Chocolate Raspberry Cake
With three thick layers of moist chocolate cake, melted chocolate buttercream, and a raspberry curd filling, this Chocolate Raspberry Cake is the perfect way to celebrate any occasion.
Earlier this week, I shared a recipe for homemade raspberry curd. Today, we’re using this curd to make February’s Layer Cake of the Month: a chocolate raspberry cake filled with raspberry curd!
While the rich chocolate cake and pink raspberry curd are perfect for Valentine’s Day this weekend, this is really a perfect year-round cake.
It’s my favorite super moist best chocolate layer cake, but we’re adding in layers of raspberry curd and using a frosting with melted chocolate poured in for an extra chocolatey boost!
The cake comes together surprisingly quickly (plenty of time to make it before Valentine’s Day!) and leftovers freeze well in case you can’t finish a whole cake at once. (Or pass some on to your neighbors, which is what we always do!)
Ready to learn the best tips and tricks for filled cakes? Let’s go!
Moist and Fluffy Chocolate Cake
This chocolate cake recipe is my favorite — it produces a consistently fluffy, moist cake packed with chocolate flavor. There are three ingredients we use that really maximize both the flavor and texture.
First: buttermilk. If you can use real buttermilk, I highly recommend it. The thicker and clumpier, the better – try to avoid thin, watery buttermilk. If you can’t get buttermilk at all, adding a little lemon juice or vinegar to whole milk is a good substitute – but real buttermilk is the best option!
Second: vegetable oil. While butter has a better flavor profile, the chocolate in this cake overrides the taste difference between butter vs. oil, and using vegetable oil helps counteract the extremely drying texture of the cocoa powder. Oil is more hydrating and since it remains liquid at room temperature, it helps maintain the soft, fluffy texture.
Third: hot coffee. Wait, hot coffee? What’s hot coffee doing in our chocolate cake?! It’s time for my favorite subject… kitchen chemistry.
Adding coffee to chocolate cake enhances the flavor profile of chocolate. Because both share similar flavor characteristics, coffee amplifies the taste of dark chocolate. Furthermore, new research shows that coffee makes our taste buds perceive things as sweeter — adding coffee to a cake can make it taste a little sweeter without adding more sugar! Using hot coffee, instead of cold, helps ensure the cocoa powder is fully dissolved.
Melted Chocolate Buttercream
Regular chocolate American-style buttercream works just fine for this cake (use this recipe). But for an extra chocolatey flavor, and some extra help making sure our raspberry filling stays in place, I like to use a buttercream made with melted chocolate.
As the frosting cools and chills in the refrigerator, it becomes more solid than classic buttercream. This helps ensure the raspberry curd doesn’t leak out between the layers.
However, because it’s a little stiffer, it’s also a little harder to get a smooth finish on the cake. Run a metal offset spatula under hot water and use the heated spatula to smooth the frosting around the cake.
Take the chocolate raspberry cake out of the refrigerator an hour before serving and slice with a knife dipped under hot water.
How to Fill a Cake
Filling a cake with a softer substance, like curd or jam, is actually quite easy.
I like to start with a full layer of frosting underneath; this helps ensure the curd doesn’t seep into the chocolate cake.
Next, pipe a thick border of frosting along the outside edge of the cake. This will act like a barrier to contain the curd so it doesn’t leak out the side. (See image above.)
Spoon your curd into the center of the cake, spreading it out to the edge of the frosting. After this step, refrigerate the whole cake for 10-15 minutes to firm up the frosting. Then place the next layer of cake on top and repeat.
Once the layers are assembled, frost the outside of the cake and the top and refrigerate to set the frosting, followed by spreading chocolate ganache on top.
Recommended Tools to Make a Layered Raspberry Chocolate Cake
- 8″ Round Cake Pans: This three-layer cake will use 3 8-inch round cake pans. (See FAQ section to use 9-inch cake pans instead.)
- Parchment Paper Rounds: Save the hassle of cutting parchment to fit and use precut round parchment paper to line the cake pans.
- Stand Mixer: A stand mixer or hand mixer is used to mix both the batter and the frosting, but I prefer the paddle attachment of a stand mixer to the whisk attachment of a hand mixer.
- Bake Even Strips: I always wrap Bake Even strips around cake pans – it keeps the cake from doming, so there is no need to level the cake.
- Cake Turntable: A rotating cake stand is the easiest way to decorate a cake – hold the spatula still and turn the cake.
- Piping Bags: Piping bags are the perfect way to line the edge of the cake layers with frosting and add the chocolate ganache drip.
