First, you break all the rules...

So, the conversation kind of went like this...

"Hey, what kind of cake do you want for your birthday?"

"Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting."

I am sure I didn't hear that correctly.  "What?????"

"You heard me, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting". 

Air deflates, shoulders slump.  "But, but, but..."

Exit, stage left. 

First of all, please don't get me wrong.  I like chocolate cake.  I like chocolate frosting.  But together, well... it's kind of boring.  I am sure at this point, many people would have left well enough alone and just made a plain jane chocolate cake with the chocolate frosting on top as requested.  But, I am never one to leave well enough alone.  Besides - in my mind, I knew best. 

Think, think, think, think.  What't a girl to do.  Wait.  Hold on a minute.  Earth to Cher.  HELLOOOO.... No one said anything about the filling between the layers, right?  No one said I couldn't add flavors to the cake, right? And I know I didn't hear anything about what I could soak the layers with... (diabolical laughter gets louder and louder).   MWAH HA HA HA.  It was genius.  I was about to take a trek into the dark side - ok, no one said it was a long journey.  My accomplice was already sitting in the freezer waiting for me break 'em free. 

RASPBERRIES!  What goes better with chocolate than raspberries???  I was going to "have my cake and eat it to" on this one.  Yep, my mama didn't raise no dummies. 

There wasn't going to be any chance for a test run on this one.  So I had to get it right the first time or game over. 

So, I did what any rebellious baker chick would do and reached for my faithful Companion (The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, that is...).  Hey, when you going on an improvising journey you might as well start with recipes that you know are going to work. 
Ah, one Devil's Food Cake Recipe... Check.   Improvisations?  Check, check, check.  (Raspberry extract, espresso powder, Chambord soak).
One recipe of Pastry Cream.  Check.  Improvisation with pureed raspberries.  Check. 
See? Chocolate cake.  You'll have to trust me on the Chocolate Buttercream (which of course also had rasberry snuck in - yeah, man.  I was like a teen sneaking into a movie on that one).  But the choco-cream was there.  Camera custody issues got in the way of a picture of the finished product.   Raspberry garnish all around. 
The end results?  Someone got their choco-choco fix.  I got my "not boring old chocolate" fix.  And everyone ended up with a sweet treat to eat!  I think the comment from the birthday boy went something like this: "I never should have doubted you."  Well, duh!
What is the lesson learned here, kiddies?  Uh, the person baking the cake knows best, of course!  (At least I like to think so). 

Recipe for Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake - Adapted with love, by Cher, from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion

Devil's Food Cake

12 Tbs Butter
1 3/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract + 1 tsp raspberry extract
2 cups unbleached a/p flour
3/4 cup cocoa flour
1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease & flour 3 8-inch cake pans (parchment on the bottom & moistened cake strips applied to the outside of the pan help) and set aside. 

Cream together butter, sugar, salt, baking soda and extracts until light & fluffy - about five minutes (either in stand mixer or large bowl using beaters).  In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa and espresso powder. 

Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time - beating each well into the mixture.  Add flour mixture, then milk into the creamed mixture in one-third increments.  (Make sure to scrape down bowl between additions). 

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes - until tester comes clean & sides of cake begin to pull away from the pan.  Remove from oven.  Cool in pans for ~10 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to complete cooling.  If desired (and why wouldn't you desire?), soak layers in Chambord or other raspberry flavored liquor. 

Pastry Cream (Raspberry style)

3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar (recipe calls for half cup, I like to up it to 2/3)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla + 1 tsp raspberry extract
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbs unbleached a/p flour
4 large egg yolks
4 Tbs butter
1/2 cup heavy cream -- whipped to soft peaks
1 cup frozen raspberries, pureed

In a medium sauce pan, stir together 2.5 cups of milk, sugar & salt.  Bring to a boil over meduim heat. 

While mixture is heating, whisk together cornstarch, flour and egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup milk. 

Whisk some of the boiling mixture into the egg mixture to temper it (no one wants cooked eggs here, people!).  Pour this mixture back into the hot mixture and bring to a boil - stirring constantly.  Boil for ~30 seconds.  Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve (into a clean dish) to get rid of any clumps.  Add butter and extracts.  Rub a piece of butter over the top, cover top of cream with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool. 

To complete, fold in pureed berries and whipped heavy cream into mixture. 

 Easy Chocolate Buttercream

1/2 cup (3 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
4 Tbs butter
1/8 tsp salt
5 cups confectionary sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla + 1 tsp raspberry extract
6 Tbs (or more) milk or cream

Melt chocolate (either in double boiler over hot water or in microwave using 15 second heating spurts) about 3/4 of the way.  Remove from heat source and stir until smooth.  Cool to "almost room temperature".

In a large bowl (or using stand mixer), beat together flour and salt until fluffy.  Add ~1/2 of the conf. sugar & espresso powder and beat until well-blended.  Add extract and half the milk and beat until fluffy.  Add chocolate and mix thoroughly (scraping down bowl as you go).  Alternately, add remaining sugar and milk until they are well-blended.  Beat entire mixture until light and fluffy.  Adjust consistency by adding either more sugar or milk as needed. 

To complete, layer chocolate cakes with pastry cream in between each layer.  Frost with buttercream.  Garnish with raspberries if desired.  (Like, I have been saying - who wouldn't desire).  Refrigerate to set cake.  Enjoy!

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