Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze

It’s a beautiful Canadian day! Last night I was attempting to compose this second part of  my favourite-cakes-into-cupcakes post, and I was literally falling asleep sitting up, so I decided to close the laptop and go to sleep (it was still light out!). After eight wonderful, beautiful, and, most importantly, uninterrupted hours of rest, I woke up this morning at 5:30am–before the kids! I decided to make some strong French press coffee and write this post in bed with windows open, early-morning sun, and country breeze (very French indeed). There are, however, a pair of little wee feet pressed up against my leg as I write, but at least they’re sleeping feet. I am, undoubtedly, a morning person: a morning baker and a morning writer, so now that I’m rejuvenated, caffeinated, and motivated, let’s talk cupcakes. If you read Wednesday’s post, Campfire Delight Cupcakes, you’ll recall that I’ve been recently pondering what some of my favourite layer cakes would be like in cupcake form. This is mostly because we spend a lot of summer weekends away, and I find cupcakes are quick easy-to-grab treats for the gang & co. at the lake.

The thing is, I still want to share some of my favourite cake flavours and combinations, as well as switch things up, so rather than pack up the towering cakes, I thought cupcakes would be a fun change (not to say I won’t be packing up some highly inappropriate and overly dramatic cakes to the cottage this summer). I also find that I’m often left with extra cake batter, fillings, and frostings when I make the layer cakes, so why not use up every bit and create some cupcakes as a fun and mini addition to serving the cake itself? That way, the cupcakes can either be served that same day alongside the cake, or, after freezing the separate cake components, I can pull the tupperware containers of frostings and cupcakes from the freezer and flavour/assemble for a really quick (and hopefully impressive) treat for another day. That being said, I’m sure I don’t have to sell you on all of the fabulous reasons to make cupcakes!

Here is the mama version of these particular cupcakes from my previous post Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake with Ganache Drizzle, where I had fun creating this unusual rectangular dark chocolate layer cake covered and filled with Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream and topped with Dark Chocolate Ganache. For the cupcake version, I used my Rich & Dark Chocolate Cake recipe and topped it with raspberry buttercream swirls, and then poured some dark chocolate glaze over top. I didn’t add sprinkles this time, but you definitely could! I can’t think of a single occasion that isn’t enhanced by a good handful of sprinkles.

When I look at this cake, I can’t help but have painful flashbacks from the week I made it–I was cutting out sugar, and I vowed (to myself) that I wouldn’t indulge. I actually managed to avoid it and, with much agony, gave it all away without so much as eating a piece. But . . . this week I made these and it was sweet justice. I love raspberry & chocolate combination, and the generous swirls of satiny buttercream and drizzles of dark chocolate glaze were the highlight. The deep chocolate cupcake portion didn’t hurt either.

These are really so simple to make, especially if you happen to have any extra cake batter from your chocolate cake batches, as you can just pour remaining batter into standard cupcake liners and bake after your cakes are baked. If you keep Swiss Meringue Buttercream in the freezer, you’re even further ahead of the game–you pop some fresh raspberries into your Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream and mix for a moment or so to incorporate and add a bit of pink colour for punch (I got a bit pink-happy with these and next time I would use less for a softer pink, as I did in the cake version, so the raspberry bits stand out). The dark chocolate glaze  is very quick to whip up and adds a sort of ice-cream-sundae sort of feel and a nice hit of dark chocolate. The glaze is a quick process of melting the three ingredients (dark chocolate, butter, and corn syrup) over a pot of simmering water. It’s has such a great shine and deep chocolate flavour, but since it’s all about the chocolate in this type of recipe, I recommend you use a premium Belgian chocolate or similar. If you aren’t a fan of using corn syrup, you can definitely use ganache in place of the glaze; it creates an even more decadent treat with its heavy cream. These aren’t fussy, fancy, or difficult, but they pack some seriously decadent flavours and textures into such a little package. If you want to give these a try, here’s the recipe:

