A Cake For My Joe: Chocolate Raspberry Vanilla Buttercream With Chocolate Drip

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


My sweetie requested only one thing for his birthday--- no grand gifts, no big parties... He just wanted cake. He didn't have anything more specific than CHOCOLATE as his request.... He just wanted CAKE.


I pondered cake for a few weeks. Slowly, the ideas came together. First, I saw this wedding cake on Pinterest. Very cool and kinda manly with its chocolate drip effect. I knew I'd be using a Cake Doctor recipe for the chocolate cake--- altered cake mix, so it's not fully from scratch, but also more dense and good than the basic box mix--- and I also knew I'd be using my mom's buttercream for the main frosting. Adding a chocolate drip on top didn't seem too hard, so I had the basics worked out.

I didn't need to do a tiered cake like the wedding cake-- but I did want a layer cake. I decided on 9" rounds, and after reading one recipe where the girl split her 9" cakes into two thinner cakes, making four thin layers, I decided to do that. Next, I needed to ponder what would fill the layers. Joe LOVES raspberry and chocolate together, so I decided first to do raspberry pie filling between the layers. But the more I pondered that, the more boring it seemed. What about a MOUSSE? Yum!


So this chocolate layer cake became a raspberry-filled, buttercream-topped, chocolate-dripped layer cake idea. And I had my plan. I compiled some recipes to get all the pieces together, and over the course of a few days, I made this craziness happen. There was a LOT of mixing... and I do NOT have a gorgeous stand mixer like many folks do (though I dream one day of a yellow or aqua Kitchenaid on my countertop). So my hand mixer got a LOT of action, and those poor beaters got washed and rewashed a LOT to be used again and again. And after all was said and done, I'll say this-- this cake is not for the faint-of-heart, or for someone wanting a quick and tasty treat. It took time. And effort. And LOTS of love. But I am thrilled with how it turned out. And that thrill was quintupled by the reaction from the recipient... My sweet Joe, whose jaw dropped in just the right way and whose compliments were just the right words.... And I knew I'd hit a home run for my hubs on his birthday.

And that's what counts. :)

So. For anyone who feels the need to replicate this insanity, I have compiled ALL the separate recipes that go into creating this and have thereby made my OWN recipe, free for the trying. Presenting:

Joe's Chocolate Raspberry Vanilla Buttercream Layer Cake with Chocolate Drip


Shopping List
Cake: Devil's Food Cake mix, instant chocolate pudding mix, sour cream, vegetable oil, eggs
Buttercream Frosting: butter, vegetable shortening, milk, vanilla, powdered sugar
Raspberry Mousse: unflavored gelatin, raspberries (fresh or frozen), granulated sugar, eggs, heavy cream
Chocolate Frosting: Baker's semisweet chocolate squares or semisweet chocolate chips, heavy cream, butter, powdered sugar

Step One: Bake the cake. You can freeze this cake for later, so it's okay to make this in advance when you have some time.

Darn Good Chocolate Cake (from recipe here) 

1 (18 1/4 ounce) package devil's food cake mix
1 (4 ounce) box instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour and tap out the excess; set pans aside.

Place the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, water, oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On medium low speed, continue to blend for 2-3 minutes more. The batter will be very thick and should look well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans and smooth it out.

Bake for 27-32 minutes (I started checking the cakes at 25 minutes-- it was like gooey chocolate pudding-- then 3 minutes later it was perfect. Another couple of minutes and I think it would have been dry, so keep an eye on your cakes.)

Allow to cool in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edges on the cakes pans and carefully remove cake by inverting it; allow to cool for 20 minutes more on the wire rack right side up. When the cake layers are completely cool, cut layers in half.

Step Two: make the vanilla buttercream frosting. This also keeps well in the fridge, so you can make this in advance, too. 

Mom's Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter/margarine (2 sticks)
1 cup shortening
1/4 C. milk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 lb. bag powdered sugar

Cream the butter and shortening together. Add the milk and vanilla and mix. Slowly add the bag of powdered sugar a little at a time until the frosting is fully blended. It should be stiff and not runny, so don't be tempted to add more milk unless absolutely necessary. 

Step Three: Make the raspberry mousse. This recipe calls for blackberries, but fresh or frozen raspberries work just as well. I was a bit nervous that this mousse wouldn't store well when I was preparing everything, but it turns out it did very well hanging out in the fridge til I was ready to use it. Still, I recommend making it the day you assemble your cake so it is in premium condition.

  Blackberry Mousse (I subbed raspberries)

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup blackberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg white
3/4 cup heavy cream

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1 tablespoon of the water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. In a blender, puree the blackberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Strain the blackberry puree into a small saucepan; there should be about 3/4 cup. Add the sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer the blackberry mixture over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in the softened gelatin until dissolved. Let the mixture cool.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg white until firm peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cooled berry puree until no streaks of white remain. In another bowl, beat the heavy cream until softly whipped. Fold the whipped cream into the berry mixture and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. 

