This cake, inspired by Rowan’s bust of Marie Antoinette is rich, kirsch-soaked chocolate sponge, filled with coffee-flavoured mascarpone and spread with a delicious chocolate ganache. You’ll need to soak the dried cherries for a few hours before you start baking.
Heat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/Gas 3.
Make the sponge. Melt the butter in a microwave in very short bursts and set aside to cool slightly.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together the eggs and caster sugar for about 4 minutes on medium speed, until the mixture is very pale, trebled in volume and will hold a firm ribbon trail when you lift the whisk.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into the bowl and whisk again to combine. Add the melted butter and whisk again until smooth.
Drain the cherries, reserving the kirsch soaking liquid, and fold the cherries into the cake mixture until evenly distributed.
Divide the mixture equally between the prepared cake tins and bake for about 20 minutes, until well risen and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins on wire racks for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto the wire racks to cool completely.
Make the ganache. Heat the cream in a small pan on a medium–low heat until just below boiling point. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour over the hot cream. Leave for 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Cool at room temperature, then cover and chill for 30 minutes until thickened.
Meanwhile make the kirsch syrup. Tip the sugar into a small pan and add 100ml of water. Place over a low–medium heat, bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and add the reserved kirsch soaking liquid. Stir and leave to cool.
Make the mascarpone filling. Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl until combined.
Assemble the cake. Place the first sponge on the serving plate and brush the top liberally with syrup. Spread with half the mascarpone cream, then top with a second sponge and repeat, brushing again with syrup and spreading over the remaining mascarpone cream. Top with the final sponge and gently press the cakes together.
Cover the sides of the cake with the ganache, spreading it smoothly with a palette knife into an even layer. Run the serrated cake scraper around the sides to create ridges.
To decorate, whip the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla to soft peaks. Spoon the cream over the top of the cake, smoothing it into an even layer. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the chocolate over the cream and arrange the cherries with stems around the edge to serve.