Chocolate Maraschino Layer Cake😋😋😋😋

This recipe will make one 4-by-8-inch rectangle layer cake. For an 8-inch square cake, simply double the recipe and bake in two 8-by-8-inch pans.

Ingredients:
For Chocolate Cake:
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, divided
1 cup (125g) all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup (60g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 ounces (60g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup very hot water
1 tablespoon brandy (if omitted, increase vanilla to 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk (save the white for the buttercream!)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
For Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
4 large egg whites (120g)
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup maraschino syrup (strained from a jar of maraschino cherries)
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature (68 degrees), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon brandy
3 ounces (85g) dark chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
Directions:
For Chocolate Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-by-8-inch straight-sided baking pan with parchment paper; lightly butter parchment and set aside.
In a bowl, mix together 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder.
In a medium bowl, place chopped chocolate along with remaining 50 grams sugar. Heat water until almost boiling, then pour over chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth. Set aside and let cool to lukewarm, then whisk in vanilla and brandy.
In a large bowl, whisk egg and egg yolk until lightened and frothy. Whisk in buttermilk and vegetable oil. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Add dry ingredients and fold until just incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared baking pan, spreading into an even layer.
Bake for 28 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool completely. If you want, place a slightly smaller, flat-bottomed baking pan on top of the cooling cake: this will gently flatten any dome on top of the cake and save you time trimming later (lightly butter the bottom of the second pan to prevent sticking).
At this point you can freeze the cooled cake, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 month.
For Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
Combine egg whites, sugar, salt and maraschino syrup in a double boiler (or use your metal stand mixer bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water–the bottom of the bowl should sit over, not touch, the water below). Whisk vigorously until frothy and warm to the touch (will read 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer) and sugar is completely dissolved.
Return bowl to stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until bowl is cool to the touch (will read approximately 70 degrees F) and meringue has whipped into stiff, glossy peaks.
Switch over to the paddle attachment.
With the mixer running on medium speed, add 1 chunk of butter at a time, increasing speed and mixing until butter is completely incorporated before adding the next piece. Your buttercream will start to soften, going from stiff peaks to soft soup. If at any point it begins to curdle, stop adding butter and increase mixer speed to high, beating until it comes together again before adding the remaining butter.
Add vanilla, almond extract and brandy and beat until incorporated.
Transfer about 1 cup of buttercream (230 grams if you want to be exact) to a separate bowl, and fold in lukewarm chocolate until evenly incorporated.
Add food coloring as desired to remaining buttercream, mixing until color is evenly distributed.

At this point, finished buttercream can be refrigerated or frozen until ready to use (transfer to a zip-top bag or press a layer of plastic wrap over the surface of the buttercream so it doesn’t come into contact with the air). If chilled, be sure you let your buttercream come fully to room temperature (which could take upwards of 1-2 hours) before assembling your cake.