Tuesday, December 5, 2023

How to Make a Bloody Good Chocolate Cake With Pastry Chef Kursten Restivo

This recipe comes from our Deconstructing the Dish story in the September/October 2017 issue. For content like this, subscribe to the magazine

Recipe by Kursten Restivo, head pastry chef of the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa. Photography by Aaron BristolVideo by David Shuff.

For the chocolate layer cake

  • 1 ½ cups + 3 tbsp cake flour
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp black cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
  • 3 Eeggs
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and cut out two 8-inch parchment rounds to place on the bottom of each pan. Sift cake flour, all purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together mayo, eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredient into dry and whisk until combined; mixture will be thick. Fold in hot coffee just until combined. Separate mix evenly (about 4 cups per cake pan) between two 8 inch cake pans. Bake for about 45 minutes or until cake springs back when touched or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Strawberry Curd

  • 4 cups strawberry puree, strained
  • ½ cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter

Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan till lumps are gone, add in strawberry puree, and cook untill the puree/sugar mix comes to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and egg yolks. Add a little of the hot strawberry liquid to the egg mixture then add the egg mixture back into the pot. Cook, stirring constantly until the curd has thickened. Remove from heat, strain over butter and stir until butter is melted and curd is completely combined. Pour into a bowl, cover directly with plastic wrap and let chill in refrigerator until set and completely cool, about 2-3 hours, or overnight. This can be made the day before.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 8 large egg whites
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 pinches salt
  • 5 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small chunks
  • Black gel food coloring, as needed

Combine whites, sugar, vanilla and salt in a bowl over a double boiler. Whisk until mixture is hot to the touch (175 degrees F) and the sugar has dissolved completely. Pour mixture into bowl of stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk at high speed until mix has cooled completely and a nice shiny, stiff meringue has formed. Add in butter in little pieces at a time and mix until all butter has been incorporated and the mix has come together. The buttercream may separate but if you keep mixing, it will come back together.

White Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 5 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • Red gel food coloring, as needed
  • Brown gel food coloring, as needed

Combine heavy cream and chocolate in microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments until chocolate has fully melted and the mixture is combined. Add in colors until a nice “blood red” color has been reached. Can be made ahead of time and reheated/melted when ready to use.

Chocolate Spiderweb

  • Black candy melts, as needed

Grey Chocolate Blood Splatter Shards

  • White chocolate candy melts, as needed
  • Black chocolate candy melts, as needed
  • Red gel food coloring, as needed
  • Vodka or clear vanilla extract, as needed

Melt white and black candy melts together to create your desired grey color. Once melted, spread onto a piece of parchment paper until it’s nice and thin but still able to hold shape once set. Once it sets, flip it over onto another piece of parchment paper and peel off the original piece so you now have the flat side facing up. Mix the vodka or extract with the red food color to create almost like a paint. Wear gloves (highly recommended) and dip your fingers in the paint. Flick your fingers onto the white chocolate to create “blood splatter.” That’s the fun part! Let dry. Once dry break into random sized shards to be used to decorate the cake.


  • Oreo Crumbs, as needed


Cake Assembly

  1. Take your cooled chocolate cakes and cut off the tops so you now have a level surface. Cut the two cakes in half evenly so you have four layers of cake total.
  2. Separate your buttercream into two bowls. Color one bowl of buttercream black, and color the other one a medium gray color. Put the black buttercream into a plastic piping bag and start to build your cake.
  3. Make a border around the bottom layer of cake with the black buttercream. Place about 1 ¼ cups of strawberry filling into the center of the border and spread evenly.
  4. Continue with each layer until you have reached the top layer, so once the cake is built you should have four layers of cake, and three layers of filling. Place in refrigerator to set, about 30 minutes.
  5. Fill up another piping bag with the gray buttercream and refill your bag with more black buttercream.
  6. Once cake is set, remove from cooler and pipe the black food coloring around the outside bottom of the cake until about the middle of the cake. Then pipe the gray buttercream around the top portion of the cake. Take an offset spatula or bench scraper and smooth out the sides of the cake until the sides of the cake are completely smooth and the top is level. You are going for an “ombre” look, where the dark cream gradually blends into the lighter buttercream. Place cake in the freezer while you prepare the ganache.
  7. Prepare ganache (see above recipe). Once made, take out cake, place ganache in a piping bag, cut a very small hole and pipe around the edge of the cake so the ganache “drips” down the side. Once you have gone around the entire cake, fill in the top with the remaining ganache. Put in refrigerator to set. While you wait, melt the black candy melts. Once melted take out the cake, place the candy melts in a piping bag or a parchment piping bag and pipe a spiderweb design on the top.
  8. Once the spider web design has been piped, place your blood splatter shards on the cake as desired. Sprinkle Oreo crumbs around shards as desired to create a “dirt” effect.

Related Articles

Latest Articles