Literally Coffee Cake

I call this "literally" coffee cake because there's actually coffee in the recipe. It's not just a cake you make to accompany your cup of coffee. It's also rather convenient because I used boxed cake mix instead of measuring out a bunch of flour and baking powder and sugar and blahblahblah.
This cake is kind of, sort of a weird play on tiramisu. Actually, it's nothing like tiramisu but it was inspired by tiramisu's feature ingredients: coffee, chocolate, and mascarpone.

Cake Ingredients:
1 box of yellow cake mix
1 cup strong coffee
¼ cup melted butter
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Ganache Ingredients:
¾ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup cream
¼ cup strong coffee

Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
1 cup mascarpone cream
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
To make the cake, start by melting half a stick of butter and setting it aside to cool.
Then, add all of the cake ingredients to a bowl and whisk everything together. So simple and if there are lumps in the batter, it's no big deal.
And if you want, whisk in some chocolate chips.
Grease a baking pan. I used an 8" round spring form pan. A 9" pan would work too.
Pour the batter into the pan.
Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
To make the ganache, heat up the cream and coffee until scalding. Pour the hot coffee cream over the chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Leave the ganache alone for 20 minutes to cool until it starts to thicken. It should be thick enough to easily spread between the two cakes without dripping all over the place.
Once the cake is cool, slice it right through the center, latitudinally. Is latitudinally a word? Whatever, just slice it in half so that you have two circles. I like to start on one side and cut into the cake a little, start spinning the cake while cutting into it little by little and keep going until the whole thing is cut into two. Turning the cake makes it easy to make sure the cake is cut evenly. By the way, if you try and cut into a still-warm cake, it will probably be really crumb-y so I suggest you be patient and wait for it to cool completely before taking to it with a knife.
Pour the ganache in the center and spread into an even layer.
Place the second cake layer on top of the ganache layer.
Make the whipped cream only when you're ready to frost. I don't really recommend making this ahead of time, as the cream can deflate.
Whip the cream to stiff peaks. But be careful not to over whip the cream or you'll end up with butter.
Whisk the mascarpone with the powdered sugar until smooth.
Carefully fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone, incorporating about 1/3 of the whipped cream at a time.
Frost the cake.
Decorate the cake, if you like. I used a few raspberries because I thought they looked pretty.
I also had these fun sparkly things. I picked these up from a clearance bin at Target for $0.88 (for a pack of 8). So festive and fun and holiday spirit-y.
Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the cake sliced up because I took this to a party and I didn't have my camera with me. But, it was a big hit! I'm sure you can imagine what it looks like in the center anyway - just a yellow cake spotted with a few chocolate chips, a brown ganache layer in the center and whipped cream surrounding the outsides. This would be a lovely dessert to make for neighbors and friends, maybe as a holiday treat or just for a coffee and cake get-together.
Here's the recipe page:


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