*Product notes: the Cacao Barry Extra Brute (my favourite) cocoa powder is what makes this chocolate cake recipe so incredible. You can purchase it here: Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark

Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze

Yield: 24 standard cupcakes, or two 9-inch round cakes

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 1-1/2 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) dark cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7 g) baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7 g) baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7 g) cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon (8 g) salt
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) brewed coffee or espresso, hot
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (95 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 5 large, fresh egg whites (150 g)
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 g) sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks)(340 g) butter, cut into cubes and cool, but not cold
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml)(or to taste) raspberry puree OR a handful (about 1 cup, or more to taste) of fresh, washed, and dried raspberries
  • pinch of salt
  • few drops pink food colouring (optional)
  • For the Glaze:
  • 4 oz (115 g) high quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or callets
  • 1/3 cup (76 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line a muffin/cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer), Divide batter among (2/3 full or just less) liners. Batter will be liquidy, and cupcakes will rise.
  5. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to over-bake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it's hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool.
  6. For the Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  7. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  8. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don't begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
  9. Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
  10. Add raspberry puree to taste or the fresh raspberries in small increments, and blend until combined. Add small amount of pink food colouring, if desired.
  11. For the Glaze:
  12. Place the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until melted and smooth. *Be careful to not get even a droplet of water into your bowl of chocolate and butter.
  13. Assembly of the Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Cupcakes:
  14. . Fill a large pastry bag (18") fitted with Ateco #887 (or the decorative tip of your choice) about 2/3 full and swirl the buttercream in a circular motion, beginning on the outside rim of the cupcake and moving inward. Gently release pressure when you reach the top of your swirl.
  15. Drizzle the top of the cupcake with Dark Chocolate Glaze (~1 tablespoon each).
  16. Top with a fresh raspberry and chocolate sprinkles (optional).
  17. Cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they are made, but these keep particularly well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days (however, I've been known to eat them up to a week later, and they taste great!). If you do refrigerate, serve at room temperature--particularly Swiss Meringue Buttercream cupcakes, otherwise the buttercream is too hard and butter-like.

Notes

*Essentially, this is vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream with some clean, dry, fresh raspberries into it. It doesn't require many raspberries to give it a nice flavour, but it's personal preference. You can also use seedless raspberry-puree for a smooth finish. Add a drop of pink food colouring for a touch more pink.

**Cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they are made, but these keep particularly well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days (however, I've been known to eat them up to a week later, and they taste great!).

***If you do refrigerate, serve at room temperature--particularly Swiss Meringue Buttercream cupcakes, otherwise the buttercream is too hard and butter-like.

[Glaze recipe source: Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented]

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Good luck & enjoy! I’ll see you soon with my 50th blog post!



 

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Mascarpone Meringue Cake

 Mascarpone Meringue Cake via Sweetapolita

A cake without any cake — now that’s some serious fun. This has got to be the most unusual cake I’ve ever made, but, please, if you love me . . . or if you’ve ever loved me . . . or if you think you could love me, please go make this recipe. Make it; eat it; share it; or just eat it all alone in the closet and don’t tell a soul. Whatever you do — please try this. Dramatic? Well, yes, I’ve been accused of such, but a liar? Not as far as I know, so trust me on this one. Grant and my father-in-law each ate some today and both claimed that this is a new favourite, and that it’s now, brace yourself, in their top 10 desserts of all time. I have to agree with them, because it’s simply that good; strange and unique, but out-of-this-galaxy good.

Mascarpone Meringue Cake via Sweetapolita

I was yearning to try something totally different than a classic, or even not-so-classic, layer cake — I wanted to put a toe or two outside my comfort zone, and this was a great way to go. I am a meringue lover, no question, and I love it in every form: freshly whipped, piped and baked, fluffed into buttercream, piled high and browned on pretty much any pie, and well, now as cake layers. For those of you who haven’t experienced the simple delightfulness of baked meringue, it tastes sweet and light, and becomes airy, crispy, and biscuit-like, but completely and utterly melts in your mouth.

