Almond Nougatine Chocolate Mascarpone Cake
Inspirations come in all directions recently. Last week, it came in form of a bundle of nougatine, a nut caramel brittle made with pure sugar and almond slices. It's not that I want to sneak more sugar into your dessert, but folding in crushed nougatine into the ganache filling somehow has the same magical effect on people as feuilletine. It's gives a fine, even crunch that won't go unnoticed, but subtle and certainly intriguing. If you don't have nougatine, any nut brittle, or even sesame brittle will do the job.
This cake is certainly rich, but with just the right amount of tartness to cut through the deep chocolate and caramel notes. I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe, borrowed from The Stay at Home Chef. It's a truly brilliant recipe, so moist and versatile, and freezes extremely well. In fact, this cake came about because I happen to have one in my freezer.
Mascarpone is an Italian cheese most commonly used in tiramisu. It's thick and luscious on it's own, but notoriously fickle to cook with. When mixing mascarpone with cream, make sure all your ingredients are tempered at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. I know, you've been taught to whip cream straight from the fridge all your life, but trust me on this. If the mascarpone frosting curdles, don't panic. Similar to a buttercream, it can be saved by gently warming over a bain marie, and whipping until smooth and without lumps. If it gets too runny at any point, simply chill until it firms up and repeat the process.
Nougatine Chocolate Mascarpone Cake
Makes one 6" round cake. Serves 6-8.
2 large eggs
175ml warm water
58ml vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake:
225g all-purpose flour
300g granulated sugar
78g unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tablespoon baking soda
¾ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons salt
- Preheat the oven to 350℉. Butter and flour three 6" cake round. Tap out excess flour and set aside.
- In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with a whisk, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt on low speed. Add the eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat on a medium speed until the batter is smooth and homogenous; do not over mix.
- Divide batter among the three baking pans; use a scale if you want to be more accurate.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting the cakes onto the racks. Allow to cool completely.
- Cooled cakes can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
For the mascarpone frosting:
180g heavy whipping cream
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
227g mascarpone cheese, chilled
- In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with a whisk, whip the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks.
- Add in the mascarpone cheese and continue whipping until smooth and creamy. Adjust with heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time.
- If the mixture curdles, gently heat over a bain marie and whip until smooth and lump-free.
- If the mixture becomes too soft, chill until it firms up and whip again. Repeat if necessary.
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a #3 round tip.
For the nougatine ganache:
150g dark chocolate
150g heavy cream
28g unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
- Chop the dark chocolate into small pieces and transfer to a heatproof bowl.
- In a small saucepan, heat the cream until the edges just start to bubble. Pour over the dark chocolate and allow sit for around 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the nougatine in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until they turn into small pieces that won't break your teeth.
- Starting from the center, gently whisk the melted chocolate, and slowly incorporate the cream on the outer edge. When the mixture is smooth and homogenous, add the butter and salt and mix until combined.
- Fold in crushed nougatine and chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, until the ganache reaches the consistency of toothpaste. Transfer to a piping bag.
- With a serrate knife, trim the tops of the chocolate cakes. With a gentle sawing motion, cut the cake into three layers, rotating the cake as you move the knife towards the center.
- Place one cake layer on a turntable on top of a piece of cardboard.
- Pipe a half inch layer of ganache in a spiral, starting from the outside. With a straight spatula, gently spread the ganache so there are no gaps. Place a cake layer on top, and repeat with the second layer.
- When the cake is filled, place the last cake layer on top and gently press so that the ganache oozes out just a hair.
- Crumb coat with mascarpone frosting, chill for 15-20 minutes and frost cake with remaining mascarpone frosting.
- Decorate the sides with a cake comb, or any design you desire. Pipe dots of mascarpone on the top and decorate with shards of nougatine.