Mascarpone Cake with Red Wine Prunes
Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person is a feast for the eyes (and sweet tooth), but her combination of prunes, red wine, and mascarpone cheese here really stole our hearts. Originally inspired by a dessert at Frankie’s Sputino in Brooklyn, this cake pairs a light texture with softened prunes and rich, warm spiced red wine syrup–it’s equally as great for a weeknight dessert as it is for a holiday spread.
Red Wine Prunes
- 8 oz pitted California prunes (about 20-25, depending on
- 1 ½ cups California pinot noir or lighter red wine
- ¼ cup sugar
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 cinnamon sticks, or ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- Optional: 1 star anise pod
- Cooking spray or butter for the pan
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp Diamond Crystal* kosher salt
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup mascarpone, divided, at room temperature
- 4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp finely-grated lemon zest
*Diamond Crystal salt is flakier and less dense than others, but can be substituted with ½ tsp of most other brands.
Food processor, melon baller or small ice cream scoop
- Add the pitted prunes, red wine, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and star anise (optional) to a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then stir to dissolve the sugar and lower to a gentle simmer. Swirl the pan occasionally and cook for 40-50 minutes, until the prunes are soft but still holding shape, and the wine has reduced to about ¼ cup of thick syrup. Set aside to cool thoroughly.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray or butter the bottom and sides of the cake pan, then line the bottom with a disc cut from parchment paper. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and kosher salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks, and sugar until combined, and the mixture is pale (about 1 minute). Add in ½ cup of the mascarpone, the melted butter, vanilla, and lemon zest. Continue whisking until the mixture is consistent and smooth in texture.
- Add the egg and butter mixture to the dry ingredients. Fold or gently whisk everything together just enough to coat the flour and create a smooth batter. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and spread into an even layer.
- Use a small spoon to remove the prunes from the syrup one at a time, draining each of any excess syrup. Dot them throughout the batter to cover the cake evenly–it’s okay if some of these touch. Reserve the syrup for serving.
- Bake the cake 45-60 minutes on a centre rack, until the top is golden brown throughout and firm to the touch–a toothpick inserted into the centre will come out wet but mostly clean. Use a large piece of foil to tent the cake if it’s getting too much colour before cooking all the way through. Let the cake cool completely in the pan.
- Once cooled, run a paring knife around the side of the pan, then cover with a plate and flip to remove the cake. Remove the pan, peel off the parchment paper, then cover the cake with a serving plate and flip again. Slice and serve with a dollop of the remaining mascarpone and a drizzle of the red wine syrup!
Cake and cocktails are a match made in heaven. Serve with a Prune Negroni.