There’s so much to love about this ultra-rich chocolate raspberry cake. Layers of moist dark chocolate sponge, silky chocolate buttercream, and homemade raspberry cake filling are enrobed in a luxurious chocolate raspberry ganache. This is an indulgent dessert for anyone who loves the flavor combination of raspberries paired with deep, dark chocolate.
Consider this the fruity sequel to chocolate peanut butter cake. 🙂
Here’s What You’ll Love About This Chocolate Raspberry Cake
- Cake crumb is fudge-like and moist, yet a little light and spongey, with extra texture from the mini chocolate chips
- Beautiful balance of rich flavors between the tart, juicy raspberry filling, sweet chocolate buttercream, and dark chocolate ganache
- Homemade raspberry filling uses frozen raspberries (very convenient!) and takes just 15 minutes to make (plus cooling)
- Enjoy extra-luxe raspberry flavor in the chocolate ganache topping by replacing some of the cream with raspberry liqueur (optional)
Just look at this beauty:
4 Parts to This Chocolate Raspberry Cake
There’s a lot going on today, so let’s break down each component of this unapologetically indulgent cake:
- Raspberry Filling: This sweet-tart jammy raspberry cake filling comes together quickly and easily on the stove. It needs to cool completely before spreading onto the cake layers, so my instructions direct you to make this first.
- Dark Chocolate Cake: We’re using the same deeply chocolate-y cake batter as this dark chocolate peanut butter cake. You’ll love the additional texture from mini chocolate chips in the batter—have you tried it before?
- Chocolate Frosting: Slather on a layer of chocolate buttercream frosting between each cake layer, and use it to apply a crumb coat to the exterior of the cake. You’ll also need a piping bag + large round tip to pipe a border around the edge of the layers. The chocolate buttercream is here not only for taste, but serves a pretty important function: a buttercream “dam” helps hold the raspberry filling in place.
- Chocolate Raspberry Ganache: Top the whole cake with dark chocolate ganache. If desired, you can replace some of the cream with raspberry liqueur (such as Chambord) to make a chocolate raspberry ganache (or keep it just chocolate). Taste testers loved it both ways.
Make the Raspberry Filling First
The filling takes about 15 minutes to prep, then needs to cool, chill, and thicken completely. I recommend making it in advance and storing it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble the chocolate raspberry cake. I have a complete separate page dedicated to this wonderful raspberry cake filling if you want more ideas for its uses.
We’re using frozen raspberries for this filling (just like raspberry sweet rolls), which I love because it means this cake can be made year round! You can also use fresh berries. You need 12 ounces (about 340–375g). Here are the other ingredients you need to make it:
- Water & Cornstarch: Cornstarch is the magic thickener for this raspberry filling. You don’t need much, but you must dissolve it in a little water before using. This is called a “slurry”; see strawberry sauce as an example.
- Sugar: The raspberry filling should be a little tart, because you’ll pair it with sweet chocolate buttercream frosting.
- Lemon Juice: The filling needs *something* to balance the berry and sugar, and lemon juice provides that hint of freshness. Do not leave it out or the filling will taste pretty flat.
- Vanilla Extract: Add a little splash of vanilla extract to the filling once it comes off the heat. It tastes and smells incredible!
Make this first, so it has plenty of time to chill and thicken:
A Very Chocolate-y Chocolate Cake
You need a handful of basic baking ingredients for the cake batter. The acidity in both sour cream and buttermilk is a must to provide proper leavening. (If desired, see baking powder vs baking soda for more information.) A touch of espresso powder and hot coffee further enhances the chocolate flavor. The cake will not taste like coffee—rather, these add depth to the cake’s dark chocolate flavor. Feel free to skip the espresso powder and replace hot coffee with hot water or use decaf.
- Why hot liquid? The hot liquid encourages the cocoa powder to bloom and dissolve.
Chocolate chips take the chocolate flavor to the next level, and, as I mentioned above, they also supply phenomenal texture. I use mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, but regular size are fine too. Toss them in a little flour before folding into the batter, to help keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
Favorite Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
We’re using my favorite chocolate buttercream in this cake, so you know it’s going to be good! This creamy chocolate frosting is sweet, silky smooth, and easy to work with.
You need enough frosting to spread on the bottom 2 cake layers before topping with the raspberry filling, and to pipe a “dam” around the edges of those layers to keep the raspberry filling in place, as well as for a thin crumb coat on the exterior of the cake. The recipe below, also found on my chocolate buttercream page, makes just the amount we need for everything.
Is your chocolate buttercream lighter in color than you want? See my tried-and-true trick for darkening it above the chocolate buttercream recipe (heat some of it!).
Do you enjoy chocolate mousse instead? Swap the buttercream for the chocolate mousse filling from my chocolate mousse cake.
Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Topping
You can absolutely make a classic 2-ingredient chocolate ganache, or you can swap out some of the heavy cream for raspberry liqueur, which gives this sophisticated cake that *little something extra.*
Typically, for making chocolate ganache, you need 8 ounces (weight) chocolate and 8 ounces (volume) heavy cream. (Increase/decrease each for more/less.) For topping this chocolate raspberry cake, I used 2 baking bars (that’s 8 ounces/226g) of bittersweet chocolate (Ghirardelli brand 60% cacao), 3/4 cup (180ml) heavy cream, and 1/4 cup (60ml) Chambord raspberry liqueur.
