Friday, June 28, 2019


One of the things I like the most about summery, fruity cakes is how fragrant they are. Of course they can be made at any point during the year, but really nothing can mimic the sweet scent of fresh, ripe fruit. This lovely little cake is a perfect mix of fresh berries, chocolate, and hazelnuts. It all starts with a soft Mascarpone and toasted hazelnut base, followed by a layer of smooth white chocolate ganache, a layer of luscious raspberry jelly, and finally, everything is crowned by a layer of extra dark chocolate ganache.
If you are like me, and like to toast the hazelnuts yourself, toast them well, until they become very fragrant, and the skins become papery and start to almost flake off. Toast them slowly, however, over medium-high heat, moving them around occasionally, to prevent burning. Doing this will enhance their flavour immensely. When they are nice and toasted, wrap them in a kitchen towel, and gently remove the skins, before letting them cool down even further before blending.
Use fresh raspberries in this little gem, as they will give the best possible flavour and aroma to the jelly. I do not mind the little raspberry seeds in my desserts, but if you want a completely clear jelly, strain them really well after cooking, and discard the seeds. Of course, feel free to add some Chambord to the raspberry layer right as you remove it from the heat.
As for the chocolate, I chose a 99% cocoa solids chocolate bar, simply because I love the combination of dark chocolate and raspberries, but feel free to choose any chocolate bar with over 50% of cocoa. This layer needs to be stronger in flavour; smooth, but not overly sweet. It nicely balances the overall sweetness of the cake.
A final note I have is about the gelatine used – I use bronze gelatine, which is the 140 bloom gelatine. If you wish to use a stronger gelatine (225 or 300 bloom), please adjust the amount according to the package directions, because the jelly layer still needs to be slightly soft, and not resemble gummy candy.

For the toasted hazelnut-Mascarpone base
250 grams Mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
50 grams butter, softened
250 grams wafer cookies, ground
100 grams toasted hazelnuts, ground
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the white chocolate ganache
200 grams real white chocolate
60 ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the fresh raspberry jelly layer
300 grams fresh raspberries
60 ml cold water
100 grams granulated sugar
10 grams unflavoured beef gelatine
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
For the dark chocolate ganache
100 grams extra dark chocolate (90% cocoa)
100 grams dark chocolate (50% cocoa)
200 ml double cream
For the decoration
150 ml double cream
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
frozen raspberries, to garnish

First prepare the white chocolate ganache, as it will take some time to set, because it is the softest of all the layers in the cake. Take a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, and place it over medium heat. Add in the chopped up white chocolate and the double cream. Let everything melt together slowly, stirring gently, and being very careful not to let the mixture burn. If necessary, lower the temperature, and keep stirring. When fully melted, remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let it cool down to room temperature.
Place a small round cake ring (15 cm) on the serving platter, and line it with a tall acetate strip; this will be especially useful if you cake ring is not tall enough, as the acetate will hold in all the layers. Once the pan is prepared, crush the wafers in a food processor by pulsing, because you need crumbs, not a paste. Pour the crumbs into a medium bowl, and reserve. Grind the hazelnuts in the same fashion, and add them to the wafer crumbs. Finally, add in the room temperature Mascarpone, butter, and the vanilla. Blend everything with a strong electric mixer on low, until well combined. Once the base is prepared, press it into the base of the cake ring. The batter will be slightly sticky, so be patient with it, and spread it evenly.
Pour over the white chocolate ganache, tap the platter a few times gently on the table, to bring out any air bubbles to the surface, and place it in the refrigerator for a few hours, until firm. This layer needs to be firm enough before adding another two layers, because it soft, and if you do not chill it well enough, the raspberry jelly will sink into it.
For the raspberry jelly, start by placing the fresh raspberries into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and sprinkling in the granulated sugar. Let them sit at room temperature for about an hour or two, to release their juice. When ready to make jelly, place the gelatine into a small bowl, add four tablespoons of cold water, and set it aside. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat, add in the water, as well as the lemon zest, and let the mix come to a boil slowly.
Once they start bubbling, keep cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes, until the liquid reduces a little, and the berries are broken down. Remove from the heat, add in the bloomed gelatine, and mix until it is fully dissolved. Set the pan in a cool place until the liquid starts to set (about an hour in a really warm kitchen, or about 15 minutes in the refrigerator). Once cool and starting to set, carefully, a spoonful at a time, pour it over the firm white chocolate ganache, level it, and place the entire cake platter in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Once the jelly has firmed up, make the dark chocolate ganache. Chop up both types of chocolate and bring the double cream almost to a boil, then pour it over the chocolate and set it aside so it starts to melt. Mix the ganache vigorously with a spatula until everything is melted, then let it cool down to room temperature, so it is cool to the touch, but still pourable. Pour it over the jelly, and tap the cake gently on the counter a few times, then place the cake back into the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
When you are ready to serve, whip up the double until soft peaks form, then add in the cocoa powder and the vanilla, and whip until stiff peaks form. Place the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large nozzle, and take the cake out of the fridge. Remove the cake ring, then slowly and carefully peel off the acetate. Top the top of the cake with rosettes or dollops of the whipped cream, add some frozen raspberries, and serve. Yields 10 servings.