Cake, Batter, and Bowl

Chocolate Raspberry Torte

Desserts

I think Boston is a bit of a cold city. It’s not something I notice anymore on a daily basis, but when I’m visiting more friendly regions, I’m often struck by the joggers who nod and give you a smile as you run past and the eager store employees who go out of their way to help you. These things rarely happen here and the subway is especially a land of aloofness where people tend to avoid eye contact. I’ve found a way to warm people up though – simply tote a homemade dessert around with you.

I have a clear cake carrying case that I bring all my treats to work in with and not only do people tend to smile when they see a dessert inside, many go out of their way to strike up a friendly conversation. Usually they ask if I made it or what flavor it is or just compliment its appearance, but one guy surprised me by pulling a quart of milk out of his backpack and asking if we could split the cherry pie I was holding with everyone on the train if he provided the beverages!

Desserts always make people happy, but I think it’s more than that. I think people realize that a lot of love goes into taking time out of one’s busy schedule to bake something special for someone. And I think they’re drawn to that warmth. A cheesy sentiment perhaps, but wouldn’t the world be a better place with more homemade desserts?

I recently baked up a treat for the most important birthday boy – Apolinaras, who celebrated his big day last Friday. He usually requests a treat with pineapple and coconut, but this year he wanted a decadent raspberry and chocolate cake instead. Here’s what I came up with – a layer of chocolate cake baked in a springform pan topped with a bit of raspberry puree and a creamy raspberry mousse. I garnished it with some dark chocolate shavings and fresh berries. Apolinaras and his coworkers were big fans!

p.s. Apolinaras suggested the best trick for removing the cake from the bottom of the springform pan (apparently, he uses a similar technique to remove his racing badges from his car). After detaching the sides of the pan, nurse a piece of dental floss or fishing line carefully under the entire length of the cake – then you can just lift the cake off with a big spatula and put it on the dish you’d like to serve it on. This avoids someone accidently cutting up the bottom of your fancy pan with a sharp knife!

Chocolate Raspberry Torte
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Raspberry Puree:
12 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Raspberry Mousse:
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For assembly:
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1/2 ounce shaved dark chocolate

Directions:
To make the chocolate cake, heat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder, and salt together into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl until well combined. Add liquids to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl and mix again briefly. Pour cake batter into the prepared springform pan and bake at 350˚F for 28 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for an hour or until completely cooled to room temperature.

To make the raspberry puree, place raspberries in a food processor and pulse until smooth, about one minute. Push puree through a fine mesh strainer into a pot to remove the seeds. Add sugar and lemon juice to the pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes, stirring frequently, or until sugar is dissolved. Cool 1/2 cup of the puree to room temperature (I stuck mine in the freezer for 15 minutes).

To make the raspberry mousse, place heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a well chilled bowl and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 1/2 minutes. Fold 1/2 cup cooled raspberry puree into the whipped cream until smooth.

To assemble the cake, poke cooled chocolate cake all over with a fork and evenly spread remaining 1/2 cup raspberry puree over the cake. Allow to sit for 30 minutes and massage the puree into the cake every 10 minutes. Top with raspberry mousse and garnish with fresh raspberries and shaved dark chocolate. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Remove from pan and smooth edges as needed. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition: 387 calories, 25.5g fat, 4.3g fiber, 4.2g protein per serving
Cost: $0.95 per serving

Nutella Brownie Cups

So, I had this idea to make some Nutella mousse - slightly sweetened whipped cream mixed with a generous amount of chocolate hazelnut goodness. My original plan was to top some cute little brownie cups with it, but umm, by the time the brownies were cooled, there was...

Spiced Apple Cupcakes

I figured it’s about time that I actually post a cake recipe - you know, since my blog is called Cake, Batter, and Bowl and all... I couldn’t resist the cute word play on Shake, Rattle, and Roll when I was brainstorming names with my Dad over Christmas last year, but...

Peanut Butter Chocolate Tart

We’ve started a fun tradition in lab this year where I try to bake something for each person’s birthday. You know I love having the excuse to try new dessert recipes! My only request when I started was that each person make a list of their favorite treats so that I...

Pink Lemonade Sorbet

We lived in California when I was 3 years old and one of my favorite pastimes was picking lemons from the tree in our backyard. I actually only vaugely remember the lemon tree (apparently my mom had to routinely stop me from picking too many at once), but freshly...

Strawberry Cheesecake Filled Yellow Cake

Have you had any baking disasters? I’ve had my fair share, and naturally, they all tend to occur when I’m making a treat to share at a party. One time the pecan crust just fell off the sides of a cheesecake I had made for a lab birthday celebration. Another time a...

Sweet Potato Cups

We love sweet potatoes and always have them around, so when I saw the North Carolina Sweet Potato Sweet n’ Healthy Blogger Recipe Contest had a kid friendly category, I immediately knew I wanted to enter. Apolinaras and I may not have children yet, but we’re both big...

Vanilla Joe-Joe Strawberry Cheesecake

We have a drawer at work filled with snacks that help get us through the day. There are usually choices like pretzels, granola bars, nuts, chocolate, etc, but you’ll always find Trader Joe-Joe’s Vanilla Sandwich Crème Cookies (with real vanilla bean speckles!) because...

Lemon Birthday Bars

What makes these birthday bars? The sprinkles! I just can't resist desserts covered in sprinkles, and sugar cookies with a nice thick layer of frosting are one of my favorite treats.  I recently decided to bake up some fun sprinkle covered sugar cookies with my...