8 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut up
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup cooking oil
1/3 cup brandy
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup brandy
1 recipe Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1 recipe Chocolate Glaze
1 teaspoon water
1 recipe Chocolate Leaves (optional)
Fresh raspberries (optional)
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
In a small heavy saucepan melt chocolate over low heat, stirring often. Cool. In a small mixing bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine sugar, eggs, oil, and the 1/3 cup brandy; beat with an electric mixer on low speed till combined. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Beat in melted chocolate. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just till combined.
Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9x1-1/2-inch round baking pans. Bake in a 350° F oven about 20 minutes or till a wooden toothpick inserted near centers come out clean.
Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans. Cool thoroughly on racks, bottoms up. With a long-tined fork, poke holes in the bottoms of the cakes. Sprinkle each layer with 4 teaspoons of the brandy.
To frost cake, reserve about 1/4 cup of the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Place 1 cake layer on a serving platter. Spread with some of the remaining frosting. Repeat layers twice, spreading about 3/4 cup frosting smoothly onto top of cake. Spread sides of cake with remaining frosting. Refrigerate cake about 20 minutes or till frosting is set.
Carefully spread Chocolate Glaze over top of the cake, allowing glaze to drip down the sides. Stir the water into reserved Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Pipe frosting onto top of cake in a decorative pattern. Pull the tip of a spatula or knife in diagonal lines 1 inch apart across the piped lines. Decorate with Chocolate Leaves and fresh raspberries, if desired. Chill to store. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: In a small mixing bowl beat 1 cup softened butter till fluffy. Gradually add 3-3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar and 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, beating well. Slowly beat in 1/2 cup milk, 3 tablespoons brandy or milk, and 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla. Slowly beat in an additional 4 cups sifted powdered sugar. Beat in additional milk or powdered sugar, if needed to achieve a spreading consistency. Makes 5-3/4 cups frosting.
Chocolate Glaze: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut up, with 2 tablespoons margarine or butter, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons hot water. Stir in additional hot water, if necessary, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, till smooth. Cool slightly (about 5 minutes). Makes about 1/2 cup glaze.
Chocolate Leaves: Melt 6 ounces semisweet chocolate or white baking bar; cool. Stir in 3 tablespoons light corn syrup till combined. Turn mixture onto a large sheet of waxed paper. Let stand at room temperature about 6 hours or till dry.
Gently knead for 10 to 15 strokes or till smooth and pliable. To make a lighter-colored chocolate, knead some white chocolate into dark chocolate. If mixture is too soft, chill in the refrigerator about 15 minutes or till easy to handle. Or, if desired, knead in enough powdered sugar to make the mixture stiff. Store unused chocolate in a sealed plastic bag at room temperature for 3 to 4 weeks. (It will stiffen during storage. Knead the mixture till it is pliable before using.)
To make leaves, shape a portion of chocolate mixture into a ball. Flatten slightly; place between 2 sheets of waxed paper dusted with powdered sugar. Roll to 1/8-inch thickness. Using small hors d'oeuvre or cookie cutters, cut the chocolate mixture into leaf shapes. Carefully lift the cutouts from waxed paper and place atop and around cake. If desired, place smaller leaves on top of the larger leaves.
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