Here in Australia it’s the middle of Summer. It’s hot, the mangoes are cheap and plentiful, and it’s a little hard to get right into the Christmas spirit. We all read the classic Christmas books, and watch Hollywood holiday movies just like everyone else. And it’s hard to ignore the snow falling in every scene, the cozy looking log fires, and everyone wearing ugly, snuggly sweaters.
I’ll be honest with you…I’m a little jealous. Summer is great! I’m not denying that for a second. But when the Christmas tree is up, even after 25 years, it still feels a little wrong to be heading to the beach to go swimming. And that’s why I find myself gravitating to desserts like this one that look as if they’re carpeted in snow.
This Chocolate Tiramisu Layer Cake is almost a lazy person’s Buche de Noel; if you squint, it could easily be a snow-covered log fresh from the forest floor. But I love the way that with its thick swathes of mascarpone frosting, and draped redcurrants, it looks like it’s come from the holiday banquet of some Frost Queen’s castle. Like the food of Narnia, if Narnia wasn’t so obsessed with Turkish Delight. The recipe itself couldn’t be simpler, and it dispenses with the raw eggs of traditional tiramisu. The layers are an easy chocolate sponge that takes only minutes to bake in a sheet pan, and the layers are then brushed with coffee and slathered in a mascarpone mix, sweetened and flavoured with vanilla and a dash of rum (extra holiday spirit!). This is the perfect thing for a holiday dinner, whether it actually is freezing, or you just wish it was. Happy Holidays!
Chocolate Tiramisu Layer Cake
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup sugar, plus 2 tbsp
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup plain flour
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder, plus extra to decorate
- 1/3 cup strong black coffee (or 2 shots of espresso)
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp dark rum (or more, to taste)
- Optional: redcurrants, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 350F, and line a 12x9inch baking sheet with non stick baking paper. Place the eggs, ½ cup sugar and salt into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a bowl with electric beaters) and whip on a high speed until the mixture has tripled in volume, is a very pale apricot colour, and is quite thick (about 5 minutes). Sift over the flour and cocoa powder, and the fold them into the mixture, just until they are incorporated. Scrape the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread out evenly (try not to knock all the air out), and then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until matte and springing back when touched lightly. Set aside to cool completely.
To assemble the cake, trim the edges and cut into three equal rectangles. Place one of the rectangles onto a serving dish, and brush generously with the coffee. Place the mascarpone, cream, vanilla and rum into a bowl or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip just until it thickens and holds a medium peak (aka thick, but not too stiff). Spread a third of the mascarpone onto the cake layer, and then repeat with the remaining cake, coffee and mascarpone until all three layers are assembled. Dust with extra cocoa and decorate with red currants if desired.