Almond Praline Cake with Mascarpone Frosting and Chocolate Bark
['1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream', '3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar', '10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped', '1 1/2 cups cake flour', '2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder', '3/4 teaspoon salt', '1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar', '3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature', '3 7-ounce packages almond paste,* crumbled into 1-inch pieces', '7 large eggs', '1 tablespoon vanilla extract', '1 3/4 teaspoons almond extract', '1 cup sugar', '2 cups whole almonds, toasted', '1 1/2 8-ounce containers mascarpone cheese**', '1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream', '3 tablespoons sugar', '1 tablespoon vanilla extract', '4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped', '*Available in the baking section of most supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.', '**Italian cream cheese; available at many supermarkets and Italian markets.']
Simmer cream and sugar in medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add chocolate; whisk until smooth. Chill until just spreadable, about 6 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottoms with parchment paper; dust pans with flour. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Using heavy-duty mixer, blend brown sugar and butter in large bowl. Beat in almond paste 1 piece at a time, then beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extracts. Fold in dry ingredients. Divide batter among pans; smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack.
Line baking sheet with foil. Stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until deep amber, swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush occasionally. Mix in nuts. Pour onto foil; cool. Peel foil off praline. Chop praline coarsely. DO AHEAD Praline can be made 1 day ahead; store airtight at room temperature.
Beat all ingredients in large bowl just to soft peaks (do not overbeat or mixture will curdle).
Run knife around pan sides to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out; peel off paper. Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread half of ganache over; sprinkle with 1/4 cup praline. Top with second cake layer. Spread remaining ganache over; sprinkle with 1/4 cup praline. Top with third cake layer. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. DO AHEAD Cake can be made 1 day ahead; cover with cake dome and chill. Store remaining praline airtight at room temperature.
Line baking sheet with foil. Melt chocolate in small bowl set over saucepan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Remove from over water. Drizzle all but 1 tablespoon chocolate over foil in thick (about 1-inch-wide) zigzag lines (chocolate will pool in spots). Sprinkle 3 tablespoons praline over chocolate; chill bark until firm, about 1 hour.
Press praline around bottom 2 inches of cake; sprinkle more atop. Peel foil off bark; break into pieces. Press edges into frosting atop cake. Remelt 1 tablespoon chocolate over simmering water, stirring often. Using spoon, drizzle chocolate over cake. DO AHEAD Chill up to 4 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.
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