A couple of years ago, Canon and I made this cake together. I had sort of forgotten about it until I was trying to organize some recipes the other day for something. I remembered how FABULOUS this cake was - rich chocolate cake with fluffy creamy mascarpone filling, offset by the crunch from the macadamia nut brittle, and then topped with more of the brittle and the classic pairing of orange and chocolate crumbles.
This cake has several components to it, but none of them are difficult.
Macadamia Nut Crunch
- 1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Devil's Food) and any additional ingredients needed to make the cake.
- + 1 tsp vanilla
Macadamia Nut Crunch
- 2 cups macadamia nuts, toasted
- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cups water
- 2 (8 ounce) containers mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
For the Macadamia Nut Crunch -
Toast the nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet. I put them in for 7 minutes at 400 degrees F. I shake them around every couple of minutes.
Cook the toasted nuts on parchment lined baking sheets.
Continue to boil until the mixture is light brown, about 8 - 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow the bubbles to subside. Then pour the caramelized sugar over the nuts.
Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and let the nut crunch cool about 30 minutes until hard. When it has hardened, place it on a cutting board and cut into small pieces, saving a few larger ones for decoration. Set these aside.
The first time I made this, the brittle worked beautifully. The next time, the weather was changing and the humidity in the air was not conducive to the brittle getting...well... brittle. It still tasted awesome, it just didn't do what I wanted it to do. But you know what? It's okay if this happens. I just shingled the pieces of nut crunch on top of the cake in a different design (verses making them stand up like I did on the photo above). No one knew the difference, except me... and there CERTAINLY were no complainers!! Don't stress!
For the Cake -
Begin by preheating the oven according to directions on your box of cake mix and then preparing your cake pans. I spray my pans with nonstick spray, then coat with granulated sugar, and finally I like to line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. The pans need to be ready and waiting for you when the cake batter is made.
Prepare the cake mix according to package instructions. For mine, this was to first add 3 large eggs..
Note* Allowing the eggs to come to room temperature before adding them to the cake batter will give you a better rise and fluffier cake than cold eggs. I can not seem to remember to take my eggs out that far in advance, so I usually make a small bowl of warm/hot water and let them sit in there for about 5 minutes while I get out all the other stuff.
Add in 1 cup of water, and 1/3 cup vegetable oil.
Add in 1 tsp vanilla.
Mix the batter on high for 2-3 minutes so it gets really fluffy. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
Find someone to lick the spoon... :)
For the Filling -
To the bowl of a stand mixer, add in the mascarpone cheese.
Canon helped me make the filling today.
Add in the heavy cream.
Add in the confectioners sugar.
Add in the vanilla.
Mix to combine. Be sure to set the mixer on LOW until combined so your kitchen isn't covered in the confectioners sugar. Once combined, crank up the speed and whip until the cream mixture forms soft-medium peaks.
Fold the chopped nut crunch into the cream mixture.
Stir to combine and set aside.
For the Orange Chocolate Crumbles -
Place the chocolate chips in a small food processor/chopper.
Add in about 1 inch of filling to the first cake layer.
Add the next layer of cake and ice the whole cake with the mascarpone crunch filling.
Add the shards of nut crunch brittle to the top of the cake and sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the ground chocolate topping.
Add some mint leaves just before serving as garnish if you'd like.