This might look like a very impressive cake that took ages to make, but it's really only an assembly job. Perfect for a dinner party when you're tight on time!

Ingredients

  • 750 g mascarpone cheese, well chilled
  • 200 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
  • 450 ml cream, well chilled
  • 200 ml freshly brewed strong espresso coffee, left to cool
  • 100 ml coole swan irish cream liqueur
  • 2 x 380 g chocolate loaf cakes (shop-bought or homemade)
  • 2 tsp good-quality cocoa powder
  • 10–12 chocolate-covered coffee beans, to decorate

Method

  1. Using an electric whisk, mix the mascarpone cheese, icing sugar and vanilla seeds until well combined. Whip 375ml (13fl oz) of the cream until soft peaks form and then fold into the mascarpone mixture.
  2. Pour the coffee into a shallow dish and stir in the Coole Swan. Slice the chocolate loaves. Line the base and sides of a 23cm (9in) springform cake tin with parchment paper and wrap the outside in clingfilm to avoid any leaks.
  3. Dip 8 of the chocolate cake slices in the Coole Swan mixture to cover the bottom of the tin. It's important to only dip them as you go along so that they are not soaking for long, which would make them difficult to handle.
  4. Cover the layer of soaked chocolate cake with one-third of the mascarpone cream and then arrange another even layer of the soaked cake slices on top. Continue layering in this way, finishing with a mascarpone layer, and place in the fridge to chill for 10–15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, whip the rest of the cream in a clean bowl and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star-shaped nozzle. When ready to serve, carefully remove from the cake tin and transfer to a cake stand.
  6. Give the cake an even dusting of the cocoa powder, then pipe 10–12 peaks of cream around the edge of the cake and top each one with a chocolate-covered coffee bean. Place in the middle of the table so that everyone can help themselves.