Black Pepper and Raspberry Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting

September 15, 2022

Upgrade a fudgy double-chocolate cake with the addition of raspberries speckled throughout, raspberry jam making two appearances, and a couple sprinklings of black pepper for that extra kick. This raspberry chocolate cake will be the star anywhere you let it shine.

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In the perfect chocolate cake, both the cake itself and the frosting must stand as paradigms of their own kind. But when they come together, the reaction should be nothing short of that wide-eyed, “oh my god,” or similar. Adding a little extra secret into a cake and frosting that are already so decadent? That’s the game changer.

Raspberry was an easy choice here, and I knew I wanted to work with them in a variety of ways to really get that flavor of chocolate’s favorite fruit throughout every bite of this dessert. The black pepper is a little bit of a surprise. Its spice is subtle here, and maybe not quite recognizable at first, but it adds that sense of mystery chocolate cake needs.

What You Need to Get Started

You can easily find all of the ingredients for this raspberry chocolate cake at your grocery store:

Let’s Make a Raspberry Chocolate Cake

This recipe started from a classic texas sheet cake, but I couldn’t resist a few changes that really make it special. However, I kept the simplicity of putting together the batter and the use of a sheet pan for baking.

Mix the Chocolate Raspberry Cake Batter

The cake itself comes together fairly quickly, so be sure to preheat your oven and check that there is a rack in the center before getting started. You can also line a sheet pan with parchment paper and grease it. A little spray of oil underneath the parchment will also help to hold it in place nicely.

To begin the batter, you’ll need a microwave-safe bowl. And in that bowl, you’ll be melting plenty of butter, along with cocoa powder and water. Heat these together in the microwave in thirty-second increments, stirring after each, until the butter is melted and everything is smoothly combined together.

It doesn’t feel like much, but that’s all the chocolate that goes into the cake portion of this: just cocoa powder. It’s all you need to get that rich, dark flavor, and will result in a cake that is moist and tender with a fine crumb.

Next we’ll be mixing in the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, and baking soda. First, whisk them all together in a bowl. Because of the acidity of cocoa, there’s no need for baking powder here. The soda has plenty to react with.

The sugar and flour create the main structure of this cake, but feel free to play around with textures. You can substitute up to all of the flour with white whole wheat for a slightly denser cake with a richer flavor.

Use a sifter or a mesh strainer to remove any large lumps from the flour and sugar before mixing them into the cocoa and butter. This will help make it easier to get everything smooth and combined without over-mixing.

If it gets too tough to mix together, adding the cream at this point can help you out. Using heavy cream here will add some extra richness and moisture to the crumb of the cake.

Then, once it’s pretty mixed in, with no major streaks or pockets of flour throughout the chocolate, you can add in the cream (if there’s any remaining), eggs, and raspberry jam. When it comes to choosing a jam, I suggest using one without seeds.

Continue to mix these into the rest of the batter, breaking up the eggs, until everything is incorporated together.

Prepare and Bake the Cake

Then, transfer the batter to the sheet pan that you prepared earlier. Be sure to use a flexible spatula to scrape all of that chocolatey goodness out of the bowl. It will also help you get the batter spread into an even layer in the pan, especially into those corners.

Get it all nice and smoothed out, and then it’s time to add a couple little extra surprises.

First, we’ll dot the cake with raspberries. I like using frozen berries here that have been thawed enough that they aren’t rock solid. However, if you have a good supply of fresh raspberries, those will also work here. Just be sure to set some aside for garnishing later.

Arrange them fairly evenly across the surface of the cake, pressing each on gently into the batter. Then cover the top with a generous sprinkling of black pepper. For the best taste, go with freshly cracked, but if that’s not available to you, pre-ground pepper will also work here.

Finally, it’s time to bake the cake! Place the sheet pan into the oven and allow it to bake for right around twenty-five minutes. You’ll know when the cake is ready because it will be springy, bouncing back when you touch it very gently. You can also test the center with a toothpick, which should come out clean, but be careful not to poke a juicy raspberry!

Let the cake cool in the pan for at least twenty minutes. Then you can use the parchment to transfer it to a work surface, either by sliding or carefully flipping the cake. The baked chocolate raspberry cake can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for a couple days or frozen, wrapped tightly, for a few months.

Make the Chocolate Fudge Frosting

While the cake is baking, that’s the perfect time to prepare the super rich chocolate fudge frosting. Honestly, this stuff is like a thick, glorious layer of fudge smothering your already flavorful cake. It’s a perfect pairing.

Similar to the cake, we’ll begin with a microwave-safe bowl. This time, add to it butter, along with dark chocolate and milk. Choose your favorite brand of chocolate here, but I recommend sticking with something between sixty and eighty percent cocoa. A higher number will give you a richer flavor.

Heat these together in thirty-second increments, stirring after each one until the chocolate pieces and butter have melted, and everything is smoothly combining together into a silky chocolate pool.

Then, grab your powdered sugar, because it’s time to turn this into fudgy frosting! Add the sugar one cup at a time, and thoroughly mix in each cup before adding the next. This will save you some grief and intense stirring.

I usually mix this by hand, using a flexible spatula to scrape the sides and evenly incorporate the sugar. However, a mixer on low speed will help you out, if needed.

The fudge will be spreadable in consistency, and a little bit oily, thanks to the melted butter. However, it will start to solidify the longer it sits out. If needed, you can always microwave the fudge briefly to liven it up a little bit and make spreading easier. You can also store it in the fridge for a few days, but then be sure to warm it gently in the microwave until it’s spreadable.

