I have to apologize for the following photos, they don't do the cake justice. But the lighting was poor and there was no time for styling, so it is what it is.
rich and flavorful with a light texture and a fine crumb
(adapted from here)
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for dusting pans
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips)
1 cup boiling water
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. salt
20 Tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F. Grease three 9 inch cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper circles, and dust with cocoa powder; tapping out the excess.
In a bowl, combine the 1 cup cocoa powder and the chocolate. Add the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and blended. Set aside.
Over a sheet of parchment, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Reduce the speed to low, add the brown sugar and beat until blended. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating until incorporated before adding more and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated, about 1 minute.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour, beating just until blended and no lumps of flour remain. Slowly pour in the chocolate-cocoa mixture and beat until no white streaks are visible, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing equally among the three. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, about 25 - 30 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge, then invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cakes cool completely, at least 1 hour. Once cooled, level the cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveler.
Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Filling
Slightly sweet with a velvety texture
8 oz. Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 c. heavy cream
1/3. c. granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds only
1 pint fresh raspberries
Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean by making a slit lengthwise down the bean and using a paring knife to scraped the seeds out, set aside. In a bowl, whip the heavy cream with an electric hand mixture until soft peaks form. Add Mascarpone cheese, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds, beat on low until just combined. Spread half of the filling on top of one of the cake layers. Sprinkle with half of the raspberries, gently press down into filling. Top with a second cake layer, repeat with remaining filling and raspberries. Top with the remaining cake layer. Refrigerate while you make the frosting.
Raspberry Cheesecake Buttercream
Tangy and delicious in a lovely magenta hue(adapted from here)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (6 ounces) cream cheese, softened
4 1/2 - 5 cups powdered sugar, or until desired consistency is reached
8 ounces frozen raspberries, pureed
2 tsp. vanilla
Cream butter and cream cheese in electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup sugar and beat until smooth. Add half of the pureed raspberries and mix until combined. Add remaining powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until well incorporated.Add vanilla and the remaining half of the raspberries and mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
If needed, add more sugar as necessary to achieve proper consistency. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before frosting. Pipe or spread onto the prepared cake.