To be perfectly honest, this wasn’t going to be this week’s blog post. But life catches up with me every day, and St. Valentine’s Day caught up with me. Passionfruit and berry cake with mascarpone icing seemed very appropriate for the occasion. A day of love, a day of passion, right? So even though I don’t like posting two desserts in a row (remember the lemon meringue tart from last week?), an exception was called for.
So what do you have prepared for tomorrow, February 14? Maybe dinner out? Or a romantic dinner at home? If this is the case, I suggest you end your meal with this passionfruit and berry cake with mascarpone icing, I promise it won’t disappoint. I know it might look a bit intimidating, but I promise you it’s not hard to make —I don’t consider myself a baker, and if I can make it, you can make it. The passionfruit gives the cake a tangy, refreshing taste, and the mascarpone icing makes it sweet but not overwhelmingly so. The cake incorporates two very Spanish ingredients in desserts, almond flour and orange blossom water, that contributes to the citrusy flavor. It almost looks like a spring cake, doesn’t it? The thing is, St. Valentines Day is associated with chocolate, but somehow, this year, with the relatively mild winter weather and barely any snow, I was fancying something different.
Call me strange, but I don’t find St. Valentine’s Day excessively romantic, but more so, a very commercialized day in which we’re supposed to celebrate with our loved one and our loved ones. See, I like to do that every day! I don’t mind it when the feast falls on a weekend, because going out to dinner on a weekend is not an obvious Valentine’s dinner. Sometimes I think my feelings towards St. Valentine’s Day got engrained in my upbringing: my parents married February 17, which on the year of their marriage, was a Tuesday. But in reality, the day they had their wedding scheduled, was the previous Saturday, February 14. When they realized that Saturday was St. Valentine’s Day, they rushed to change their wedding day (thankfully not many people marry on a Tuesday, or in February, so both priest and restaurant were available, even the Cathedral of Valencia, where they married, was available!) My parents thought it was a bit too cute, maybe even a bit tacky, to marry on St. Valentine’s Day. So I know I’m not the only person in this world that has this thing with this festivity.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to celebrate love. And what better way is there to celebrate love than cooking for the people you love? So this year, with St. Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, we’ve decided not to go out, and instead will have a lovely dinner at home with special treats (and dinner out next weekend!)
On a side note, this Thursday, February 16, I will be Cort’s guest at “Cort in the Morning” on WHNH 101.3fm. Tune in to know more about Spanish cooking, or about Mama Ía blog.
And on another side note, have you seen my new apron? Hand-painted by my amazing sister Paula! You can check more of her work here, and follow her on Instagram @paula_sanz_caballero. I’m on Instagram too @natachasanzcaballero You can check there many more of the dishes I cook daily.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day everyone!
PASSIONFRUIT AND BERRY CAKE WITH MASCARPONE ICING
Tarta de Fruto de la Pasión y Frutos del Bosque con Crema de Mascarpone
For a two layer 9-inch cake
For the cake:
2 cups almond flour
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup natural yogurt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbs orange blossom water
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1 Tbs butter (for greasing the pans)
1 cup blackberries and raspberries
Icing sugar, for dusting
For the passionfruit sauce:
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbs butter
For the mascarpone icing:
16 oz mascarpone cheese (about 2 tubs)
3 cups whipping cream
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup icing sugar
Make the cakes:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Butter and lightly flour the pans. Shake any excess flour.
In the bowl of a stand up mixer, sift and whisk together all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients well. With the mixer on at medium speed, add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well to make the batter. Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans. Tap the pans lightly on the counter to release any air bubbles and place them in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the center of the cakes are done (you can insert the tip of a knife to check). Remove from the oven and let cool on cooling racks. When cool enough to handle, remove the cakes from the pans, wrap in plastic wrap, and set aside.
Make the passionfruit curd:
Scoop the passionfruit pulp and place it, with all other ingredients except for the butter, in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat and add the butter. Continue to stir for another 5 minutes, remove the pan from the heat source and let cool.
Place in a glass jar and store in the fridge (the curd will keep for many days if refrigerated).
Make the mascarpone icing:
Place the cream, the sugar and the vanilla in the bowl of a standup mixer and whisk at medium speed until it starts to thicken and soft peaks form. Lower the speed and add the mascarpone, a few spoonfuls at a time, until it is incorporated into the cream. Raise the speed to medium and continue to whisk until the cream forms firm peaks (make sure you do not over-whisk past this point, otherwise you’ll get a grainy texture).
Assembling the cake:
Spoon a generous dollop of mascarpone icing over one of the cake layers, smoothing and leveling with an offset spatula. Spoon the passionfruit sauce liberally over the icing. Place half of the berries evenly over the icing. Spoon and spread another dollop of mascarpone icing over the berries and smooth with the offset spatula. Place the second cake layer on top of the icing, pressing gently (the blackberries will stop you from pressing to far). Make sure the cake is even, then spoon another generous dollop of icing on top. Spread it evenly on the top and down the sides of the cake. I didn’t ice the sides of the cake completely, and preferred to leave it almost “naked”.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with mascarpone icing and pipe it in small dollops around the top edge of the cake. Liberally place the remaining berries in the center of the cake, then spoon more passionfruit sauce in the area between the berries and the star-shaped mascarpone icing dollops. If desired, place two passionfruit halves on the cake, for decoration, and dust the berries with icing sugar.
Refrigerate until ready to eat.
Note: I like to work on a marble counter. When the cake is finished, I transfer it to a cake stand or plate by gently sliding the bottom of a removable cake pan under the cake and very carefully transferring it to the plate or stand