As a cake layer in this dessert, you get 3 layers of this amazing taste and texture, sandwiching the fluffiest, creamiest, and most flavourful mascarpone/whipped cream/Creme de Cacao filling, and then, oh, and then, layers of rich, dark, truffle-textured chocolate ganache swirled in between it all. How could a dessert not be decadent with 2 cups of mascarpone? If you’re not familiar with it, mascarpone is an Italian triple-cream cheese that you can buy here in Canada in small containers, usually alongside the ricotta cheese. It is quite costly, though, but it’s richness and flavour are worth the price, in my opinion (if you’ve eaten Tiramisu, you’ve likely had mascarpone.). How did this cake come to be? Well, I came across a recipe from celebrated Canadian chef, Lucy Waverman, with this combination of ingredients, but structured as a rectangular dessert with paper thin layers. It was a recipe in the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) Food & Drink magazine from Holiday 1999 — a total hidden gem for recipes. Love it. Who knew going to the liquor store could inspire so many great desserts?

Mascarpone Meringue Cake via Sweetapolita

I just couldn’t resist building it layer-cake-style. For such a quirky and almost messy looking dessert, I love how clean it serves. Sounds funny, but it brought me a tremendous amount of joy to cut into it and see how easily it slices, and then how dry it leaves the doily. That may sound odd, but these things do matter to me, particularly when serving a dessert at a dinner table full of guests. I find people pay some serious attention to the unveiling of the inside of a dessert. It’s a funny observation, but I really have noticed this, so how something serves is all part of the appeal for me.

Mascarpone Meringue Cake via Sweetapolita

“Who me?  True, I do have ganache on my chin, but no, I have no idea how it got there.”

Sweetapolita

Something tells me that this is her celebratory “Woohoo! My mama’s a baking blogger!” giggle.

I mentioned in my last post that I’m cutting out the sugar for a bit, to prepare for bikini season, and of course to stay as healthy as possible, but after taking a test bite of this cake, I literally gave up dinner so I could eat the rest of the piece. A fact that I’m not sure I’m proud of, and I know I’m no role-model, but truthfully, it was completely worth it — this cake is like nothing I’ve ever eaten. Even though it’s far from German, I find it reminiscent of the cakes we used to serve at the authentic German bakery I used to work at when I was a teenager — the bakery that I hold personally responsible for my obsession with cake.

Mascarpone Meringue Cake via Sweetapolita

I hope you fall in love with this cake too, and what a fun change for Easter dinner, flourless Passover dessert, or even just for a unique option for anytime at all.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Mascarpone Meringue Cake

Ingredients

    For the Meringue Layers:
  • 12 egg whites (360 g), room temperature
  • 2-1/2 cups (500 g) granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • For the Ganache:
  • 18 oz (510 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream
  • For the Mascarpone Cream Filling
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whipping cream (35%)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Creme de Cacao (or other chocolate flavoured clear liqueur)
  • 2 cups (500 g) softened mascarpone cheese

