Coffee and Mascarpone No-Bake Cake
My coffee and Mascarpone no-bake cake recipe, which I sort of put together by combining elements from recipes for the Portuguese bolo de bolacha (a layered coffee flavoured custard and biscuit cake) and the all famous tiramisu, makes a really stunning cake you’d want to make in summer when you can’t be bothered with turning the oven on. I think there’s no easier way to impress a coffee-lover with a sweet tooth than with this lovely cake.
I had the luscious bolo de bolacha during a holiday in Portugal last year. The first forkful and I had fallen in love! I googled the recipe and was surprised to find out how easy it was to make. The recipe called for Maria biscuits, a vanilla-flavoured biscuit very similar to Rich Tea Biscuits. I’ve used both types of biscuits in my recipe and can’t really tell the difference so whichever you can find is fine.
Portuguese sweets and desserts are fabulous. I find it very hard to pick a favourite from the large selection of pastries and desserts I had there. Pastel de nata (custard cups) was definitely at the top of my list. They are the most scrumptious little pastries to have with the fabulously delicious Portuguese coffee.
Pastel de nata is a speciality of Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon where literally thousands of them are hand-made and sold every single day. Only pastel de nata from the said monastery can be called Pastéis de Belém. The monastery cafe, which is really huge, serves a few other types of pastries but it’s the amazing custard cups it’s famous for.
So here’s the recipe. I hope you’ll like it and make it as often as I do. The amounts given below make a large round cake enough to serve 12 people. Cut the amounts in half and use a smaller tin (round or square) for a smaller cake.
Also feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of your favourite liqueur to the cream and mascarpone mixture. Many flavours will work nicely. I particularly like to add rum or the orange-flavoured Cointreau.
- 1 1/2 -2 packets of Maria or Rich Tea biscuits
- 600ml double (or heavy) cream (chilled)
- 300g mascarpone cheese
- Seeds from one vanilla pod (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 40g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp Baileys or milk
- 250ml very strong cold coffee
- Cocoa powder for dusting
- Strawberries to garnish (optional)
- Whip the cream with a hand mixer in a medium-sized bowl until it holds soft peaks. Beat the mascarpone cheese into the whipped cream until well mixed and the mixture holds stiff peaks. Add the icing sugar, vanilla seeds (or extract) and the Baileys (or milk) and beat just to mix.You can add a little more Baileys or milk if the mixture is too stiff to spread.
- Line a 23 cm springform cake tin with two layers of cling film. The size of the tin doesn’t really matter. A smaller tin will make a thicker cake. You can even use a square Pyrex or similar dish if you don’t have a springform cake tin. You don’t need to use cling film if you are using a glass dish.
- Pour the coffee in a shallow dish. Soak a biscuit in the coffee for about two to three seconds and place it in the bottom of the tin. Repeat with the rest of the biscuits until the bottom of the tin is covered with biscuits.
- Spread a thin layer of the cream mixture (about two mm thick) over the biscuits. Repeat with the rest of the biscuits and cream. I usually do four layers of biscuits (including the bottom). Spread the rest of the cream mixture over the last layer of the biscuits.
- Dust the top of the cake generously with cocoa powder and garnish with strawberry halves if desired. Chill the cake for at least four hours. Cut into wedges using a sharp knife with a thin blade or a wire cake cutter if you have one. Enjoy!