So, I replaced some of the heavy cream with the raspberry liqueur. Again, you don’t have to do this. You can stick with 8 ounces chocolate + 8 ounces cream if desired.
Let it slightly cool in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to thicken up before spreading on the cake (which also needs some chill time after you apply the frosting crumb coat).
How to Assemble & Decorate This Chocolate Raspberry Cake
Admittedly, I’m not a professional cake decorator, so with all of my layer cakes, I prefer simplicity. Let me share how I stack and decorate this 3-layer chocolate raspberry cake.
Start by leveling your cakes, if needed, to create a flat surface for stacking and decorating.
Spoon about 1/2 cup of the chocolate buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. I use Wilton 2A. (Or just use a disposable piping bag and cut about 3/4 inch (2cm) off the tip and use that without a piping tip.) Place the bottom cooled cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Using a large icing spatula or small offset spatula, evenly cover the top with about 1/4 cup of chocolate buttercream frosting (a thin layer).
Then, pipe a thick border of frosting around the edge of the cake to create a “dam” for the raspberry filling. Spread half of the raspberry filling (heaping 1/2 cup) on top of the frosted cake layer, staying within the buttercream border:
Repeat the same exact process with the second cake layer.
Place the third cake layer on top, and then spread a thin layer (whatever you have left) of the chocolate buttercream on top and around the sides as a crumb coat. Run a bench scraper around the cake to smooth it out:
Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours to set the crumb coat. During this time, I usually make and chill the ganache.
Pour cooled chocolate ganache on top and spread all over the cake. Look how much this ganache thickens! It’s liquid at first, and 30 minutes in the refrigerator works magic. I use a large icing spatula to spread it all over the cake.
A cluster of fresh raspberries is the perfect finishing touch on top of this cake. A masterpiece for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day, this chocolate raspberry cake is the perfect marriage of chocolate and berry. See even more Valentine’s Day dessert recipes.
So many components! So many layers! I hope you enjoy. And if you do love these flavors together, be sure to try my raspberry chocolate chip layer cake and chocolate cupcakes with raspberry frosting next.
- Stand Mixer or Handheld Mixer
- 3 9-inch Cake Pans (8-inch also work, but I recommend 9-inch for this cake)
- Parchment Paper Rounds
- Large Icing Spatula (for frosting and ganache) and Small Offset Spatula (for raspberry filling)
- Cake Turntable (optional, I don’t use one for this)
- Bench Scraper for crumb coat
- Piping Bag (disposable or reusable) & Wilton 2A for buttercream dam
- Cake Carrier for storing and transporting
Enjoy layers of moist dark chocolate cake, sweet creamy chocolate buttercream, and homemade raspberry filling, all covered with a luxurious chocolate raspberry ganache.
- 1.5 Tablespoons (22ml) water
- 1.5 Tablespoons (4.5 teaspoons or 12g) cornstarch
- 3 cups (12 ounces/about 340–375g) fresh or frozen raspberries (do not thaw)*
- 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 3/4 cup (62g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder* (see Note)
- 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)*
- 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (180g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water or black coffee*
- 1 cup (170g) mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (tossed in 1 Tablespoon flour)
- 1 cup (16 Tbsp; 226g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 and 1/2 cups (420g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup (41g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or milk
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Raspberry Ganache
- 8 ounces (226g) quality semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup (180ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup (60ml) raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord (or replace with more heavy cream)
- optional garnish: fresh raspberries & fresh mint
- Make the raspberry filling: Whisk the cornstarch and water together until all the cornstarch has dissolved. (I just use a fork to mix—very easy.) Combine cornstarch mixture, raspberries (no need to thaw if using frozen), granulated sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Using a silicone spatula, stir the mixture, mashing the raspberries as they begin to thaw and soften. Bring to a boil and let it boil for 5 full minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
- Allow the raspberry filling to cool at room temperature for 10–15 minutes, then transfer it to a bowl or container and place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 1 week (the longer, the better). No need to cover it, but if refrigerating for longer than 4 hours, cover tightly. It will continue to thicken up as it chills. Raspberry filling must be completely chilled before using in your cake. If freezing, see Note below for instructions.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper rounds, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans. (If it’s helpful, see this parchment paper rounds for cakes video & post.)
- Make the cake: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder (if using) together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or you can use a whisk), mix the oil, eggs, and sour cream together on medium-high speed until combined. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the hot water/coffee, and whisk or beat on low speed until the batter is completely combined. Fold in the flour-coated chocolate chips. Batter is thin and you may see some air bubbles on the surface—that’s normal. You should have about 6–6.5 cups of batter, or around 1400g.
- Divide batter evenly between 3 pans. Bake for approximately 24–26 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely in the pan. The cakes may slightly sink in the middle as they cool—that’s expected.
