Yield: At least 16 servings
Tips: A cake baked in a 13- by 9-inch pan is cut in half
the long way, then each half is split horizontally. The four
layers are sprinkled with a bit of black raspberry liqueur (optional,
but good), then sandwiched and frosted with white chocolate
whipped cream. The long sides and top are then covered with
chocolate shavings. This is a big cake that looks like a party.
You'll need a serving platter or board at least 14 inches long
by about 6 inches wide; the platter should not be black, as
the dark chocolate shavings won't allow for much color contrast
if it is. The finished cake must be stored in the refrigerator,
but it will keep for at least 3 days, if stored airtight; leftovers
can be frozen (defrost in the refrigerator, still in wrappings),
but I don't think they're quite as good after freezing.
1/4 cups sifted cake flour
cup nonalkalized (non-Dutch process) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
teaspoon baking powder
cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
eggs, graded "large"
1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup black raspberry or other liqueur (see Notes)
White Chocolate Whipped Cream
1/2 ounces best-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
cup plus 1 3/4 cups heavy cream, divided
Dark Chocolate Shavings
5 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, shaved with a
vegetable peeler (see Notes)
For the Cake: Adjust rack one-third up from bottom of oven;
preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a 13- by 9- by 2-inch pan with
solid vegetable shortening. Line the bottom with a rectangle
of wax paper cut to fit, grease the paper, and dust the entire
inside of the pan lightly with flour, knocking out any excess.
Set pan aside. Sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking
soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In large bowl of electric mixer, cream softened butter, sugar
and vanilla at medium speed for three minutes, stopping mixer
once halfway through to scrape down bowl and beater(s). At a
low speed, add eggs, one at a time, beating after each until
incorporated. When all eggs have been added, scrape bowl and
beater(s), then beat at medium speed for one minute. Batter
may look curdled--OK.
At lowest speed, add sifted dry ingredients in thirds and buttermilk
(gradually) in halves, beginning and ending with dry ingredients
and beating after each addition just until incorporated. Scrape
bowl and beater(s) as necessary for thorough blending. You may
need to increase the speed very slightly to get all of the ingredients
blended in. This batter often looks curdled when it is completed--unusual,
I know, but it will bake fine.
Turn batter into prepared pan. Spread level, then run batter
slightly higher up edges of pan and into corners. Bake in preheated
oven 28 to 33 minutes, switching from back-to-front about halfway
through baking time. Cake is done when toothpick inserted in
center emerges with only a few moist crumbs still clinging to
it. Do not over bake.
Cool cake on cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Gently loosen
edges of cake from pan; invert onto cooling rack. Remove pan
and gently peel wax paper from bottom of cake. Re-invert to
cool right side up. Cool completely before frosting.
Before starting the frosting, have ready your serving platter
and the chocolate shavings.
For the Frosting: Chill a large bowl and beater(s) from a sturdy,
hand-held electric mixer. Place finely chopped chocolate in
medium heatproof bowl. In small saucepan over low heat, heat
2/3 cup cream (reserve remainder) until very hot, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat. Pour about half of the hot cream over chocolate.
Allow to stand for a minute or two, then stir or whisk gently
until smooth. If necessary, place over warm water on low heat;
stir often just until melted and smooth, then remove from heat
and hot water. Stir or whisk in remaining hot cream. Note: White
chocolate can be stubborn about melting. If yours has tiny lumps
in it, turn it into the work bowl of a food processor fitted
with a steel blade, and process briefly just until smooth (you
can also smooth it out with an immersion blender).
Cool the white chocolate mixture completely, whisking or stirring
occasionally, until it is at room temperature. If it is at all
warm when added to the remaining cream, it will deflate it.
If you wish to speed the cooling process, you can place the
white chocolate mixture in the refrigerator--do not forget about
it! Check it frequently, and whisk it often. Alternatively,
you can place it in a larger, shallower pan half full of ice
and water. Again, check it frequently and whisk it often; do
not allow it to set up. Meanwhile, using a large, sharp, serrated
knife, trim the top of the cooled cake so it is flat (if necessary).
Split the cake in half the long way (this will give you two
rectangles, each about 13 inches long by 4 1/2 inches wide).
Split each rectangle in half horizontally, to make four thin
layers in total. Carefully place one thin layer, cut side up,
on the serving platter (these thin layers are fragile, but if
they break they can be patched together with frosting). Drizzle
or spray about one-quarter of the optional liqueur on the top
surface of this thin layer. Cover this layer, then cover the
other three thin layers so that nothing dries out.
When the white chocolate mixture has cooled completely (test
a bit on the inside of your wrist to be sure), you can proceed.
Place the reserved 1 3/4 cups heavy cream into the chilled large
bowl. Beat at high speed just until you can see traces of beater
marks in the cream. All at once, add the cooled white chocolate,
then beat at high speed to stiff peaks. Do not over beat, or
the cream will become grainy. If your cream reaches stiff peaks
before the white chocolate has been incorporated completely,
don't worry; just fold the white chocolate in gently with a
large rubber spatula. The white chocolate whipped cream will
stiffen somewhat as it chills.
Frost the thin layer on the serving platter with the white chocolate
whipped cream, then carefully place another thin layer on top
of that. Drizzle or spray another quarter or so of the liqueur
on top of this second thin layer, then frost the top of it (do
not use too much frosting in between the layers, or you won't
have enough for the top and sides). Repeat the procedure until
all four layers are stacked, and the top layer has been drizzled/sprayed
with the last of the liqueur.
If necessary, press very gently on the top of the cake to even
it. Also, if required, use both hands to very gently straighten
the sides of the cake as much as possible. Now, frost the long
sides with a thin layer of frosting (that will seal in any crumbs),
then apply a more generous layer of frosting. Do not frost the
short ends. Finally, frost the top.
Take a small amount of chocolate shavings on the fingers of
one slightly cupped hand; press them gently into the frosted
sides of the cake. Some will fall onto the serving platter--OK.
Just pick them up and re-apply them. Repeat this procedure until
the long sides and the top are covered with chocolate shavings.
The short ends will look messy--OK, as they'll be trimmed later.
With a damp paper towel, wipe off the serving platter around
the completed cake.
Carefully pick up the serving platter (the cake will be heavy)
and transfer it to the refrigerator. Chill for about two hours,
then remove from refrigerator. If necessary, use both hands
to gently straighten the cake sides again. Using a large, very
sharp knife, trim about one-half to three-quarters of an inch
from each short end. Carefully cover the cake with plastic wrap.
Return to refrigerator for at least two more hours before serving.
To serve, cut slices with the large, sharp knife. Make the slices
on the thin side; this is rich! Refrigerate any leftovers, covered,
for up to three days or freeze.
--Regarding the liqueur, you have a lot of choices. Just make
sure you use a flavor that goes well with chocolate. I drizzle
on the liqueur with a spoon, but it seems to me that one of
those olive oil sprayers (I think they're called "Misto") would
work really well here, provided you used one that was new and
kept it just for spraying liqueurs. If you use a sprayer, you'll
probably need less than 1/4 cup of liqueur.
--For the chocolate shavings, I use a large block/bar of semisweet
chocolate. I fold a paper towel into quarters, and I hold the
chocolate with that, which protects it slightly from the heat
of my hand. Draw a vegetable peeler straight down an edge of
the bar. If the bar or the room is warm, you may get chocolate
curls, which look beautiful; otherwise, you'll likely get chocolate
shavings, which will work perfectly well and are far less trouble.
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