Chocolate Raspberry Forest Cake {Birthday}

My husband is a quarter of a century old!


I just love saying that, but I better watch it because I will be 25 before you know it! 😀 Yay!



By Logan’s request, I made a Chocolate Raspberry Cake.

Logan’s Chocolate Raspberry Forest Cake was:

  • Dark chocolate cake layers
  • Dark chocolate ganache and raspberry filling
  • Vanilla buttercream frosting
  • Dark chocolate trees



Let me tell you something! This cake was GOOD!



Just look at those amazing layers!

This cake was so moist and with the tart flavor and crunch from the filling. You talk about good!

Oh, and it’s just a fact of life that you must enjoy a slice with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt (for those of you ice cream lovers like me!). 😀



Anyway. On to the recipe!!!


Chocolate Cake Layers

adapted from Smitten Kitchen


  • 1/3 cups dark chocolate chips such as Ghirardelli
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken low fat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Grease and lightly flour 3 9″ cake pans.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, pour the hot coffee over the chocolate chips. Let it stand for a couple of minutes, and stir until chocolate is melted.
  4. Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  5. In the bowl of your electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer).
  6. Slowly add the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating until combined.
  7. Add the dry ingredients mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans
  9. Bake on the middle racks of the oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about an 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  10. Cool layers completely in pans on racks.
  11. Once completely cooled, invert the cake layers onto individual long sheets of plastic wrap. Be sure to wrap each layer tightly.
  12. Freeze the layers for about 3-4 hours (up to 24 hours).


When you are ready to assemble the cake, begin by preparing the raspberry filling and chocolate ganache. Please note: Just prior to this point, you should have set your butter out at room temperature to soften (for about 4 hours until it’s soft yet slightly still cool).


Raspberry Filling


  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves (or jam)
  • 2-4 tablespoons frozen/frozen raspberries (or strawberries), finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch


  1. In a small sauce pan, heat all ingredients until heated through.
  2. Pour into a small bowl and set aside in the refrigerator.


Chocolate Ganache


  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


  1. In a small sauce pan, heat the heavy cream until warm (don’t boil!).
  2. Add in the chocolate chips and stir until completely blended.
  3. Pour into a small bowl and set aside on the counter.


Now, once the raspberry filling has thickened up in the fridge and the chocolate ganache has cooled and thickened at room temperature, it’s time to make the frosting.


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

adapted from pure and yummy


  • 3 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. heavy cream


  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.
  2. Add the powered sugar and salt and beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds.
  3. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds.
  4. Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds.
  5. Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

Now, take your cake layers out of the freezer. One at a time, unwrap a layer of cake and using a piping bag fitted with a medium circular tip and filled with the frosting, pipe a circle on around the top of the cake layer as a border/barricade for which the filling is confined to.

Spread half of the chocolate ganache on the cake layer, inside the frosting border.

Spread half of the raspberry filling on top of the ganache.

Put the 2nd cake layer ontop of the filling of the first and repeat.

Finally, place the 3rd layer on the top and cover the remaining cake with the frosting and place the cake in the refrigerator.

Next, assemble the chocolate trees.


Chocolate Trees


  • 12 ounces dark chocolate chips


  1. Over a double boiler, melt the chocolate.
  2. Remove from the double boiler and let the chocolate get lukewarm (it should be soft enough to drip/lightly squeeze out of a piping bag but not so hard that you have to use a lot of pressure to get it out of the bag)
  3. Lay out a couple layers of foil on a flat surface (or even better, on flat cookie sheets).
  4. Draw out your trees with the melted chocolate.
  5. Put the chocolate trees in the fridge until they are hard.
  6. Using gloves (so you don’t melt the trees with your hands or get finger prints on them), squirt some chocolate on the backs of your trees and place them on the cake.






The candles ended up burning the forest down!



Oh, no! They’re melting!

Luckily, Logan saved the poor little trees, holding them up while blowing the forest fire out. 😉



  1. This cake looks amaaazing!! For the raspberry filling, how much frozen raspberries did you use? You forgot to put that part. 🙂 Thanks!!

  2. I think I just found MY birthday cake!! Sounds amazing. Now, will you make it for me and deliver it to NC in August 🙂 Of course, I’ll be MUCH older 😛

  3. Happy Birthday to Logan!!!! Bet he REALLY enjoyed his cake!!! It looks and sounds AMAZING!!! 25 sounds so young, but when you say “quarter of a century” hahaha thats a different story, LOL!

  4. My 17 year old son asked me to make a chocolate raspberry cake for his girlfriend’s 16th birthday tomorrow… this is DEFINITELY it! I think I’ll do some hearts instead of trees, and maybe some “16”s. Super excited to make it AND to eat it! Thank you!!!

