FOR THE CAKE
1. Preheat oven to 340 degrees F. Butter and flour three 6-inch pans. I use cake strips on my pans for more even baking as well.
2. Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Beat the wet ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add lemon zest.
4. Don't worry if you still have small chunks of butter, it will all work out!
5. Add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in dried raspberries at the very end and mix until just combined.
6. Divide the mixture evenly into the cake pans.
7. Bake at for about 25-30 minutes or until the centers are springy to the touch.
FOR THE WHITE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM
1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter.
2. Add confectioners sugar and salt. Beat until creamy.
3. Add in melted and cooled white chocolate. Mix until incorporated and smooth.
4. Divide batter in half.
5. Add vanilla to one batch.
6. In a small saucepan over medium low heat combine raspberry juice, lemon juice, lemon zest and sugar. Mash and heat for a minute. Bring to a simmer. Simmer until reduced by half. Transfer to a small bowl and chill.
7. Add 2 1/2 tbsp. of the reduction to the other batch of buttercream. If the consistency become runny, mix in confectioners sugar 2 tbsp. at a time until thickened.
8. Transfer both batches to separate piping bags with the tips snipped off. Add the 2 piping bags to another piping bag fitter with a large round tip or with the tip snipped off.
FOR THE ITALIAN BUTTERCREAM
1. Beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar, slowly add in 1/3 cup of sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form.
2. In a medium saucepan add the remaining sugar and 1/3 cup water then place on medium-low heat.
3. Stir until sugar melts and becomes clear.
4. Maintain at medium-high heat until temperature reads 235-240F.
5. Drizzle the sugar into the mixer immediately.
6. Run mixer until meringue is cool/tepid.
7. Add room temperature butter into running mixer one tablespoon piece at a time.
8. Add the salt and vanilla if using.
9. Beat until butter is combined and mixture has reached a silky consistency.
10. Divide into 5 bowls. Keep one bowl white. Add food coloring to each batch to achieve a gradient look.
11. Transfer colors to separate piping bags.
FOR THE HEARTS
1. Line up 3 printable heart sheets to use as a guideline or stencil. Add a layer of parchment paper over the sheets.
2. Microwave candy melts. Transfer to a piping bag and snip off the tip.
3. Pipe hearts according to the stencil.
4. Let the hearts cool and harden.
FOR THE ASSEMBLY
1. Pipe the pink/white chocolate buttercream combo between each cake layer.
2. Cover the cake with a thin crumb coat and chill for about 10-15 minutes.
3. Once the cake has chilled, start the Italian buttercream gradient with the white, then work your way up from bottom to top.
4. Carefully smooth with an offset spatula.
5. Add hearts to the cake.
You can sub in fresh raspberries for the freeze dried ones. Just cut them into smaller pieces so they don't turn into puddles in your cake and destabilize things.