Step Four: Prepare your cake base. You can use a cake platter or a foil-covered cardboard circle like I did. Place a blop of buttercream on the bottom and spread it a bit. This is the "glue" that will anchor your first layer to the bottom. Place your first layer of cake down and center it.

Step Five: Make the chocolate frosting. This will happen right when you are ready to assemble and decorate your cake, since it is a cooked frosting.

"Perfect" Chocolate Frosting (from recipe here)

6 oz. semisweet chocolate (either 1/2 bag of chocolate chips or 6 squares of Baker's Chocolate)
1/2 C. heavy cream
1 C. butter, cut into tablespoon size
2 1/2 C. sifted powdered sugar 

Place a large bowl, filled halfway with ice, in the sink (a bowl that is large enough to hold the pot that you will cook the frosting in). In a medium size pot over medium low heat, melt chocolate, cream, and butter.Stirring constantly, cook the mixture until all of the butter and chocolate melts and thickens.Cook for 5-6 minutes. DO NOT LET BOIL.

Remove pot from heat. Whisk in the sifted confectioners' sugar until mixture becomes smooth (approximately 1 minute), then put the pot on top of the bowl of ice (be careful to not allow any ice from the larger bowl to get into pot with the chocolate mixture).

Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 4-5 minutes until frosting becomes smooth, thick, and fudgy. Remove from ice. It is ready to use now. 

 Step Six: Pour enough of the chocolate frosting onto the first layer of cake to spread it and cover the layer. Don't let it drip down the sides. 

Step Seven: Place layer two of cake atop the chocolate. 

Step Eight: Get your raspberry mousse and spread a thick layer of it all over the top of layer 2. Add layer three of cake atop the mousse. Don't let it come out the sides too much-- clean up as necessary. 

Step Nine: pour more chocolate frosting onto the new layer, as before. Place the last layer of cake on top. 

Step Ten: using about 1/3 of your buttercream in a separate bowl(we're trying to keep crumb contamination to a minimum!), do a "crumb coat" on the entire layer cake. This is a thin layer of frosting that covers the entire cake, used to seal in the crumbs of the cake. 

Step Eleven: Place cake in freezer for about 15-30 minutes to get everything nice and solid and the crumb coat really firm. 

Step Twelve: Bring the cake back out and frost the entire cake with the last 2/3rds of the icing. Spread it thick to avoid pulling dark cake crumbs into the top layer. Smooth it as much as you'd like. If you want, pipe a border on the bottom of the cake (I did a "dot/pearl" border.)

Step Thirteen: Chocolate Drip time! You'll now need to reheat the chocolate frosting. The frosting thickens as it sets up, and also becomes hard to spread or pour as it cools. To get it back to pouring consistency, put back on LOW heat and stir constantly until you get the spreading consistency desired. Be patient! 

Step Fourteen: Carefully and slowly pour the frosting onto the top of the cake. Keep it confined to the top as you pour, then set the pot down and nudge the chocolate towards the sides of the cake with a spatula. Let it drip down the sides naturally-- don't "fake" the drips. If there doesn't seem to be enough chocolate to drip, pour more on the TOP of the cake, near the center. The outside edge will spread outward from that. go slow if you want to keep the drips under control. OR, if you just like the idea of a big mass of yummy chocolate on the top, pour at your leisure and let it fall where it may... it'll still taste marvelous without the pretty drip effect!

Step Fifteen: Top with fresh raspberries if desired, then put it in the fridge til you're ready to serve it. 



Aaaaand seeing how between baby meltdowns, mama meltdowns, and toddler potty-training, this post has taken three days to write/compile/proofread/format, I'd better just get it posted and move on. So no pretty conclusions or deep thoughts about anything.... Just.... Enjoy the cake idea, and go get something done on YOUR to-do list! I am hopelessly behind and have a few things I'm off to go do myself. Toodles!!


  1. word....YUM!!!!! Excellent job! Joe is one lucky man. ;)

  2. Such Yumminess! I'm pinning it!

  3. I would have been a bit worried if Joe *didn't* act stunned at such a creation- not because you are not capable (clearly you are), but simply because it is a stunning creation- beautiful to look at, and I can only imagine how amazing to taste. Of course, some day, I won't just have to imagine how amazing it is to taste- I definitely think this is one to try to make myself someday! :)

  4. My birthday is February 22. Just sayin'.

  5. Oh my word!!!!!!! This is beautiful!! It must've tasted amazing!!!!


  6. Oh my word! This looks and sounds so scrumptious! Will you make me one for my birthday. It's not until March, so you have time. ;) lol1

  7. My sister's favorite was the Chocolate Cake that she got from one of her friends. She always talks about it whenever we meet! I’m definitely making this! thanks for sharing!


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