Red Raspberry Almond and Chocolate Passion Cake
3/4 lb. butter
2 T. butter, melted
3 C. cake flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 C. granulated sugar
1 1/2 C. toasted sliced almonds, finely chopped
5 lg. eggs
2 t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla extract
1 C. sour cream
1 C. hot water
Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly coat the insides of 2 9″ cake pans with melted butter. Line each pan with parchment paper, then lightly coat again. If you grease and flour instead, be sure to do it heavily.
Combine flour, soda and salt in a sifter. Sift together onto waxed paper and set aside.
Place 3/4 lb. butter and 2 C. granulated sugar in bowl of electric mixer. Beat on low for 3 minutes, then on medium for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl frequently. Add the chopped almonds and beat for an additional 30 seconds. Add eggs one at a time, beating 30 seconds and scraping down bowl after each addition.
Add almond extract and vanilla extract and beat on high for 2 more minutes. Reduce speed to low and add half of the sifted dry ingredients and allow to mix for 15 seconds. Add 1/2 C. sour cream, then the remaining dry ingredients, then the remaining sour cream, mixing for 30 seconds after each addition.
Add hot water and mix for 15 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat for an additional 20 seconds before removing bowl from mixer. Use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the batter until it is smooth and thoroughly combined.
Immediately divide the batter between the prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake on the center rack in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in the pans for 15 minutes at room temperature. Invert onto cooling racks and remove parchment paper (if used). Allow to cool for an additional 30 minutes.
Turn the cakes over and trim off just enough of the top to create a level surface. Then slice each cake into 2 horizontal layers, creating 4 layers. Refrigerate uncovered while preparing raspberry crush.
In a food processor or blender, combine 16 oz. frozen red raspberries, 2 T. granulated sugar and 1 tsp. lemon juice. Process
until smooth. Strain through a sieve and discard rough pulp and seeds. You should have about 1 1/2 c. of raspberry crush.
Spread cooled cake layers with 3-4 T. of raspberry crush. Do not use more, as cake will become soggy and difficult to handle. Return cakes to refrigerator while you prepare the Chocolate Almond Buttercream.
Chocolate Almond Buttercream
6 oz. semisweet chocolate (1/2 oz. pieces)
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate (1/2 oz. pieces)
1 lb. unsalted butter cut into 1 oz. pieces
2 t. almond extract
4 lg. egg whites
1 C. granulated sugar
Heat 1″ of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place all chocolate in top half. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 8-10 minutes. When melted, stir until smooth and transfer to small bowl.
Place butter pieces in large bowl of mixer. Beat on low for 2 minutes, then on medium for 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, then beat on high until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add almond extract and beat for 1 minute. Remove about 1/4 of the butter and whisk it into the chocolate, incorporating thoroughly. Add the chocolate/butter mixture to the rest of the butter and beat on medium until they are thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on high 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
Heat water in double boiler again. Place egg whites and granulated sugar in top and gently whisk until temperature reaches 120 degrees. Transfer to mixing bowl and beat (with a balloon whip for maximum fullness) until stiff peaks form. Use a rubber spatula to combine chocolate/butter mixture with egg white/sugar mixture.
Assembling The Cake
Place one layer of the cake, raspberry side up, on serving plate. Cover with 3/4 C. of buttercream. Repeat with 2 more layers. With the final layer, invert it raspberry side down. Cover top and sides of cake with most of the remaining buttercream. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the remaining buttercream. Pipe stars over the top of the cake, working from the outside edge to the center. Garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired.
Place a pool (about 1 T.) of the raspberry crush on a dessert plate. Heat the blade of a serrated knife under hot running water and wipe dry before making each slice. Allow to stand for 15 minutes before
serving and eating.