“They say it’s my birthday!”… I know, I know, Ari’s was last week, but what can I say? Apparently, it’s true what they say about springtime, and the birds and the bees – well, at least in our family!
Anyway, since Ari got to choose her favorite flavors to be featured in last weeks post (peanut butter cup-cakes), we decided it was only fair to let me choose this week. So: peanut butter/chocolate is to Ari as marzipan/sweet ricotta is to me!
I have been completely obsessing over princess tortes from Sweden and a sweet ricotta torte from Italy – so why not bring the two together? It is my birthday after all! The princess torte appealed to me because of its appearance and its abundance of marzipan. The princess torte is assembled from pieces of spongecake which are layered into a bowl with flavored whipped cream, custard and jam, before being turned out and covered with marzipan. The marzipan is usually green and the torte is almost always garnished with red marzipan roses. The sweet ricotta torte has a winning flavor combination, and was the main inspiration for the flavor palette of this post. It is a spongecake which is soaked in liqueurs and layered with a sweet ricotta and covered with a layer of marzipan.
Our rendition uses the assembly of the princess torte but starts with a european genoise, or spongecake, soaked with a mixture of Galliano, an italian anise liqueur, and dark rum. It is then filled with a sweet ricotta filling, which we mixed with chopped dark chocolate, then covered with our favorite european buttercream, flavored with a hint of almond extract. It is then finished off with a thin layer of homemade marzipan.
You will need to make at least 2 of the spongecakes (recipe below, do not double recipe) to make a medium sized cake as we did here. You will also need a batch of our buttercream icing with one tablespoon of almond extract for flavoring, sweet ricotta cream filling with chopped dark chocolate, and finally, buy some marzipan or use our homemade recipe (coming soon!)
How to assemble the cake:
When ready to assemble, take your cake and trim off the sides, bottom and top layers. If you miss this step when soaking the cake with liqueur, you will end up with the cake being a pasty texture. Then cut the cakes into two layers each so that you have 4 layers at half the thickness. Cut two of these into strips about an inch wide. Then cut the other two layers into circles, so that they are the same circumference of the bowl you plan to use for assembly.
Line the inside of the bowl with saran wrap, allowing enough to run over the edge that you can use it to pull the cake out of the bowl later. Now line the inside of the bowl with the spongecake piecing together the strips, up until an inch from the rim of the bowl (assembly hint: use a little of the almond buttercream icing to help hold the strips together.) Once the bowl is lined with the cake, brush/drizzle the cake with the liqueur glaze. You will end up using about a third of the liqueur glaze for this step.
Fill the bowl half way (depending on your bowl, this will usually be the curved part of the bowl before the sides go up) with the sweet ricotta and make a flattened surface. Place a layer of cake on top of the ricotta and then brush/drizzle the genoise layer with the liqueur glaze (about half of the remaining liqueur glaze).
Add more ricotta (about and inch thick). Before adding the final layer of cake make sure you add the liqueur glaze to it first. Then place the liqueur side down onto the ricotta. Put the bowl with the assembled cake into the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes to set up before removing the cake from the bowl.
Invert the bowl onto a platter or cake stand and remove the cake from the bowl with the assistance of the saran wrap. Remove the saran wrap. Carefully coat the outside of the cake with a layer of almond buttercream. At this stage you will want to create a smooth surface on the cake. So use the buttercream to fill in any imperfections you might encounter.
Roll out your light green marzipan to about 1/16th of an inch. Or as thin as you feel comfortable, we only suggest the thinnest you can roll it because marzipan can be overly sweet and can overpower the other flavors in the cake.
Decorate with marzipan roses as we did, or you can use a stencil and dust with a light dusting of powdered sugar.
- 3 tablespoons clarified butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup sifted cake flour
- ½ cup - 1 tablespoon corn starch
- ¾ cup liqueur syrup
- ¼ cup +1½ teaspoons sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons liqueur
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F and prepare a 9 inch spring form pan, greasing it and lining it with parchment paper.
- Warm the clarified butter until almost hot, add the vanilla and keep warm.
- In a large mixing bowl set over a pan of simmering water heat the eggs and sugar until just lukewarm, stirring constantly to prevent curdling.
- Using the whisk beater, beat the mixture on high in a stand mixer for 5 minutes or until triple in volume.
- While the eggs are beating, sift together the cake flour and corn starch.
- Remove one scant cup of egg mixture and thoroughly whisk it into the clarified butter mixture.
- Sift ½ of the flour mixture over the remaining egg mixture and fold it in gently but rapidly with a large balloon whisk until almost all of the flour has disappeared.
- Repeat with the remaining flour mixture until the flour has disappeared completely.
- Fold in the butter mixture until just incorporated.
- Pour immediately into the prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and starts to shrink slightly from the sides of the pan.
- Loosen the cake from the pan and and remove at once onto a lightly greased rack. Re-invert to cool.
- To make syrup: in a small saucepan with a tight fitting lid, bring the sugar and water to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Cover immediately, remove from the heat, and allow to cool completely. Transfer to a liquid measuring cup and stir in the liqueur. If the syrup has slightly evaporated, add enough water to equal ¾ of a cup syrup.