  5. Your cake looks amazing and absolutely delicious! I am so glad that you enjoyed the buttercream recipe. You did a beautiful job on the trees too and beautiful photos. A Big Happy Birthday to your husband!

  6. Beautiful cake! If you do it or something similar again, you should consider tempering the chocolate–that way you don’t have to worry about them melting and bending with ambient heat and candles. It’s not too tough. I plan on posting about it soon on my own site if you want a quick guide. Basically you heat (dark) chocolate to 118ºF, then cool it while stirring to 90ºF. Then you pour and let it chill/set on a cold pan, and thats that! Works great and not nearly as daunting as the internet makes it seem.

    1. Awesome! I know I’ve seen the chefs on those food network challenges tempering the chocolate and it always seems like a REALLY difficult thing to do. You make it sound easy and I’m looking forward to seeing how you do it! 😀 Thank you so much Savannah!

  7. This cake looks fabulous. Great work! I am making a cake this week for Mother’s Day and I wanted to use this recipe. Do you know if there is anything I could substitute for the coffee? Thank you so much!!!

    1. If you don’t want the caffeine, maybe try using decaf coffee. But as for eliminating it all together, you might be able to just use hot water. I’ve never tried it, but you could always do a trial run. 🙂 I hope it turns out!

        1. Hi Camille,

          Did you end up using hot water? How did the cake go? I would love to know what you substitute for coffee. Thanks!

  8. Thank you, thank you, THANK you! I made this cake for my boyfriend’s college graduation party and it was a HIT. I did make the change of making this a 4-layer cake and alternating chocolate and vanilla cake layers. The chocolate trees looked beautiful and he loved the final look of the cake. There was not a single piece leftover and everyone scraped their plates clean. Thank you again for posting this! 🙂

    1. Awww! I’m so glad Genevieve! I bet your four layer cake looked absolutely incredible! 🙂 Eeee…so happy! 🙂 And congratulations to your boyfriend…he’s a lucky guy to have you!

  9. I found this recipe on stumbleupon and this was probably the best cake I’ve ever tasted! My boyfriend LOVES this cake and I got a lot of compliments on it, so thank you for the recipe!!!

  10. I love the sound of your cake & you left wonderful instructions! Thank you. I’m going to try it for a Christmas get together & make the trees green. Hope it looks as good as yours! Thanks!

      1. Well I made the trees the same as yours & it was wonderful! Thank you! It was a fabulous hit that everyone loved. Very rich! My frosting wasn’t as white as I ‘d have liked but the flavor was the best! I have requests for this clear to next July!!

  11. I have bookmarked this cake to make for Christmas, which is just days away : ) A few qn’s…I have regular bleached all-purpose flour on hand, no unbleached all-purpose flour. Can these be interchanged? Also, I’m a dark chocolate lover but I would be making this amazing cake specially for my mom, who is not allowed to have dark chocolate. If I use regular chocolate, would you recommend bittersweet, or semi-sweet, or? And would you recommend that I keep all the measurement amounts the same or up them a tad? Thanks so much!!

    1. I’m so glad you’re going to make this great cake Jessica! As for your questions: Feel free to use plain all purpose flour for the recipe and for your mom, I would use semi-sweet chocolate…and keep all the measurements the same. I hope it turns out beautifully! Happy Baking!!!

  12. Thank you for getting back to me Caroline!! I ended up getting the correct flour at the store today and semi-sweet chips : ) Will let you know how the modified version turns out! Merry Christmas!! : )

  13. Found your blog via Pinterest and just made this for Christmas dessert — it was WONDERFUL and beautiful too, a big hit! This will be my go-to “fancy cake” recipe from now on, and I love that you could really do all kinds of designs with the chocolate depending on the theme of the day. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  14. I stumbled upon your website looking for a good cake recipe for my mom’s birthday and this looks awesome! The trees made from chocolate are a great idea, i would never even have thought of that. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    1. Well, I’ve never tried making it without coffee, but you could try just using hot water to make it. I know that I’ve used decaf coffee if you’re looking to steer away from the caffeine. But, otherwise, the coffee just enhances the chocolate flavor of the cake. 😀 Happy Baking!

  15. Hey, I’m part way through making this cake (it looked too delicious not to try!).
    How tall was the one you made? The layers I baked didn’t seem to rise much – do you know why that might be?
    Still, can’t wait to try the end result 🙂

    1. Oh, yay! Each layer was about 2 inches tall, making the cake about 6-6.5 inches tall. So yummy! I hope it turns out great! Happy Baking!

