Chocolate & Mascarpone Cake

The idea from this beautifully rich cake comes from this post in the La Tarte Maison blog by Marina. Her creation is in turn derived from another food blogger’s chocolate cake, which you can find here. Independently from whomever first thought this recipe up, however, please make sure to try this cake. I added my own personal touch by mixing some leftover dulce de leche in the filling and the result is amazing.

It’s a 3-layered chocolate sponge cake with a mascarpone, cream cheese and dulce de leche filling, covered by a thick chocolate ganache and decorated with chocolate roses on top. The measurements you will find below for the chocolate ganache may sound a bit over the top, but believe me you will thank me when you have a bit of leftover ganache as you will need quite a lot to ice the entire cake and make the roses too. It is also a very big cake, therefore it is perfect for a celebration or a birthday.

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Ingredients (for the cake)

  • 375g plain flour, sifted
  • 4 large eggs
  • 125g cocoa
  • 500ml water, freshly boiled
  • 500g golden caster sugar
  • 250g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 300ml double cream
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 250g full-fat cream cheese
  • 30g dulce de leche
  • 50g icing sugar

Ingredients (for the icing)

  • 650g dark chocolate
  • 400ml double cream
  • 50g apricot jam

Method

  1. First, butter and line a 26cm springform tin. Then, move on to prepare the sponge.
  2. Boil the kettle and measure out 500ml water, then mix the cocoa powder in and leave the resulting mixture to cool before proceeding any further.
  3. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer (or in a bowl, if you are doing it by hand), combine the butter and the sugar until you get a sandy texture, then mix in the eggs and the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the rising agents.
  4. Mix for a good 5 minutes at medium speed or until the mixture looks pale and fluffy. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 170C.
  5. Reduce the speed to slow, add half of the flour mixture then, as soon as that has been folded in, pour in the whole of the chocolate water mixture and fold well. Finally, add the rest of the flour mixture. Your batter should be fluffy and dark but not too heavy.
  6. Pour the mixture in the prepared tin, then bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check whether the cake is ready with a skewer, then remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Ideally, once cooled you should transfer the sponge to the fridge and leave to set and harden overnight. However, if you are in a rush, just let it cool down at room temperature until stone cold, then move on to the next step.
  7. Using a serrated knife (or a really sharp one), slice the cake in three horizontally. Lay each layer on a piece of baking parchment and set aside while you prepare the filling.
  8. Mix the mascarpone with the cream cheese and the dulce de leche until you get a very smooth mixture.
  9. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream with the icing sugar until it gets very stiff, then carefully and slowly fold that into the cream cheese and mascarpone mixture. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  10. Once that is done, you can start assembling the cake.
  11. Choose the least good looking cake layer and put that on the cake board/stand you will build your cake on. Use your best looking one for the top layer. Remove the filling from the fridge.
  12. Transfer half of the filling to a piping bag without nozzle, then snip the end off and carefully pipe on top of the first layer so as to cover it all (I did this in concentric circles starting from the outer one). Cover with the other sponge layer and repeat the procedure, using the rest of the filling. Cover with the last and third sponge layer.
  13. In a pan, gently warm the apricot jam, then spread it on top of the cake. This will prevent the ganache from being absorbed by the cake sponge and will guarantee a smooth finish as it will hold the cake crumbs together.
  14. Put the cake in the fridge and leave to rest for at least 1 hour.
  15. Last step, the ganache. Break up the chocolate and roughly chop it, then transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Pour the cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  16. Remove the cream from the heat and gently pour on to the chopped chocolate, then leave to stand for 3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to combine it and to ensure all of the chocolate melts with the cream. Keep on stirring until the mixture is a dark brown colour and perfectly smooth. Leave on the side until cooled down.
  17. Once cool, put in the fridge to harden up for 10 minutes, then remove the cake and the ganache from the fridge and get ready to ice.
  18. Use a spatula to spoon about half of the ganache on the top and sides of the cake. Aim for a very smooth finish. Try and be quick as the ganache will harden in no time, especially if spread very thinly. Transfer the remaining ganache to a piping bag equipped with a star nozzle.
  19. Pipe small roses on top of the cake, then fill in any gaps with small stars. To pipe roses, make sure you hold the piping bag slightly above your cake, then pipe small swirls starting from the inside and slowly building on the outside. By being slightly away from the surface to be iced, you ensure the icing falls back on itself and gently turns, creating a small rose. You can pipe the roses in a circle and then fill the circle with more roses or opt for a more adventurous design.
  20. Dust the cake with some icing sugar for a more dramatic effect (optional). Put the cake back in the fridge for an hour before serving it.

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