use the same recipe for both the filling and the topping on the cake. Don’t be intimidated by ganache – it’s easy to make and versatile. This is a recipe you will use over and over again in baking – one of the basics in the pastry kitchen. I use it to ice brownies, to make truffles, as a cake filling as in this cake or an icing also in this case.
2 cups heavy cream
2 TBS butter
18 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I use Baker’s chocolate, but you can use any kind of good baking chocolate like Ghiradelli or Valrhona)
In a heavy saucepan slowly heat the cream and butter till the butter melts. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate and let it sit in the warm cream for about 1 minute to soften it. Stir the chocolate mixture until it is completed melted and incorporated into a smooth mixture. Don’t panic if it looks all grainy at first – it will come together in about a minute of stirring.
Let cool completely at room temperature for about 3 – 4 hours. It won’t be solid as you will need to spread it over the cake. Think softened butter as a good consistency. If you think it needs to be a bit thicker, put it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to stiffen it up a bit more (like I did because I couldn’t/wouldn’t wait any longer – patience is not one of my strong points).
Take half of the ganache and whip it with an electric mixer until it is fluffy and has paled to a light cocoa colour. Reserve the remainder to ice the outside of the cake.
To assemble the cake you will also need about 1/4 cup raspberry jam and another 4 oz. of semisweet chocolate to make the ribbons.
Cut each layer in half horizontally. Brush the top and sides of the cake layers with the simple syrup. Place the bottom layer on your serving plate and put strips of wax paper under the cake to protect the plate.
Spread 1/2 the raspberry jam on the cake layer. Top with another cake layer. Spread the whipped buttercream over this layer. Then repeat the jam layer again.
With a large spatula, spread the dark ganache over the tops and sides of the cake. Try to smooth it as much as possible by wiping the spatula clean and running under hot water. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just don’t want a fluffy look like a traditional cake.
Now here’s the fun part. Make the chocolate ribbons. It’s easy and people will gasp at the results it’s so beautiful. You’ll need to melt the additional 4 oz. of chocolate and spread it onto an inverted cookie sheet. Let the chocolate cool for about 30 minutes until it has reached room temperature. DON’T PUT IT IN THE FRIDGE. If you refrigerate it, the chocolate will be too hard to work with. You will need one of these:
I’m linking in with It’s So Cheri for It’s Party Time. Check it out.