Instructions

    For the Meringue Layers:
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an 8-inch round cake pan, trace three circles onto the parchment.
  2. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and some vinegar or lemon juice, to eliminate grease. Using whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt until foamy. Add sugar, slowly, and continue beating until it reaches glossy, stiff peaks.
  3. Using a small offset palette knife, spread an even layer (apprx 1.5" thick) of meringue over your each of the circle outlines. Bake for approximately 2.5 hours, or until dry and crisp, rotating pans every 20 minutes. Then leave in turned-off oven for another 60 minutes. *Depending on humidity in your kitchen and variance in ovens, this may take quite a bit longer to bake the meringue. You want to ensure that they are dry all the way through, so as long as they are not browning, you can keep baking them. Remove from oven and leave on tray in cool, dry area, until you are ready to use. Layers will likely have expanded slightly when baked. If you can only fit 2 baking sheets in your oven at once, you can bake the third one afterwards.
  4. For the Ganache:
  5. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat and bring just to a boil (watching very carefully).When the cream has come to a boil, swiftly remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute and then whisk until smooth.
  6. Allow it to cool until thick enough to spread, but loose enough that it will spread easily. To thicken, cover and place in refrigerator. To loosen chilled ganache, you can microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring after each one, or place in double boiler for a few moments.
  7. For the Mascarpone Cream Filling:
  8. In cold stainless steel mixing bowl and using the whisk attachment, whip the whipping cream with the sugar until thick. Add Creme de Cacao and whip again until it holds its shape. Place mascarpone cheese in a medium bowl, and fold in the whipped cream mixture.
  9. Assembly of Mascarpone Meringue Cake:
  10. Place first meringue layer on doily or cake round. With a small offset palette knife, spread 1/3 of mascarpone cream filling over layer. With a clean small offset palette knife, spread 1/3 of your ganache over cream.
  11. Repeat using remaining layers, finishing with ganache.
  12. Store cake in refrigerator. Cut using a sharp, non-serrated knife in a gentle sliding motion.
  13. This cake is best eaten within 1-2 days of being made.
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[Recipe adapted from Milliennium LCBO Food & Drink Magazine Holiday 1999, by Lucy Waverman]

Good luck & enjoy!



 

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Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake with Ganache Drizzle

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cake via Sweetapolita

I have a bit of a dilemma. Okay, I have a big, big dilemma: this cake is sitting 6′ away from me in the fridge right now, and I’m trying to resist it! You’d think I’d be used to sitting in arms’ reach of cake all day long, but sometimes, well, maybe often, it’s almost impossible not to sit down to the entire thing with a fork and just go to it. The thing is, as much as I joke about the amount of cake I eat, I also take a break from the sweets now and again, to make sure I stay healthy & fit. Sadly, now is one of those times! I did take a few bites, to makes sure it all tasted great, but that’s all.

For me, the joy is actually about baking and making the cakes, and usually the even bigger joy is watching someone else enjoy them. It kind of reminds of my fellow foodie sister-in-law, Mary. She also loves to bake, and when she trains for fitness competitions, she just carries on and keeps baking, knowing that she never will actually eat any of it. Pretty amazing, if you ask me, since that goes on for months and months; for me, it’s more of a one or two week cake-free situation, and then right back at it. So, why did I make a rectangular cake this time? Well, that I’m not completely sure about, besides the fact that I have a fascination with beautiful ice cream cakes, which often are built this same way. No, this isn’t an ice cream cake, and no, I’ve never eaten such an ice cream cake, but I love photos of lovely ones, and this is often their shape.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake via Sweetapolita
I began to wonder if a buttercream cake would taste even better that way. It really does get difficult to make a buttercream cake look unique, aside from getting too crazy on the inside of the cake, which I tend not to do. I love classic layers, and I love gorgeous fillings, so really, that means getting creative with combinations of the flavours, as well as scale, height, and, well, shape.

Aside from the ganache drizzle (which, oops, isn’t as smooth as it should be, so we’ll talk about that!), all the components of this cake are my trusty standbys: Swiss meringue buttercream, chocolate cake baked in a sheet pan (although I did use a slightly different chocolate cake recipe), and the newest addition, toasted marshmallow filling in place of the raspberry buttercream in the middle layer. To be honest, this cake really doesn’t necessarily need any marshmallow representation (amazing, though), but I happened to have some left from a cake I did the other day, and I thought it would be fun to use it to fill one of the layers. It really does work well, and it tastes so good together, but if you were to create this cake, you could most definitely just do all raspberry buttercream, or even just vanilla buttercream, or both. You could even alternate a whipped ganache filling and raspberry buttercream — trust me, there is no wrong answer here.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake via Sweetapolita

