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Monkey Weddings & Summer Sapphires

South Africa to Nova Scotia: Stories, Recipes & Memories

White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Cake

By February the light in Nova Scotia is already changing. Longer sunlight hours however, don’t necessarily mean warmer temperatures, but for the past week we have actually hovered around the 6 degree mark. There is still snow on the ground but for the most part it is old, frozen grey snow which just dirties the city sidewalks. The ice on the lake below our forest has begun to thaw, and ever so slowly, very soon, small changes in the garden will start happening.

The first real change is the sounds of the birds. They have calculated the suns arc to the horizon and they have begun returning. Each morning they are the first things we hear again after a long season of silence. The Canada Geese, have arrived back early from hanging out in Wisconsin. We hear their plaintive honking as they fly over our house and skid onto our still partly frozen lake. Back again, their unshakable faith to return to their roots, their life mate in tow, is a quiet reassurance in knowing they have chosen this neck of the woods to call home. The robins are also back and flitting about at the feeder, that is still a solid frozen ice pack. I’m hoping with every fiber of my being that the Mi’kMaq are right, and that the little red breasted birds with their bright yellow beaks are drawing the sun toward us.

It seems therefore that a little indulgence is required and there is no better way than to welcome in early spring, than with this very decadent and insanley delicious layered, white chocolate and mascarpone cake, with layers of marzipan, raspberry and cream.

The recipe makes two 8" cakes, which I slice in half to get four equal sized sponge layers. I make my own marzipan, which is incredibly simple and definitely worth the effort (recipe below). If you can't find Marscapone Cheese, it is also very easy to make (recipe below).

Yield: 2 x 8" inch cake (12 pieces)

Sponge Cake Recipe

1 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence or one whole vanilla pod

4 teaspoons lemon rind

Juice of 2 lemons

1 inch thick piece of marzipan rolled and cut in an 8" circle

2 tablespoons raspberry jam

2 tablespoons heavy whipped cream

1. Pre heat oven to 350 F and grease 2x8" springform cake tins.

2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow for about 3 minutes.

3. Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time and mix together.

4. Add the flour, baking powder, milk, vanilla essence, lemon rind and juice and mix together until combined and smooth.

5. Divide the cake batter into 2 cake tins and bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

6. When the cakes are baked, allow them to cool and then divide them into 4 layers.


1½ cups very finely ground almond flour

1½ cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons pure almond extract

1 teaspoon good quality rose water

1 egg white

1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix in a food processor or mixer until a small lump of dough is formed.

2. Turn the almond marzipan out onto a work surface and knead it a few times. Form it into a ball, wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour before using.

3. f it is too sticky when rolling, add more powdered sugar.

White Chocolate Mascarpone Cheese Frosting

1 cup white chocolate

1½ cups powdered sugar

1½ cups mascarpone cheese

  1. Melt the Chocolate over water bath. Let cool slightly

  2. Whisk Mascarpone, melted chocolate and powdered sugar together until smooth and fluffy.

Layering the Cake

  1. On the first layer add Mascarpone frosting, on the second layer spread raspberry jam and then add your rolled out circular piece of marzipan. Layer the third level with whipped cream and finally layer your 4th side with Mascarpone.

  2. Use the remaining marscapone for the top and sides of the cake.

  3. Decorate the cake with spring flowers

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