Everyone thinks I am weird for making my own birthday cakes but I like GOOD cakes; store bought cakes are just okay and I would never want my husband to bake one! My favorite cakes are hazelnut torte, (not really a cake) which is a big project and this easy Italian inspired chocolate cake, made from a mix with a yummy not-too-sweet satisfying ricotta filling.
First, bake your favorite mix according to the directions in 9" rounds; I add the zest form one orange and 1/2 tsp almond extract to the mix for more flavor. I cool and freeze cake until needed.
For the filling, I chop 1/2c each toasted almonds, semi-sweet chocolate, dried cherries, candied ginger, zest from one orange and add to 15 oz ricotta cheese, along with 1 T Grand Marnier or Brandy, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract
Whip up 1/2 c heavy cream with 3 T sugar and gently fold into mixture. Filling should be slightly sweet; may need to add 1T more sugar but you don't want it too sweet because the cake is super sweet!