Do you think that this cake would taste even better because of its unusual shape, even though all of the parts are the same as some of my round cakes? I don’t know why, but I think it does. Slicing into this was so fun, and for some reason, I think square/rectangular dessert tastes better all around, actually. Is it just me, or when you were a kid, wasn’t it so exciting to have your ice cream sliced right out of the box (especially neapolitan!) and eat a big square piece of ice cream on a plate? That was the ultimate (is ice cream in the box just a Canadian thing?). Even ice cream sandwiches (speaking of which, I would give anything for one of those right now), cookies, marshmallows, cupcakes, and even pie — I just came across square pie in the city and loved it. Can you think of any others?

Chocolate Raspberry Cake via Sweetapolita

I’m not saying this idea is revolutionary, but I hadn’t done it before, and I was thinking this would be a unique way to serve a classic birthday cake, shower cake, or even wedding dessert table cake, or cakes. There are so many gorgeous rectangular platters out there, and you could even build an entire dessert table out of these cakes, all different lengths — am I getting carried away? Even so, this one really has presence (in my humble opinion) and of course you could build it any way you like, with any flavours, or more or less layers. I’ll write the full how-to below, but just to give you an idea of what I did was just bake the chocolate cake in a bakers’ half sheet (the same one I use for baking my cookies), and slice it into 4 even slices.

I started with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, added about few handfuls of fresh raspberries and some toasted marshmallow filling. Then I just built the cake as I would a round cake, but did it right onto the platter. Once it was all frosted, smoothed, and chilled, I made a ganache to drizzle over the top for a dramatic touch. I then threw on a handful of chocolate sprinkles and one fresh raspberry and trimmed the bottom with more chocolate sprinkles. I’m sorry to say that my ganache was a tiny bit bumpy, but, sadly, I didn’t realize that until after I drizzled it.

Well, I suppose that’s okay, because now we can talk a bit about that. Ganache, being just a simple (albeit incredibly decadent) pairing of heavy cream and chopped chocolate, does seem pretty easy, but I’ve learned that it can be sensitive. If you’ve never made it, don’t let that deter you, because it really isn’t difficult. I’ve done it successfully several times with a different ratio, but this time I wasn’t so lucky. It’s possible, in this case, my chocolate wasn’t chopped finely enough or that the cream was too hot; I wondered if that may happen.

To learn more about ganache and how to ensure a perfect result, you can check out this post on the Global Gourmet. I did find a recipe with a different ratio than my old recipe last night, and made a batch that worked beautifully, so just in case, I’ll include that version instead. You could also just make a chocolate glaze, if you’d prefer. Either way, it’s still gorgeous and yummy, but I’ll be sure to not let that happen again. It actually worked out for the best, because the new ganache recipe is even better, and now I can add that to my repertoire.

Here’s the recipe:

Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake with Ganache Drizzle

Yield: One 4-layer 13"L x 5"H x 4.5"W cake

Ingredients

    For the Sheet Cake:
  • 2-1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon (330 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (135 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder (or similar premium brand)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 g) baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) strong black coffee, hot
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Filling:
  • 8 large white marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup (63 g) icing sugar (confectioners' or powdered), sifted
  • 1/2 cup butter (113 g)(1 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 jar (107 g) marshmallow cream (such as Marshmallow Fluff)
  • For the Raspberry Buttercream:
  • 10 large, fresh egg whites
  • 2 1/2 cups (500 g) sugar
  • 3 cups (680 g) butter, cut into cubes and cool, but not cold
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml)(or to taste) raspberry puree OR a handful (about 1 cup, or more to taste) of fresh, washed, and dried raspberries
  • pinch of salt
  • few drops pink food colouring (optional)
  • For the Ganache:
  • 9 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Instructions

