Monday, March 8, 2010

Ciao Italia!

We just returned from Italy and I think I'm still suffering from a bit of jet lag. We spent a little bit of time in Florence and Rome; both were amazing cities full of history, art and good food! Italy has about as many gelaterias as they do churches, and I think I tried them all.

The Italians do not mess around when it comes to their sweets...oh, or their coffee and wine.

So, I thought I would make something for my co-worker's birthday that uses mascarpone and a dessert wine that I recently discovered called Vin Santo. The original recipe calls for Fino Sherry which I substituted with the Vin Santo because it's delicious and I wanted it to be Italiano-inspired (sorry Spain, maybe next trip).

Mascarpone-Filled Cake with Sherried Berries
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2008 Issue

For cake:
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
For berries:
    • 1/2 cup Fino Sherry [I substituted it for Vin Santo, an Italian dessert wine]
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 4 cups mixed berries, cut if large
    For cream:
      •  8 ounces mascarpone (1 cup)
      • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
      • 1/4 cup sugar
      • confectioners sugar (to garnish, optional)
      Make cake:
      Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep). Line bottom with a round of parchment paper, then butter parchment.

      Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

      Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer at low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing after each addition until just combined.

      Spread batter in cake pan, smoothing top. Rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles.

      Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Discard paper and reinvert cake onto rack to cool completely.

      Macerate berries:
      Bring wine and sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Put berries in a bowl and pour hot syrup over them, gently tossing to coat. Let stand 15 minutes.

      Make cream and assemble cake:
      Beat mascarpone and cream with sugar in a large bowl using cleaned beaters until mixture just holds stiff peaks.

      Halve cake horizontally with a long serrated knife. Carefully remove top half and reserve. Put bottom half on a plate, then spread evenly with all of cream and replace top half. Serve with berries.


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