How to make it

  • --- Cake:
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans with discs of waxed paper cut to fit. Lightly butter the sides of the pans.
  • Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  • Heat milk until hot but not boiling. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Add melted butter, vanilla and vinegar and stir together. Stir or whisk in dry ingredients until well blended.
  • Pour even amounts into 3 prepared pans and bake 15 minutes or until a wooden pick in center comes out clean.
  • Cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and remove from pans by turning upside down on wire racks. Carefully peel off waxed paper, pulling toward the center to avoid tearing. Allow to cool completely.
  • --- Make the mousse filling while the layers are cooling:
  • Sprinkle gelatin over 1 Tbsp cold water in a small bowl and let soften for a minute. Then add the 2 Tbsp boiling water and stir until completely dissolved.
  • Stir together sugar and coca powder in a medium bowl. A deep bowl is better than a shallow one. Add the whipping cream and vanilla and beat with a mixer until stiff. Pour in gelatin and beat a little more until blended. Refrigerate 20 minutes.
  • --- Make the ganache topping while the mousse is cooling:
  • Heat the whipping cream over low heat (or nuke) until hot. Put the dark cocoa powder in a small bowl and pour a little of the hot whipping cream on it. Stir to make a slurry until completely dissolved, then add the rest of the whipping cream. Stir in the chocolate chips until no more lumps, heating gently if necessary. Refrigerate about 20 minutes until it is pourable but not runny.
  • --- Assembly
  • By now the cake layers should be cooled. Place a layer on the serving plate, crumb side up (the side the waxed paper was on). Spread on half the preserves, then spread half the mousse in a nice thick layer, stopping about half an inch from the edge. Add the second cake layer and repeat. Put the third layer on top, crumb side down. Ideally the weight of the layers should make the mousse skooge out a little beyond the cake.
  • Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, starting in the center and spiraling out toward the edge. Let it puddle out slowly. The goal is to have it stop just at the edges. Add a little here and there so it runs thickly down the sides in a few spots. You don't want to cover the sides completely; leave most of the mousse exposed (see photo).
  • Top with fresh raspberries or dust with a little light-colored cocoa powder, or both.
  • Seems like this cake should be hard to make but it really isn't. I've made it six or seven times and everything just magically works every time. Since you're doing things during the cooling times, it takes about an hour and a half from start to finish. I have doubled this recipe for a 10-inch cake and tripled it for a 12-incher. The only difficulty I've ever had with it was handling the 12-inch layers without breaking them, because they're somewhat thin and not as durable in that size as say a sponge cake would be.

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