I’m late by a week, but it’s definitely not too late to tell you about the fabulous chocolate cake that I prepared to celebrate my birthday this year because it’s a cake you don’t want to miss out on.
Given that one only turns 25 (!) once, I decided I deserved all the calories of a decadent layered chocolate cake, with a rich and festive chocolate frosting, something quite uncommon in Italy.
In Italy, people usually celebrate birthdays with something similar to a Victoria sponge filled with whipped cream (or pastry cream) and berries, and cakes are hardly ever frosted – frosting itself is really not a food italians consume. However, I had recently seen online a recipe for an American chocolate cake that looked legitimately “sexy”, if that adjective can be used to define a cake, so I started working to create something similar, adapting the American cake, which was a calorie bomb packed with sugar, to a more Italian taste.
In the end, I made myself a very fluffy chocolate cake, which I filled and covered with voluptuous chocolate and mascarpone cheese frosting.
So let’s start with the cake recipe, which will yield the two cake disks you see stacked one on top of the other in the picture. It would have been possible to slice those two disks into two and make four layers, but I didn’t feel the need to do that.
Fluffy Chocolate Cake
- 185 g cake flour (all-purpose is fine too)
- 300 g sugar
- 85 g unsweetened cocoa
- 7 g baking powder
- 7 g baking soda
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 185 g buttermilk *
- 185 g Greek yogurt
- 100 g peanut or sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 175 ml boiling water or freshly brewed drip coffee
- Preheat the oven to 365°F and line two 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper (or grease and flour the pan if you prefer). I used two disposable aluminum pans for easier cleanup.
- In a large bowl (or in your stand mixer, if you have one) whisk together eggs, buttermilk, yogurt, oil, and vanilla; add sugar, then gradually mix in flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda.300 g sugar, 7 g baking powder, 7 g baking soda, 2 eggs at room temperature, 185 g buttermilk, 185 g Greek yogurt, 100 g peanut or sunflower oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 85 g unsweetened cocoa
- Pour in the water or coffee, and whisk slowly until the water has been well incorporated into the batter, which must be liquid enough to be poured into the cake pans without effort.175 ml boiling water or freshly brewed drip coffee
- Divide the batter into the two previously prepared cake pans and bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove the cake pans from the oven and let cool for a few minutes, then invert the cakes on a plate and let them cool completely.
- Proceed to assemble the cake with mascarpone frosting.
Once the cake is ready, here are the instructions for the chocolate mascarpone frosting, which we will use both as filling and as coating for our chocolate cake.
Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting
- 300 g dark chocolate
- 300 g whipping cream
- 50 g butter, at room temperature
- 250-300 g mascarpone cheese
- In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a gentle boil; in the meantime, coarsely chop the chocolate with a knife.300 g whipping cream
- Take the saucepan from the stove and stir chocolate and butter into the cream, like you would if you were making a simple ganache.50 g butter, at room temperature, 300 g dark chocolate
- Let the ganache cool for about half an hour, then whisk in the mascarpone (manually or in your stand mixer).250-300 g mascarpone cheese
- The amount of mascarpone is indicative: you can add more or less, depending on the desired frosting texture.
- When the mascarpone frosting is ready, you can use it to fill and cover the cake.
- Store the cake in the fridge until half an hour before serving. It will keep well for 3-4 days (maybe longer, but mine didn't last!).
Small note for those based outside the US/UK: buttermilk is what’s left when fresh cream is churned into butter; if you cannot find it where you live, you can make it at home as I explain here: it’s fun and educational!