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  17. I came across this recipe on Pinterest and I want to try it. I was thinking of making the chocolate trees out of white chocolate, in the shape of snowflakes instead. I figured I would use white chocolate chips and melt them like you did, do you think that would work? Thanks for the recipe it looks so yummy, can’t wait to make it! 🙂

    1. That would be lovely! I actually saw in Southern Livings magazine’s Christmas issue where they had done the same type of trees in white chocolate. 😀 I hope it all turns out beautifully! Happy Baking!

    1. I do it so that it’s easier to work with the layers. They stay in one piece when moving/stacking, leveling the layers, and freezing the cake layers allows the frosting to set better on the cake. It makes the frosting look smooth, almost like fondant when it’s cold. I hope that helps Nicole! Happy Baking!

    1. The size trees that I made, I fit 11. But, my suggestion to you is to make more than you think you’ll need and choose your best ones to go on the cake. Then, just eat the leftover ones as a reward for your hard work! 😀 Happy Baking Emily!

      1. Thank you so much! I plan on making some of the tress green to add a pop of color. I can’t wait to make this for my dad’s birthday! He was born on Christmas Eve so I’m making it just for him!

  18. I’m in the process of making this cake. We’ll be gathering at a condo with family this weekend so i’m making what I can ahead of time and plan on assembling it there. Besides the cakes and the raspberry filling, do you think I can make the trees, ganache or frosting ahead of time?

    1. Hey Jenn! I would think making everything ahead of time would be fine. The only thing I worry about is the trees blossoming. If you temper the chocolate, it won’t blossom and they will be fine. Otherwise, if you are like me and don’t know how to properly temper chocolate, you may want to make those the day of. As for the ganache, make it ahead of time and set it out to room temperature until it reaches a spreadable consistency before putting on the cake. The same goes for the frosting. I wish you the best and happy baking!

  19. Just made this cake for friends coming for dinner – it was the very best cake I have ever made. Delicious! A cake well worth the effort and one I will make over and over.

    Thanks so much for sharing!


  20. This cake is beautiful and I am doing a trial run today for a Christmas party next weekend that I am responsible for the dessert. I bought full fat buttermilk, does that matter?

  21. I made this wonderful cake a couple years ago and am just remembering it again for a woodland the meed baby shower I have tomorrow. I was curious if you ever assemble (all but the trees) a day ahead of time. Would the filling weep through the frosting if refrigerated do you think? I might do as another commenter did and just make everything ahead of time and assemble tomorrow. But was just curious if you’d ever made it a day ahead of time and had any issues with the raspberry filling weeping through or anything?
    Thanks so much for such a great and lovely recipe!!

    1. Oh yay! I’m so glad you liked the cake! I haven’t made the cake again, but I’d imagine it’d be fine. If you’re worried, I would do what you said and make everything ahead of time and just assemble it when you need it. I bet it will turn out beautifully! Have a wonderful baby shower and happy baking!

  22. I found this receipe last year and made it for our dear friends. The loved the cake and said it was the best cake they had. So, by popular demand i’m making it again!

    1. Aww, how wonderful!!! Thank you so much for making it and for letting me know, Michelle! Happy Holidays and Happy Baking! 😀

  23. I’m attempting to make this tomorrow but was wondering if the assembled cake has to be refrigerated or could it stand out at room temp for say 3 hrs?

    1. It will be perfect at room temperature for 3 hours. Just make sure it’s not too hot or humid, else the chocolate trees will melt and fall. Happy Baking and Merry Christmas!

  24. I used your idea of the trees for this Christmas. I defiantly going to score point with my parents.They look awesome! Thanks for the great idea!!

  25. If I didn’t want to use the coffee in the recipe, what would you suggest as an alternative/substitute ingredient? Looks decadent…can’t wait to try!

    1. Mmm, that’s tricky. Is it that you don’t want coffee flavor at all? If so, I’m not sure what you’d try. But, if you can’t use coffee, but still want the coffee flavor, maybe try hot water and either coffee extract or coffee liquor. If this seems too scary to experiment with, you can use any other chocolate cake recipe (that makes 3 nine inch round cakes) as a substitute. Happy Baking!

  26. Can you taste the coffee? I know coffee enhances the chocolate flavor, and I have used it in other recipes for that purpose but I don’t LIKE the taste of coffee… It is a truly beautiful cake.

    1. No, I didn’t tasted the coffee in this cake. I’m not sure if you could taste it if you ate the cake by itself, but when paired with the frosting and chocolate/raspberry filling, it’s pure chocolate goodness! Happy Baking!

    1. I want to say it made at least 15 trees of various sizes, plus some extra that didn’t have room on the cake. I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

  27. I am in the process of making this for my boyfriend for our anniversary. I only have 8″ pans however, and it might be too much trouble to recalculate the ingredient units. I was thinking of making the same amount of batter and then simply pouring enough to fill a few 8″ pans. About how much should I fill the pan so that the cake rises to the 2″ you said yours were at?

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