This is simply a remarkable cake. An exquisite cake. A cake Grant labeled as "Quite possibly the best chocolate cake I've ever had". I should have garnished it with fresh raspberries, but it was Christmas....not many quality fresh raspberries in Virginia.
The raspberry complements the chocolate perfectly....not too strong, not too weak....and the filling is just wonderful. I had my doubts about it....I had never made a milk-flour based frosting and just had no idea what it would be like. I was so delighted with the end product. Just trust me, it's fabulous. And the frosting is too.
I didn't use red food coloring in the filling because I try to avoid food coloring unless I'm making birthday cakes....but you're welcome to use it to make it "look" more raspberry-ish.
I had to send Grant to a liqueur store to get the raspberry liqueur - I couldn't find it at the grocery store. I don't know if raspberry extract would be a suitable substitute or not....but I couldn't find any of that either.
Recipe (from Taste of Home Feb/Mar 2009)
3 cups sugar
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup baking cocoa
2 t. baking soda
1-1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. baking powder
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup canola oil
1 T. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature
3 T. all-purpose flour
6 T. milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 T. raspberry liqueur
1/4 t. salt
2 drops red food coloring (optional - I did not use)
4 T. seedless raspberry jam, melted
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
½ c. baking cocoa
1 T. raspberry liqueur
4 cups powdered sugar
Line three greased 9-inch round baking pans with waxed paper and grease paper; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Combine the buttermilk, oil and vanilla; add to the dry ingredients. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat for 2 minutes. Gradually add coffee (batter will be thin).
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely; discard waxed paper.
Level tops of cakes if necessary. Place one layer on a serving plate; spread with about 2 T. jam. Place remaining layers on waxed paper; spread one of the remaining layers with remaining jam. Let stand for 30 minutes.
For filling, in a small saucepan, whisk together flour and milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 2-4 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let stand until cool. In a large bowl, cream butter. Gradually add powdered sugar; mix well. Gradually add cooled milk mixture; beat for 4 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in liqueur, salt and food coloring if desired.
Spread ½ of filling over cake on the plate to within ¼ inch of edges. Top with jam covered cake, then spread with remaining filling. Top with remaining cake layer.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add cocoa and liqueur; mix well. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Frost top and sides of cake. Store in refrigerator.
Note: Cake cuts best when cold, but tastes best when it has been out for at least 30 minutes.
Note 2: I made the cakes a day ahead and then made the filling and frosting and assembled it the next day. Worked great.