smoke, mirrors, and frosting!

This is cake was…epic.  Make a brownie in a cake pan, slice it in half, fill it with a mocha filling, cover the whole thing with caramel frosting.  Do I have your attention now?  It was damn good and weighed a good 20 lbs.

However, my cosmic stars were not completely aligned on this one.  First impediment: whole foods was selling 8 ounces of mascarpone for $10! REALLY. We’re in a recession, people. The internets told me I could use cream cheese and butter as a substitute.  Ok, lets give it a whirl.  While it tasted great, it in no way resembled mascarpone.  But, as it set in the cake, it got all gooey and yummy, which was an unanticipated plus. The other impediments offer no other culinary wisdom and I’ll let you watch the comedy of errors unfold in the photos below.

Since this is a behemoth of a recipe, I’ve included the text for you all together up front.  (one day i’ll learn how to make those cool little ‘printable versions’ but lets just work on me mastering getting a cake out of a pan first).  This was a compilation of a few different recipes, so that gives me license to come up with my own name for my specific creation. I dub thee…

Brownie Birthday Extravaganza!

Brownie and Filling Recipes by Dinner & Dessert

Frosting by Paula Deen (inspired by Spork or Foon)



  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract


  • 2 (8-ounce) tubs mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 teaspoons boiling water
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup frosting
  • 2 cups chopped toffee bars (I omitted these at the birthday girl’s request)


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more as necessary
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (16-ounce) box confectioners’ sugar

Method (to the sheer madness)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease three 9-inch cake pans with butter and dust lightly with flour.  Melt the butter and chocolate in a medium bowl set over a saucepan filled with 2 inches of simmering water.  Stir until the chocolate has melted.  Remove the bowl from over the saucepan.  Add the sugar and eggs to the chocolate; whisk about 1 minute, until the mixture is glossy and smooth.  Stir in the flour, salt, and vanilla.  Do not overmix the batter.
  • Pour one-third of the batter into each pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the brownies are just firm to the touch.  Cool the brownies in their pans for 30 minutes, then invert them onto racks to cool completely, about 30 minutes longer.


  • Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone, espresso liquid, sugar, vanilla, and salt on medium speed just until combined.  Using a large spatula, fold in the 1 cup of reserved frosting.


  • Meanwhile, prepare frosting. Melt butter in small saucepan. Add brown sugar and 1/3 cup cream. Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Using a handheld electric mixer, beat in confectioners’ sugar a little at a time until smooth. If frosting is too thick, add 1 tablespoon heavy cream at a time until consistency is right.

Foto Follies

standard double boiler procedure

this bowl is so large it can not be lifted with one hand.

all is still quiet on the western front.

someone told me you could sub very expensive mascarpone with 1 block of cream cheese and some butter. someone was wrong.

another lesson learned: regular ground espresso is not the same as instant espresso.

plop some frosting in the filling, nothing to see here.

one beautiful brownie cake!

aaaaand this naughty little monkey decided to have a total meltdown when inverted.

and i waive my magic wand of improvisation! slice the obedient brownie in half! (very carefully, and with a serated if anyone is still considering attempting this right now.)

line your plate with small squares of parchment to keep it clean during frosting. (also useful in other non-cake wreck situations)

filling! quite tasty, quite attractive.


but aha! my wand of improvisation still works.

attraction! deception! laughs! tears! this cake deserves a broadway show.


One response

  1. The wand of improvisation saves the day again! It looks delicious.

    On another note, I wonder if Trader Joe’s would have a better deal on mascarpone for next time. They usually have reasonably-priced good cheeses. If only Trader Joe’s were in Texas, sigh….

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