Recipe

Coffee hazelnut cake with marsala dates

This decadent chocolate coffee cake layered with vanilla mascarpone cream piled high with sweet syrupy marsala-soaked dates is almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.

  • 40 mins preparation
  • 1 hr cooking
  • Serves 8
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Ingredients

Coffee hazelnut cake
  • 1 2/3 cup (260g) self-raising flour
  • 1 cup (100g) ground hazelnuts
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate (baking) soda
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 250 gram (8 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cup (370g) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
  • 1 cup (250ml) freshly-brewed strong black coffee
Marsala dates
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) marsala
  • 1/4 cup (55g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 12 fresh dates (240g), halved lengthways, pitted
Ricotta filling
  • 3 cup (720g) firm ricotta
  • 375 gram mascarpone
  • 3/4 cup (165g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Coffee hazelnut cake with marsala dates
  • 1
    Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease two deep 20cm round cake pans; line base and side with baking paper.
  • 2
    Sift flour, ground hazelnuts, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and salt into a medium bowl. Beat butter, extract and sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Transfer to a large bowl. Fold in combined sifted flour mixture, milk and coffee, in two batches (the mixture may look split at this stage). Spoon mixture evenly into pans.
  • 3
    Bake cakes for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand cakes in pans for 5 minutes before turning, top-side up, onto wire racks to cool.
  • 4
    Make marsala dates by stirring marsala and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium, add dates and cook, stirring for 6 minutes or until dates are just starting to soften. Remove from heat. Be careful not to over cook the dates in the syrup or they will lose their shape. Cool dates in marsala syrup. Cut dates into thin wedges.
  • 5
    Next make ricotta filling by processing ricotta, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla until just smooth and combined.
  • 6
    Split cakes in half. Place base of one cake onto a platter or cake stand and drizzle with a little syrup from marsala dates. Top with one-quarter of the ricotta mixture. Repeat layering with remaining cake, syrup and ricotta mixture, finishing with ricotta mixture. Top cake with dates and drizzle with remaining syrup.

Notes

Add to the sumptuousness of your dessert by including richly-hued fruits such as pomegranate, tamarillos and bunches of red grapes to dress the table.

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