    For the Sheet Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat the bottom & edges of a commercial baking sheet (bakers half sheet 13 x 18 x 1) with butter then add a layer of parchment paper to the bottom. Dust it all with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.
  3. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Divide batter evenly among prepared pan. (Batter will be thin.)
  4. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pan. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 5 more minutes. Cool on wire rack in pan until completely cool.
  5. For the Filling:
  6. Place marshmallows on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place on lower rack of oven, and broil marshmallows until nice and brown on top, between 30-60 seconds. Remove pan from oven and gently turn the marshmallows over, and broil until they are golden brown. (Be sure to keep an eye on them--they burn very quickly.)
  7. In an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and icing sugar on low until blended, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and mix on med-high for about 3 minutes.
  8. Add marshmallow cream and toasted marshmallows, and mix on lowest setting for about 1 minute.
  9. For the Raspberry Buttercream:
  10. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  11. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don't begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
  12. Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
  13. Add raspberry puree to taste or the fresh raspberries in small increments, and blend until combined. Add small amount of pink food colouring, if desired.
  14. For the Ganache:
  15. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil (watching very carefully) then swiftly remove from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 1 minutes and then whisk until smooth.
  16. Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward.
  17. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.
  18. Assembly of the Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake:
  19. Chill sheet cake in freezer for 30 minutes, or refrigerator for several hours. The cake will be a bit sticky, but should not be soft and fragile. If so, place in freezer or refrigerator again until more firm.
  20. Using a sharp, serrated bread knife, cut the cake in half, then those halves in half--4 total. The pieces will be 11" long and about 4.5" wide.
  21. Place 1st layer face-up (on a platter, or whatever you choose to serve the cake on), and spread about 1/2" thick layer of buttercream on top. Repeat this step, adding any flavours of buttercream or filling you like, placing your final layer face down. Cover with plastic wrap loosely, and chill for about 15 minutes in freezer or 30 minutes in refrigerator.
  22. Crumb Coat Coat cake with thin layer of buttercream using a small offset spatula for the top and a straight offset spatula for the sides--if you have a metal bench scraper, you can run along cake to get smooth finish and to achieve sharp corners. Always start at the top of the cake, working your way down. Chill cake for about 30 minutes, or pop back in freezer for 10-15 more minutes to set buttercream. This is a good time to wash and dry your spatulas and bench scraper for the top layer of buttercream application.
  23. Using your clean tools, add a thick layer of buttercream on the top of the cake, working it over the edges and then finish the sides. Be very generous with your buttercream, because you will be scraping most of it off with the scraper. It just makes it so much easier to get the smooth finish. Chill the cake for as long as you need, but at least 15 minutes to set the buttercream.
  24. Drizzle your warm (but not hot) ganache over the top of your very chilled cake so it seeps down the sides. Be careful not to use too much, or you will lose your pink cake underneath! You can use your clean small offset metal spatula to smooth it over the top. Chill to set.
  25. Add any topping you like or none at all. I sprinkled chocolate jimmies on top, and added one single fresh raspberry.
  26. Get creative!
  27. Keep refrigerated, but serve room temperature. Leave out of refrigerator for about 2 hours prior to serving. Keeps up to 3 days in an airtight container, although, I've been known to eat it past that and it was still great.

Notes

*The filling recipe is enough to fill the middle layer of this cake.

**For the Raspberry Buttercream, add about a 1/2 pint of fresh washed & dried raspberries if you like the textured effect, or raspberry puree for a smooth finish. *Be sure to add the raspberries right before you are to frost the cake, otherwise, if you store in refrigerator overnight, the moisture of the berries will turn your buttercream into an icky mess.

***You can also add a drop or 2 of pink gel colour to get a pinker look.

****Keep in Raspberry Buttercream in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes. You can freeze for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, place on counter overnight, and rewhip for 5 minutes with paddle attachment in an electric mixer.

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Good luck & enjoy!



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