You know when you accidentally make jam? Okay, it wasn’t an accident like a slip and fall, but it sure wasn’t very premeditated. Not sure I’ve made jam since I was a little girl at grandma’s house so this was quite a departure.
I had all these strawberries from Costco that I knew I couldn’t finish, so I got out a pack of pectin which I had on hand from making raspberry/blood orange/passion fruit pate de fruit and made freezer jam. Why on earth would anyone make freezer jam, you ask? Frankly, because I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention (This was about the time of Bachelorette Gia Allemande’s suicide, so we all had a lot to think about. If Gia can’t make it in this world, what hope is there for the rest of us?). Basically, I didn’t turn the paper over in time to find the preserve jam recipes. The freezer jam recipe calls for almost twice as much sugar as fruit plus extra water. So naturally, you get super sweet, painfully bland jam. (If you happen to be the recipient of a jar of sugary, flavorless strawberry jam from me in the near future, please don’t take it personally. It was an accident.)
But the accidental jam gave me a craving for fresh raspberry jam especially since I had meant to make this raspberry chocolate cake for Dessert Club but missed it for real estate. So I picked up some more jelly jars from Target and some raspberries from Costco. Armed with the standard no-pectin recipe and a big pot, I started making jam. America’s Test Kitchen says the way to wash raspberries is to fill a large bowl with cold water and give them a gentle soak in it, then drain the berries on paper towels. (This is the cilantro spa method as well.)
Homemade Raspberry Jam
4 cups mashed raspberries, (pre-rinsed, mashed with potato masher, do not remove seeds)
4 cups sugar
You can tell this is going to be yummier from the ingredients list, right? You can skip the additives entirely with raspberry jam because there is enough pectin in the seeds to thicken it. And the recipe is easily scalable: just keep the berries to sugar ratio 1:1. Those who love a sour kick in their jam can throw in 1-3 teaspoons of lemon juice or passion fruit juice per 4 cups berries.
1. In a very large, heavy bottomed pot (jam will double in size when boiling) heat mashed berries until they reach a full rolling boil, stirring frequently. A rolling boil is one that does not stop when stirred.
2. Boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Stir in sugar.
4. Bring to rolling boil again. Raspberries will foam and darken.
5. Boil 2 minutes stirring constantly.
6. Remove from heat.
7. Beat with rotary beater for 4 minutes. (I assume this is to de-foam the jam? I can’t really say what this does. Someone suggested it may be to blend any bits into a smooth jam, but honestly, if bits survived all that boiling, you’re not doing it right.) Foam will disappear. If any remains, skim it.
8. Pour into sterilized jars and seal per jar instructions.
The jam was pretty awesome. Since one of our neighbors ended up gifting us some homemade bread just the next day, we ate more of the batch than we’d originally planned. Still I have enough to give away, but first Fluffy and I are fitting the jars with JAM HATS (more on that tomorrow). What is the point of giving away jam if you don’t gussy it up in the latest in preserve fashions?
Now about that cake. I had already made the obligatory super-potent passion fruit ice cream for Kent for our 10th anniversary, and I wanted a little something chocolatey for myself. I’m reprinting the epicurious recipe verbatim, but I’ll tell you at the end what I did slightly differently.
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
Chocolate ganache and raspberry topping:
- 18 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
- 2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 6 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam, stirred to loosen, divided
- 2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries
- Powdered sugar
- Special equipment: 2 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides
Position racks in top and bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; spray rounds. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl; whisk to blend and form well in center. Whisk 1 cup water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients; whisk just to blend. Divide cake batter between prepared pans (about 3 cups each).
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (If cakes form domes, place kitchen towel atop hot cakes, then press gently with palm of hand to level.) Cool completely in pans on cooling racks. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover cakes in pans and let stand at room temperature.
For chocolate ganache and raspberry topping:
Place chopped chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream just to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Pour over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until ganache is melted and smooth. Transfer 1 1/4 cups ganache to small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ganache is thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let remaining ganache stand at room temperature to cool until barely lukewarm.
Place rack inside rimmed baking sheet. Carefully run knife around pan edges to release cakes. Invert 1 cake layer onto cardboard round or bottom of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Place cake layer on round on prepared rack. Spread 3 tablespoons jam over top. Spoon dollops of chilled ganache over, then spread evenly.
Invert second cake layer onto another cardboard round or tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Carefully slide cake off round and onto frosted cake layer on rack. Spread remaining 3 tablespoons raspberry jam over top of second cake layer. Pour half of barely lukewarm ganache over cake, spreading over sides to cover. Freeze until ganache sets, about 30 minutes. Pour remaining ganache over cake, allowing to drip down sides and spreading over sides if needed for even coverage and to smooth edges. Freeze to set ganache, about 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before continuing.
Arrange raspberries in concentric circles atop cake. Sift powdered sugar lightly over raspberries and serve.
A two-step process ensures a picture-perfect dessert. First, a thin layer of ganache is spread over the cake and chilled briefly to set (this is called a crumb coat). Another layer of ganache is then poured over the cake, which gives the treat a smooth finish.
I chilled the whole batch of ganache into frosting, whipped it a bit, and spread it over the cake rather than dripping it over. I prefer the consistency of ganache that way, and I didn’t really want to get into dripping.
The cake was quite good, though the raspberry jam flavor got entirely lost in all that chocolate. In retrospect, I may have preferred a whipped butter chocolate cake to a vegetable oil cake since the latter always has a more muffiny mouth-feel and taste.
I’m not going to say it blew my mind, but it definitely quelled any chocolate craving.