Way back when, when our grandmothers did a lot of baking, they had some very basic cake recipes that could be tweaked into something special without a lot of effort. Taking a plain white cake and marbling in some chocolate to part of the batter was one of those things. This recipe does the same kind of thing with frozen raspberries. The version I made today has a simple powdered sugar icing and then, to make it look more complicated than it really is, some chocolate chips were melted and swirled over the top.
For less time of prep, frost the cake while in the pan and then just sprinkle some chocolate chips over the top--you will still get that favorite flavor pairing of chocolate and raspberry. And don't be intimidated by the cake itself. It's pretty easy to make, you can boast about it being made "from scratch," and there isn't that long list of unpronounceable ingredients that you would have been feeding your family and guests had you used a mix.
Raspberry Marble Cake
1 c butter, softened
1 t vanilla
1/2 t almond extract
1 1/4 c sugar
2 1/4 c flour
1 T baking powder
3/4 c milk
1 c (OR 10 oz pkg) frozen raspberries, partly thawed; do not drain
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 325 degrees if using a glass pan. Thoroughly butter (or use baking spray) a 10" round cake pan. See below for other pan choices.
2. Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder togeterh and add alternately with the milk. Beat another minute or so, until the mixture is very smooth.
4. Place the raspberries in a large bowl and mash with a fork. Fold in about a third of the cake batter and stir only until well blended.
5. Drop the white and raspberry cake batters in alternate spoonfuls into the prepared cake pan. Pull a table knife or small spatula through the two different batters to add a marbled effect. (Don't stir too much, or you will end up with just a single color of cake. It won't affect the flavor but it will take away the attraction of a marble cake.)
6. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to remain in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto a cake plate or cooling rack.
Alternate pan sizes: You may use either a 7 X 11 rectangular pan or a very deep 9 inch pan. If using the deeper 9 inch pan, increase the baking time by about 10 minutes.
Basic Almond Frosting
1 T softened (but not melted) butter
1 T softened low fat or regular cream cheese
1/2 t almond extract
approximately 2 to 2 1/2 c powdered sugar
approximately 3 to 4 T milk--anything from skim to whole milk is fine
1. Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Gradually add about half the powdered sugar, the almond extract, and a tablespoon or so of milk. Beat well.
2. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and then stir in milk, just a teaspoon or so at a time, until the mixture is of the right consistency to spread.
3. Cover the top of the cake with the frosting and then push some of the frosting to the edges. You may choose to leave the cake with the frosting "drizzling down" the sides or you can continue to spread the frosting so that the sides are completely covered.
Microwaved Chocolate Topping
3/4 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 t canola oil
IMPORTANT: Be sure that the bowl and spatula used for stirring are completely dry. Chocolate has a wonderful property of irreversibly "seizing up," getting granular and lumpy, if there is ANY moisture in the melting process. That's why you don't want to cover the bowl, in case there is any steam at all generated in the heating.
1. Place the chips and oil in a small bowl, one that does not generally heat up in the microwave. Microwave, uncovered, for about 25 seconds, on no more than half power. (I use power level 4 out of 10.)
Another interesting chocolate fact: When melting in the microwave, the chocolate will not lose its shape even as it is melting. You need to test how much it has melted by taking it and actually stirring it. If you wait for the chips to melt into a liquid on their own, you will end up with burned and unusable chocolate--and a not very pleasant smell in the kitchen as well. You have been warned!
2. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir. The chips will not yet be melted at this point, so return them to the microwave and repeat the heating at half power for another 20 seconds.
3. After stirring the chips, return them to the microwave and repeat the heating, removing, and stirring at decreasing intervals (down to only 10 seconds at a time) until the chips begin to be melted throughout most of the mixture. At this point, you will just stir them until the remaining small chunks melt smoothly into the rest.
4. If the mixture seems a little too thick to spread, you may add another few drops of canola oil.
5. Immediately, while the chocolate is warm, drop the chocolate in little blobs around the surface of the frosted cake, and then use a table knife to swirl the chocolate into a pleasing design.
If this all sounds too complicated, just take some mini chocolate chips and sprinkle them over the top of the cake.
For either method, with melted chocolate or just the chips, you could add a few fresh raspberries as a special garnish as well.
If this all seems too complicated, just take some mini chocolate chips and sprinkle them over the top of the cake. If it is fresh raspberry season, you might also add a few whole berries for garnish too.