You know the one. When you have company and serve it, all you can hear are sighs of pleasure around the table. People go crazy over it. The paparazzi chase it around town.
Alright, I may be exaggerating just a tad--but you get the point. Everyone has a cake in their repertoire that looks insanely time-consuming, tastes amazing, and takes just a few minutes to put together. And no, I'm not even talking about anything requiring a box mix. The secret ingredient here is...ladyfingers.
Last year, I was off to Saint Dié for a Summer weekend with my family during my Maman's stay in France. The day before I arrived, she asked me if I wanted to eat any type of cake in particular. I didn't have to think much before the words spurted out of my mouth:
Mascarpone. Raspberry. Layer Cake. Almonds.
I could never really put the name of this cake into words: what it really is, I can hardly describe. Like a fluffy mountain of cake, moist layers hidden between cloud-like mascarpone mousse...and fresh, juicy raspberries. Imagine all this, encased in a layer of toasted slivered almonds.
Before hanging up with Maman on the phone, I mentioned one last thing: "Don't bake this cake if it's too time-consuming, though."
You know those paintings of the Holy Light? Pardon the blasphemy, but I saw the clouds part and spears of bright, beautiful sunlight bear down on me right at that moment. My beloved cake doesn't even go near an oven, yet it becomes a beautiful, beautiful thing.
My advice here would be not to make your own ladyfingers. If you do, this just becomes a regular--albeit amazing and unforgettable--time-consuming cake. If you can find fine, fresh ladyfingers (if you live in France, you can), don't pass up the opportunity to be in on the secret.
Let others taste, but don't divulge a single thing. This is a secret you'll enjoy keeping--but let's keep it between us, alright?
Raspberry Mascarpone Cake
serves six to eight
Note: I made a small version of this cake by diving the whole recipe by five.
for the cake:
500g / 1 lb. fresh raspberries
40 fresh ladyfingers
350g / 1.5 c. mascarpone
30cl / 1 and 1/4 c. whipping cream, very cold
125g / scant 3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 TS vanilla extract
for the syrup:
125g / 1 c. confectioner's sugar
3 TB raspberry eau de vie (feel free to substitute any alcohol you like)
30cl / 1 and 1/4 c. water
80g / 1/2 c. slivered almonds
Make syrup: Heat water and confectioenr's sugar in a saucepan until sugar dissolves. Add alcohol and remove from heat.
Make mascarpone cream: Beat mascarpone, granulated sugar, and vanilla together.
In a cold bowl, beat whipping cream to stiff peaks. Delicately oncorporate mascarpone mixture and set aside.
Dip lady fingers one by one in syrup, without getting them too wet, and place in bottom of a 9 in ch springform or classic cake pan.
Spread 1/3 of mousse on top. Add 1/2 of the raspberries.
Add another layer of ladyfingers dipped in syrup, 1/3 of the mousse and 1/2 of the raspberries. Finish off with another layer of ladyfingers dipped in syrup.
Refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight. Refrigerate remaining mousse.
An hour before serving:
Toast slivered almonds in a dry skillet or in the oven.
Place cake on a plate and frost with remaining 1/3 of the mousse. Decorate with toasted slivered almonds and fresh raspberries.
Refrigerate another hour before serving.