- As the cakes cool, make the chocolate buttercream: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 1 full minute. Taste. Beat in another pinch of salt if desired. (Do you want your buttercream darker in color? I have a trick detailed on the full chocolate buttercream page.) You’re going to use this buttercream for a thin layer under the raspberry filling, a piped “dam” around 2 of the cake layers, and for the crumb coat. Makes about 2.5 cups total.
- Begin layering with raspberry filling and buttercream: Place 1 cooled cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Using a large icing spatula or small offset spatula, evenly cover the top with about 1/4 cup of chocolate buttercream frosting (a thin layer). Spoon about 1/2 cup of the chocolate buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. I use Wilton 2A. (Or just use a disposable piping bag and cut about 3/4 inch off the tip and use that without a piping tip.) Pipe a thick border of buttercream around the edge of the frosted cake layer, using about half of the buttercream in the piping bag. Then, using a small offset spatula, spread half of the thickened and chilled raspberry filling (about 1/2 cup) inside the buttercream border. Place second cake layer on top and then repeat the filling process: spread frosting, pipe border with remaining frosting in piping bag (if you ran out, just use more from the big bowl of buttercream), then spread on remaining raspberry filling. Top with third cake layer.
- Apply crumb coat: Using the remaining chocolate buttercream, spread a thin layer of buttercream on the top and around the sides as a crumb coat. Run a bench scraper around the cake to smooth out crumb coat. Chill uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours to set the crumb coat.
- As your crumb coat sets, make and chill the chocolate ganache: Place finely chopped chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream and raspberry liqueur, if using, in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil—that’s too hot!) Pour over chocolate, then let it sit for 2–3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. With a metal spoon or small rubber spatula, very slowly stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Ganache is thin. The finer you chopped the chocolate, the quicker it will melt with the cream. If it’s not melting, do not microwave it. If needed, see Troubleshooting Chocolate Ganache. Once ganache mixture is smooth, let it chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator to thicken before spreading on chilled crumb-coated cake.
- Pour/spoon thickened ganache on chilled cake, and spread all over cake with an icing spatula. Garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired. Serve cake immediately or chill, uncovered, for up to 4–6 hours before serving. Cake can be served at room temperature or chilled.
- Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days. I like using a cake carrier for storing and transporting.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions for Cake: Prepare cake through step 6. Wrap the individual baked and cooled cake layers tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature, then continue with step 7. You can prepare the raspberry filling and chocolate buttercream in advance. See step 2 for raspberry sauce details. For the buttercream, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using and beat in a little more room-temperature heavy cream to thin out if necessary. You can also prepare the chocolate ganache ahead of time. Refrigerate prepared ganache for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before spreading onto cake. Frosted cake freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or serve cold.
- Freezing Instructions for Raspberry Filling: After the raspberry filling cools completely, freeze in a freezer-friendly container for up to 3–6 months. Thaw on the counter or in the refrigerator before using. It will be very thick.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand Mixer) | 9-inch Cake Pans | Large Icing Spatula | Small Offset Spatula | Bench Scraper | Piping Bag (Disposable or Reusable) and Large Round Piping Tip for buttercream “dam” | Cake Carrier
- Cocoa Powder: This recipe requires natural cocoa powder for its acidity, so do not use dutch-process.
- Espresso Powder/Coffee: Espresso powder and coffee will not make the cake taste like coffee. Rather, they deepen the chocolate flavor. I highly recommend them both. If coffee isn’t your thing, you can leave out the espresso powder and use extra hot water instead of the hot coffee.
- Sour Cream: Instead of sour cream, you can use plain yogurt. The cake won’t taste as rich, but it’s a fine substitute.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup (120ml). (In a pinch, lower-fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cake won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
- Why Room Temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter and frosting mix together easily and evenly. Read more about why room temperature ingredients are important.
- Chocolate Raspberry Ganache: Feel free to replace the raspberry liqueur with 1/4 cup (60ml) more heavy cream to make a plain chocolate ganache instead. When melting chocolate, I recommend using pure chocolate baking bars (chocolate chips have stabilizers). You can find them right next to the chocolate chips in the baking aisle. I like Bakers or Ghirardelli brands, the ones labeled bittersweet (60% cacao) or semi-sweet (56% cacao), which come in 4-ounce (113g) bars.
- 6-Inch Cake: To make a scaled-down 3-layer 6-inch version of this cake, use this batter for chocolate cupcakes and follow my 6-inch cake baking instructions and details. I recommend using the same amount of raspberry filling, and having some left over. Use about 1/3 cup between the layers. You can halve the buttercream and ganache recipes.
- Cupcakes: For raspberry-filled chocolate cupcakes, make these very similar cream-filled chocolate cupcakes, but swap the cream filling for the raspberry filling.
- Helpful Tutorials: 10 Tips for Baking Perfect Cakes | How to Make Parchment Paper Rounds for Cakes | Raspberry Cake Filling | Chocolate Buttercream | Chocolate Ganache | 10 Essential Cake Baking & Decorating Tools
Keywords: chocolate raspberry cake