- Offset Spatula: An offset spatula is an essential tool to help smooth frosting on the outside of a cake.
Frequently Asked Questions about Chocolate Raspberry Cake
The cake relies on the acidity of buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, combine 1 cup of whole or 2% milk with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and vinegar and allow this mixture to sit for 5 minutes before mixing it into the cake.
Yes, if you don’t want to make homemade curd, you can use store-bought curd or raspberry jam. The jam is thicker and doesn’t spread quite as easily but gently heating it will help.
I will always, always recommend using Bake Even strips around your cake pans – it keeps the cakes perfectly flat so you don’t have to level them!
This cake makes three thick 8-inch layers, or it can make three thin 9-inch layers. Nine-inch layers will bake quicker; start checking for doneness around 30 minutes. For three thick 9-inch layers, multiply each ingredient by 1.5.
Because of the homemade raspberry curd, the cake requires refrigeration. Take the cake out of the refrigerator an hour before slicing and serving.
More Berry Desserts:
- Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake
- Raspberry Crumb Cake
- Strawberry Layer Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting
- Blackberry Pie Bars
- Blueberry Almond Breakfast Cake
- All Fruit Desserts ≫
2021 Layer Cake of the Month Series
For the Cake:
- 2 3/4 cups (330 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3 cups (594 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (84 grams) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (340 grams) buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups (340 grams) hot coffee
- 3/4 cup (149 grams) vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups (339 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 12 ounces (340 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup (42 grams) dark or black cocoa powder
- 5 cups (567 grams) confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (57 grams) heavy cream
- 1 recipe homemade raspberry curd
For the Chocolate Ganache
- 7 ounces (198 grams) dark chocolate, chopped
- 2/3 cup (151 grams) heavy cream
- additional raspberries, for decorating
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease and flour (or spray with nonstick baking spray) three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the pans with parchment paper, then spray or grease and flour again.
- Make the cake batter. Using a mixer, combine together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes. The batter will be thin.
- Bake the cake batter. Divide the batter evenly among the three pans. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a moist crumb. Cool the cakes in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting. To make the frosting, cream the butter until smooth using an electric mixer on low speed. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix until butter and chocolate are combined. Add the cocoa powder and 2 cups of the powdered sugar, along with the salt. Slowly pour in half of the heavy cream, followed by the rest of the powdered sugar and the remaining heavy cream. Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for 2 additional minutes. If the frosting is too dry, add an additional tablespoon or two of heavy cream; if the frosting is too runny, add an additional tablespoon or two of confectioners sugar
- Assemble the cake. Level the cakes if necessary. Cover the bottom layer of cake with 3/4 cup of the frosting. Pipe a border of frosting along the edge an refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Spread half the raspberry curd inside the piped frosting border. Top with a second cake layer and repeat. Place the final layer on top of the cake, face down, and frost the sides and top of the cake. Refrigerate to set the frosting.
- Prepare the chocolate ganache. Microwave the heavy cream on 50% power for 30 second increments or heat on the stovetop in a small saucepan until it just comes to a boil. Place the chopped chocolate in a glass mixing bowl and pour the cream over the chocolate. Allow this mixture to sit for 2 minutes to melt the chocolate, and then whisk from the center outside until the ganache is smooth. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until the ganache has thickened but is still pourable, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the ganache into a piping bag, snip off the corner, and drip the ganache along the edge of the cake, encouraging the ganache to run down the sides. Pour the remaining ganche into the center of the cake. Decorate with additional raspberries. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to set the ganache.
- This recipe relies on the acidity of buttermilk. For the best texture and flavor, use thick, whole milk buttermilk over the thinner reduced-fat buttermilk. If buttermilk is not available, combine 1 cup of whole milk with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and vinegar and allow this mixture to sit for 5 minutes before mixing it into the cake.
- Store-bought raspberry jam can be substituted for homemade raspberry curd if desired. Heat the jam gently to make it easier to spread across the layer of frosting.
- Because of the melted chocolate, the frosting is thick. Run an offset spatula under hot water, quickly dry, and use the heated spatula to smooth out the outside layer of frosting.
- The recipe can be used as is to make three thinner 9-inch cake layers (reduce baking time by 5 minutes) or multiply all cake ingredients by 1.5 to make three thick 9-inch cake layers.
- The cake should be refrigerated due to the raspberry curd. Bring the cake out of the refrigerator and set it at room temperature one hour before slicing and serving.
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