“Pumpernickel…what?” This cake usually elicits some confusion. I'd had a version with rum and walnuts, but my spin borrows the flavor trifecta of my favorite tiramisu recipe: chocolate, coffee and Marsala. That combination marries well, if unexpectedly, with pumpernickel’s own slightly coffee/chocolate-ish notes.
Picking up on the tiramisu inspiration, I usually serve a dollop of Mascarpone whipped cream with each slice (but regular whipped cream is fine too.)
For the torte:
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9” or 10” tube or Bundt pan very well and coat lightly with cocoa powder; alternately, butter a 9” or 10”spring form pan, and line its bottom with parchment or wax paper.
Make the pumpernickel breadcrumbs in a food processor or blender. Put them in a small bowl and toss with the Marsala. Let soak while you do the rest.
Finely chop the chocolate and pecans in a food processor or blender.
Separate the eggs. Put the egg whites in a large mixer bowl, and the yolks in a smaller one. Whisk the yolks well with the espresso powder, vanilla and a tiny pinch of salt.
Beat the egg whites until they begin to form peaks, then gradually beat in the sugar, until stiff peaks form.
Fold 2 or 3 big dollops of the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture, then put that mixture back into the egg white bowl. Add the chopped nut/chocolate and pumpernickel/Marsala mixtures. Fold everything together gently, until well combined but not deflated (it’s okay if some small white streaks remain.)
Gently turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (start checking at 30 min – my dark Bundt pan takes about 35.)
Let cool on a rack before removing the cake from the pan. (It will pull away from the sides and sink in the center a bit as it cools.)
Serve with a dollop of Mascarpone whipped cream.
Mascarpone Whipped Cream: combine the first 3 ingredients in a bowl and beat until well combined. Keep beating, adding sugar gradually, until it's light a fluffy. (Having all ingredients at the same temp will avoid curdling.)