"I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!" cried Jane.
"Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!"
"If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness."
Yesterday was our sister Hillary's birthday. Hillary is lots of things---a fantastic mother, a dedicated runner, an insightful reader, and an adept CEO of her household. But she also Jane Bennett.
I mean it.
Not only is she beautifully doe-eyed and creamy complected, but she is kind. And gentle. And good. In short, she is pretty much everything Lizzy and I are not.
(I should say here that Miriam is also a definitively better person than I am---even if her birth order means that she is the Mary Bennett of our family.)
So, in an effort to celebrate this dear sister of ours and all of her goodness, I made her the "goodest" cake I knew of.
This endeavor was inspired by one of our favorite bakeries in New Mexico called Flying Star. One of their signature cakes has layer upon layer of dense chocolate cake, tangy raspberry preserves, rich chocolate mouse, and creamy, dark ganache. But since I had neither the time nor gas money to make the out-of-state pilgrimage for this delicacy, I decided to try my own hand at making a Raspberry Blackout Cake.
I started with this recipe for the cake (omitting the chocolate chips) and baked it in two, nine-inch round cake pans.
While the cake was cooking, I whipped up a batch our favorite mousse from the Strawberry Chocolate Mousse Cake recipe.
When the cakes had finished cooking and had cooled, I cut both of them in half with a long serated knife, making sure that the layers were equal heights.
And then I began layering:
Layer 1: Cake
Layer 2: 1/3 cup Raspberry Preserves
Layer 3: 1/3 of the Chocolate Mousse
Layer 4: Cake
Layer 5: 1/3 cup Raspberry Preserves
Layer 6: 1/3 of the Chocolate Mousse
Layer 7: Cake
Layer 8: 1/3 cup Raspberry Preserved
Layer 9: 1/3 of the Chocolate Mousse
Layer 10: Cake
Next, I covered the top and sides of the cake with a chocolate ganache. (I used chocolate chips for the chopped chocolate in this recipe.)
Finally, I decorated and garnished the cake with some drizzled white chocolate, a package of Pepperidge Farm Chocolate Hazelnut Pirouettes, fresh raspberries, and some ribbon.
When I delivered the cake to Hillary, she was kind enough to cut a slice right then and there so I could take a picture of the inside of the cake.
She slowly put a piece of the cake in her mouth, and then she sighed.
"Erika, this cake is as good as it looks," she said.
Mission accomplished: A good birthday cake for an even better woman.
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