Holiday Baking: Alison Roman's Sheet Cake with Mascarpone and Coffee

Dec 18, 2019

Maybe you follow Alison Roman’s work in the New York Times and Bon Appetit, or are devoted to her first blockbuster cookbook, Dining In. Maybe you follow her delightful Instagram or Twitter accounts. Maybe you have a group text where you kvell over her recipes like the infamous cookies or chickpea stew. Maybe you’ve seen her live, whether it was a reading at your local bookstore or a big culinary conference (we caught her recently at Cherry Bombe Jubilee in Seattle). As Alison Roman superfans, we’ve done all of the above, which is why it felt like a thrilling little personal love note to our favorite beverage when we saw that she had included a simplified take on tiramisu, Sheet Cake with Mascarpone and Coffee, in her latest cookbook, Nothing Fancy.

As is our experience with most of Alison’s recipes, we were not able to achieve quite the same level of food styling excellence (see below for a side-by-side), but the results were incredibly delicious, and vanished from our conference room before you could say “mascarpone.” For the coffee component, we used House Blend, slightly overdosed (20g) in an Aeropress, to really bring out some intense, bitter coffee flavor in the finished product and cut the rich sweetness of the mascarpone & cream. You could also swing by your nearest coffee shop and get them to pour you 14 ounces of espresso; whatever works!

Enjoy, and good luck!

Sheet Cake with Mascarpone and Coffee
Serves 6 to 10

For the cream
4 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar, divided
½ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt
Vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (optional)
2 cups (16 ounces) mascarpone

For the assembly
1 ¾ cups good espresso or very strong coffee
2 tablespoons rum, whiskey, or cognac
2 tablespoons unsweetened cooca powder, divided
Almost Angel Food Cake (from Nothing Fancy) or 1 (7 ounce) package of ladyfingers (about 24)

1 Make the cream. Using a stand mixer or an electric hand beater, in a medium bowl, whip the egg yolks and ¼ cup sugar until very pale yellow, tripled in volume, and holds a slight ribbon when the beaters are lifted. Transfer to a large bowl.

2 Whip the cream, a pinch of salt, the vanilla bean (if using) and the remaining ¼ cup sugar in the mixer bowl until you’ve got soft peaks. Add the mascarpone and continue to whip until you’ve got a soft, pillowy mixture with medium peaks. Fold the cream mixture gently into the egg mixture.

3 Assemble. Combine the espresso and rum in a small bowl. Using a sifter or a powdered sugar shaker, dust the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the cocoa powder.

4 Place half of the cake (or a layer of ladyfingers) in the bottom of the baking dish and, using a spoon or pastry brush, douse with half the espresso mixture. Evenly spread half the mascarpone mixture onto the cake, and repeat with the remaining cake, espresso, and mascarpone mixtures. Dust the top layer with the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

Do ahead: you can make this 1 to 2 days ahead.

Reprinted from Nothing Fancy. Copyright © 2019 by Alison Roman. Photographs copyright © 2019 by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC