Is there anything better for a baking fiend than getting a 2.5 kg bag of chocolate for Christmas? I think there is – when the bag in question is Lindt couverture and is accompanied by a chocolate recipe book (or two).
It seemed entirely appropriate for the gift (though definitely not needed after the Christmas holiday food binge) that the first time the bag was dipped into be for something impressive and decidedly chocolate. This cake combines the killer combination of chocolate and coffee with a super light and soft tower of sponge. The cake is not sickly sweet thanks to the filling made using mascarpone. Donna’s original recipe called for a dark chocolate ganache topping, but I found using milk chocolate for the topping made it a much more mellow and not as rich cake as it could have been. Easy to indulge in over a morning coffee.
Donna Hay’s title for this wonderful cake is a little subdued. It’s her ‘layered chocolate cake’, but it really deserves a much bigger title. So I have done her a favour and re-named it. I also reduced the quantities to fill my 18 cm sponge cake tins and made it a little more kid-friendly. You are welcome to be more exacting and end up (like Donna does) with perfectly neat layers and even amounts of filling..
Quadruple mega chocolate layer cake
- 165 g unsalted butter, softened
- 330 g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 180 g plain flour
- 45 g cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup milk
for the filling:
- 1-2 tablespoons espresso coffee granules (depending how strong you want it)
- 1 tablespoon boiling water
- 500 g mascarpone cheese
- 90 g icing sugar, sifted
- 80 ml liqueur (I use a couple of tablespoons of cointreau mixed with ¼ cup strawberry puree – it is for the kids after all!)
for the chocolate topping:
- 300 g milk chocolate (I use Lindt couverture milk chocolate – 37% cocoa solids, 32% cocoa butter), finely chopped
- 100 g single cream (35% fat content)
- Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan forced) and lightly grease and line two loose-bottomed cake tins (18 cm diameter).
- Use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to beat the butter and sugar on medium until light and creamy (about 10 minutes).
- Add the vanilla extract, then gradually add the eggs until fully combined.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl and gently fold this through the creamed butter, a third at a time, alternating with a little milk.
- Pour/spoon into the prepared tins and bake for 40-50 minutes until cooked when tested with a skewer.
- Allow to cool for ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely, before cutting each sponge horizontally to make two layers (four in total).
- Meanwhile, combine the coffee with the just-boiled water (allow to cool a bit), then mix through with the mascarpone cheese and icing sugar – do not beat this! Set aside in fridge until needed.
- Meanwhile, make the topping by heating the cream until steaming hot, then pouring over the chocolate and stirring until the chocolate is all melted and smooth. Set aside until needed.
- To assemble, place one layer of sponge on a plate and drizzle over ⅓ of the liqueur to cover as much of the surface as you can.
- Spoon over ⅓ of the mascarpone mix and smooth down.
- Top with a layer of sponge cake and repeat, then repeat again.
- Finally spread the icing all over the top and down the sides, making it all smooth with a palette knife.
- Store in the refrigerate, but allow to come to room temperature before devouring, as everything chocolate tastes better at room temperature and the sponge and mascarpone are delightfully soft and delicate.
- Serve with raspberries and some cream if desired.