Put the Cake Together

Now we’ve got all the pieces, so it’s time to put our cake together! If you want to go really simple, you can skip the layering, and simply coat the sheet cake with raspberry jam before frosting with a thick layer of fudge.

However, for the fancier two-layer cake, you’ll first need to cut the sheet cake in half, into two smaller rectangles. Cut parallel to one of the shorter edges, so you end up with two pieces that are about eight by thirteen inches. This will vary based on the size of your original sheet pan.

Carefully transfer one of the layers onto a serving platter or cake board. The cake itself will be somewhat fragile, so I suggest you flip it using flat surfaces, or transfer using parchment paper for the best results.

On the first layer, create a frame with about a third of the fudge frosting, outlining the top of the cake layer with about a one-inch wide border. Inside of that, add some raspberry jam, spreading it around to fill in all the gaps.

Then, carefully again, transfer the second layer on top of the first. This time, you will being going all-out with the remaining fudge. Spread it all over the top of the cake, creating a nice thick layer. There’s no need to frost the sides here, since the fudge is a bit too thick to spread nicely on the vertical surface. However, it’s okay if some drips down the sides.

Cover the cake and serving platter with foil and refrigerate the cake until the fudge has solidified, and the cake is cooled through. Overnight works best here, but a few hours will work in a pinch.

Then, just before serving the cake, sprinkle it with a dusting of powdered sugar and a good sprinkling of more freshly cracked black pepper. This cake is fairly rich, so I suggest cutting it into narrow slices, and serving each with a couple fresh raspberries as garnish.

The fully prepared cake, whole or in slices, can be stored at room temperature for a couple days or in the fridge for half a week. Eat the slices cold, or let them warm up to room temperature for about half an hour. Or freeze the cake for up to three months, and let it thaw overnight in the fridge before serving it.

Rich and decadent chocolate cake is dotted with raspberries and smothered with a super sweet fudge frosting. Raspberry jam and black pepper add a little extra zing to this raspberry chocolate cake!

How to Serve Raspberry Chocolate Cake

This cake is decadent. Surely, you could get away with serving small slices of it on their own, as long as there’s a glass of milk nearby. But you could also have a little more fun with it.

Make this cake the centerpiece of a dessert spread, surrounding it with complementary bite-sized treats like cherry chocolate chip cookies, rocky road black bean brownies, almond coconut cream puffs and sesame butterscotch Rice Krispies treats. Don’t forget some homemade whipped cream to top it all off!

Or let this raspberry chocolate cake really shine by featuring it with just some delicious drinks. Lean into the flavors of the cake itself with a chocolate old fashioned or cozy raspberry white hot chocolate. Or grab a caramel vanilla iced latte to wash down every ultra rich bite.

Chocolate and Its Other Best Friends

Black Pepper and Raspberry Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting

Rich and decadent, this cake may look like simple chocolate, but it's hiding secret raspberry and black pepper flavors throughout.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 32 slices
Calories: 360kcal

Ingredients

Raspberry Chocolate Cake

  • 1 Cup Butter
  • ½ Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 6 Tbsp Water
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 Eggs
  • ½ Cup Heavy Cream
  • ¼ Cup Raspberry Jam preferably seedless
  • 1 Cup Raspberries Fresh or thawed frozen
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

  • ½ Cup Butter
  • ¼ Cup Milk
  • 6 oz Dark Chocolate roughly chopped or broken into pieces
  • ½ Cup Raspberry Jam
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar plus 1 Tbsp for dusting
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper for dusting
  • 40-50 Fresh Raspberries optional, for garnish

Instructions

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center. Prepare a jellyroll pan (or sheet pan with sides) by lightly coating with cooking spray, lining with a layer of parchment paper, and then greasing the parchment with more spray.
  • In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter, cocoa, and water. Heat in the microwave in thirty second increments, stirring after each, until melted.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir to fully combine. Add in the eggs, cream, and jam and mix well.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and spread into the corners of the pan by tilting and using a silicone spatula. Press the raspberries into the batter, distributed around the surface of the cake. Sprinkle evenly with black pepper.
  • Bake for 23-28 minutes, until the center is springy and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes. Then carefully use the parchment paper to slide it onto a surface.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

  • While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting. In a small microwave safe bowl, add the dark chocolate, milk, and butter. Melt these in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each until smooth.
  • Add in the sugar in 1 cup batches. Mix to thoroughly incorporate each batch.

Constructing the Cake

  • Cut the cake in half parallel to the short sides to create 2 rectangles. Transfer one piece of the cake to a cake board or serving tray. Add about ⅓ of the fudge around the edge of the top of this cake, creating a 1-inch thick border.
  • Add the raspberry jam into the middle of the fudge frosting, spreading it around to fill the space.
  • Carefully transfer the other half of the chocolate cake on top of the frosted half. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining fudge frosting. If the frosting is becoming difficult to work with, warm it in the microwave briefly.
  • Once coated, cover the cake with foil and transfer to the fridge to cool. Dust the cooled cake with additional powdered sugar and black pepper. Then slice and serve with a garnish of fresh raspberries.

Notes

  • Make ahead tips:
    • The chocolate raspberry cake can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for 2-3 days or frozen, wrapped tightly, for up to 3 months. 
    • The chocolate fudge frosting can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. Warm it gently in the microwave until spreadable. 
    • The fully prepared cake, whole or in slices, can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the fridge for 4-5 days. Eat slices cold, or let warm up to room temperature for up to 30 minutes. Or freeze for 3 months, and let thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Raspberries: You can use fresh or thawed frozen berries inside the cake. However, garnish with fresh berries only.
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