Prep 1 hr
Cook 30 mins
This treasured recipe is unlike any I'd ever seen, but had tasted in fancy restaurants. It has a few extra steps, but once you've had this perfect ratio of custard (missing in most recipes), sponge cake, and coffee, you will never go back! Recipe from Mercedes Zezza, Naples from Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts. Note: the directions are long but specific to ensure a perfect dessert.
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 pinch salt
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1⁄4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
- 1⁄4 cup sifted cornstarch
- 2 cups milk
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1⁄4 cup butter, cut into pieces (1/2 stick butter)
- 1⁄4 cup light rum or 1⁄4 cup cognac
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3⁄4 cup mascarpone cheese
- 2 cups strong espresso, for moistening cake (or less)
- 3 -4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Lightly butter 8 or 9 inch springform pan.
- Line bottom pan with wax paper(lightly buttered and floured) cut to fit.
- In a bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they form soft peaks, and gradually beat in the sugar.
- Beat until whites are just stiff, no longer.
- In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and vanilla until blended.
- Fold in about 1/4 of the beaten whites.
- Pour the egg yolk mixture into the beaten whites.
- Sprinkle the sifted flour and cornstarch through a strainer over the egg whites.
- Fold together thoroughly, without over mixing.
- Spread the batter in the prepared pan, tilting gently so the batter spreads to the edges.
- Bake until the edges are set and the cake is golden, about 25-30 minutes.
- Cool the cake in the pan for a few minutes and invert the cake onto a wire rack, peeling carefully the paper.
- Let cool completely on rack.
- Wash your pan since you will be using it again.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, scald all but two tablespoons of the milk with the sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves.
- In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the reserved cold milk and the flour.
- Gradually pour about 1/2 of the hot milk into the yolk mixture and whisk constantly.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil.
- Boil (keep stirring) for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and strain the custard (if necessary) into a clean bowl.
- Whisk in the butter, rum or cognac, and vanilla.
- Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface to prevent a "skin" from forming.
- Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.
- In a bowl, lighten the mascarpone by folding it over itself a few times with a rubber spatula and mashing gently, if necessary.
- Cover and chill until you are ready to assemble the cake.
- Assembling the cake:.
- With a serrated knife, cut the cake horizontally into 3 equal layers.
- Place the bottom layer in the springform pan.
- Drizzle and brush it with part of the espresso, soaking it generously.
- Gently top the cake with 1/3 of the custard.
- Repeat with another layer of cake, more espresso, and more custard.
- For the top layer, moisten the cut surface of the cake with espresso and invert it, browned side up in pan.
- Gently spread with the remaining custard, smoothing the surface.
- Sift some of the cocoa in an even layer over the top of the cake.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour so the cake will be well chilled and the layers will set.
- Sprinkle a little more cocoa over the top before serving in wedges.