In a few hours, Hubby, Dudette and I will be carrying this cake to party. We’re going to be ringing in 2012 with some good friends.
As I was cutting into the cake so you could see the inside, I thought about the fact that the people I will be with tonight won’t be surprised by the fact that there’s a wedge missing. What’s even better is that they won’t care (unless we run out of cake). That’s a sign of good friends.
I wanted my last dish of 2011 to be something memorable.Southern Living provided that in spades. The December issue features three gorgeous cakes. One was chocolate-based (no thanks), another featured peppermint (I’ve had enough for a year, thank you), but this third was an adaptation of Hubby’s favorite dessert; tiramisù. Bingo.
This is not a recipe that just throws itself together and leaves your kitchen looking anywhere as clean as when you started. Know that from the start and fill the sink with hot sudsy water.
Then beat butter and shortening together. No, this cake isn’t for the diet-conscious either. When ready, add sugar and beat until fluffy. That’s bowl number one.
In a second bowl, mix together milk and water. Pull out a third bowl and sift flour, salt and baking powder together. Alternating the two, add bowls two and three to bowl one. When all three bowls are combined into the one, add in vanilla and almond extracts.
Pull out bowls four and five. Separate six eggs, reserving the yolks for another use. Get some stiff peaks going with the whites, then fold them into the batter.
The batter goes into three cake pans, then gets baked until done. If you only have two pans (like me), that’s no problem. I simply cooked two of the layers, then did the third after they were done.
While the cake bakes, you can go ahead and make the coffee syrup. It’s a simple matter of finding a clean bowl and microwaving sugar and water in it. After the sugar dissolves, add strong coffee and some brandy. All done.
The Mascarpone Frosting shouldn’t be made until you’re ready to frost the cake. The mascarpone needs to be at room temperature so it has the consistency of room-temperature butter. Because mine wasn’t warm enough, it didn’t combine with the whipped cream as well as it should have.
Anyhow, stir up the mascarpone in a big bowl (how many is that now?) to loosen it up. In another bowl, add the vanilla, sugar and cream.
A quick pause here. The recipe calls for heavy cream, which I used. The cream is supposed to be whipped into stiff peaks. Because I used heavy cream instead of whipping cream, I never got peaks, just thick cream. I do not know why Southern Living would call for heavy cream instead of whipping cream, but please, please use whipping cream. Three cups is a lot to waste. I know. I did and had to run out to the store for whipping cream.
Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone and the frosting is done.
To assemble, put a cake layer on the stand. Poke holes all over the cake and pour the coffee syrup over the top, letting it soak down. Spread frosting on the cake and add another layer, poking holes and pouring syrup again. More frosting and the last cake layer gets added. Poke holes and pour on the syrup. Frost the rest of the cake and decorate as you wish. I used gold and silver sprinkles since it’s a New Year’s party.
Dudette begged off trying this since she isn’t allowed to have coffee or alcohol (that’s my girl). Hubby was about ready to dive into the whole cake so I told him to grab a fork and we shared the piece I had removed for the photo. He loved it and downed most of it. I thought it was very good but would have preferred it without the almond flavor.
I was also not all that excited by the frosting. The ratio of whipped cream to mascarpone seemed off. It was mostly whipped cream with some mascarpone flavor hints. (It didn’t bother Hubby at all.) While we were taste-testing, a friend wandered by with her dogs so we invited her in to give the cake a try as well. She gives it double thumbs-up. So, maybe the frosting thing is just me, but I like my cream cheesy frostings pretty nice and thick, not fluffy and whipped creamy.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d make a more traditional mascarpone cream for the frosting. I understand the concern about the raw egg yolks and figure that’s why Southern Living didn’t use them, but I like living dangerously, I guess. Especially since there are six egg yolks sitting in my fridge wondering why they weren’t used.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 egg whites
Coffee Syrup (below)
Mascarpone Frosting (below)
Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well.
Stir together milk and 2/3 cup water. Combine flour and next 2 ingredients; add to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla bean paste and almond extract.
Beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form, and fold into batter. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans.
Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).
Meanwhile, prepare Coffee Syrup.
Prepare Mascarpone Frosting. Pierce cake layers with a wooden pick, making holes 1 inch apart. Brush or spoon coffee Syrup over layers.
Place 1 cake layer, brushed side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread top with 1 1/3 cups Mascarpone Frosting. Top with second cake layer, brushed side up, and spread with 1 1/3 cups Mascarpone Frosting. Top with remaining cake layer, brushed side up. Spread top and sides of cake with remaining Mascarpone Frosting. Chill 4 hours before serving. Garnish, if desired.
Vanilla extract may be substituted for Vanilla Bean Paste.
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup strong brewed coffee
1/4 cup brandy
Combine sugar and 1/3 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high 1 1/2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved, stirring at 30-second intervals. Stir in coffee and brandy. Let cool 1 hour.
2 (8-oz.) packages mascarpone cheese
3 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
Stir mascarpone cheese in a large bowl just until blended.
Beat cream and vanilla at low speed with an electric mixer until foamy; increase speed to medium-high, and gradually add sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. (Do not overbeat or cream will become grainy.) Gently fold whipped cream mixture into mascarpone cheese. Use immediately.