Il Diplomatico Chocolate Cake


This coffee-soaked dessert is often made with shop-bought Madeira cake, so feel free to take the short cut if time’s tight. To intensify the coffee hit you may add espresso to the chocolate mousse filling and the cream topping too – it’s not strictly traditional, but it’s delicious. You’ll need to begin this recipe 2 days ahead.



250 ml espresso-strength coffee
50 ml golden rum
100 gm caster sugar
450 gm dark chocolate (60-65% cocoa solids), finely chopped
700 ml thickened cream
3 cups thickened cream
4 eggs
To serve:chocolate-coated coffee beans, coarsely crushed (optional)

Madeira Cake

175 gm softened butter
155 gm caster sugar
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
3 eggs
250 gm (1 2/3 cups)plain flour, sieved
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk


1. For Madeira cake, preheat oven to 160 C. Beat butter, sugar and lemon rind in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes). Scrape down sides of bowl and add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour, cinnamon and baking powder to combine, then add milk and lemon juice and stir until smooth. Spoon into a greased 8 cm x 22 cm loaf tin lined with baking paper, smooth top and bake until cake is light golden and a skewer inserted withdraws clean (45-50 minutes). Cool completely, then turn out and stand, uncovered, for 24 hours to dry out.

2. Stir 150 ml espresso, rum, 1½ tbsp sugar and 50 ml water in a bowl until sugar dissolves and set aside.

3. Slice Madeira cake width-ways into 5 mm- thick slices and line base and sides of an 8 cm x 22 cm loaf tin lined with plastic wrap (let plastic wrap hang over sides of tin), trimming cake to fit and filling all gaps (set aside remaining cake). Brush generously with espresso mixture and set aside.

4. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (3-4 minutes), then set aside. Whisk 400 ml cream in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (4-5 minutes), then refrigerate until required. Whisk eggs, remaining sugar and 50 ml espresso in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until thick and pale (3-4 minutes), remove from heat and fold in melted chocolate, then whipped cream. Spoon into cake-lined tin, smooth top, then cover mousse with remaining cake slices, trimming to fit. Brush with espresso mixture, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours or up to a week. Whisk remaining cream and remaining espresso to soft peaks. Invert cake onto a platter, top with whipped cream, scatter crushed coffee beans over and serve.


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