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1. Separate eggs; allow egg yolks and egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour three 8x1-1/2-inch round cake pans;** set aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
2. In an extra-large bowl combine butter and shortening. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla until combined. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Fold in dried apricots and pecans.
3. Thoroughly wash beaters. In a large bowl beat egg whites on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold about one-third of the beaten egg whites into cake batter to lighten. Fold in remaining beaten egg whites. Pour batter into prepared pans, spreading evenly.
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on racks.
5. To assemble, turn two cake layers bottom side up. Spread each layer with 2/3 cup Chocolate-Mascarpone Frosting. Stack these layers on a serving plate. Place remaining cake layer, rounded side up, on top. Frost top and side of cake with remaining frosting. If desired, garnish with chocolate curls and/or raspberries. If desired, cover and chill until ready to serve. Store any leftover cake, covered, in refrigerator for up to 2 days.
1. In an extra-large bowl combine mascarpone cheese, unsweetened cocoa powder, butter, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in the 3 tablespoons milk. Gradually beat in additional powdered sugar. If necessary, beat in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach spreading consistency. Makes about 4 cups.