Marcella's Diplomatico Recipe - Victor


For the rum and coffee soak

5 tablespoons rum

1-1/4 cup strong espresso coffee

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

5 tablespoons water

Note: some pound cakes absorb more than others, and the rum and coffee mixture may not suffice for soaking all the slices; have additional cofgfee and rum available and prepare more, if you need to, guided by the proportions given above.

Ingredients/equipment - cake:

a 16-ounce pound cake (store-bought)


a 9-inch rectagular cake pan (if you like your dessert to be tall rather than broad, use a narrow loaf pan) [note: the image in the cookbook looks like they used a bowl.]

For the chocolate filling:

4 eggs

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate in drops or chopped up or grated squares

A double boiler

The frosting:

(If you prefer chocolate) 

4 ounce semi-sweet chocolate (in drops, chopped up, or grated squares)

1 teaspoon butter

1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

A double boiler

(If you prefer whipped cream)

1 cup heavy whipping cream - very cold

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

A copper or other mixing bowl - kept in freezer

The garnish:

fresh berries or walnuts and candied fruit for either the chocolate or whipped cream frosting


Marcella's Diplomatico (Chocolate Rum and Coffee Cake) Recipe - Victor

6-8 servings

Victor Diplomatico

We have become good friends with Victor, Marcella Hazan's husband, over the (many) years. Victor was one of our very first customers!

Starting with book signings and launches, and forged over a love of great food, our friendship has deepened over time.

"Finding a holiday recipe ... is more complicated than would appear. Marcella ... used very few ingredients, next to no spices, and rarely anything packaged or tinned, with the exception of tomatoes and tuna.

"A recipe that comes to mind is Diplomatico, a chocolate dessert using store-bought pound cake as a foundation. It was hugely popular with our students throughout the years. It's absurdly simple, needs no baking, and if done carefully, it's super delicious. It's on page 577 of " Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking " (Penguin Random House, 1992)"

Directions - rum and coffee soak:

1. In a small bowl, combine the rum, espresso, sugar and water.

2. Cut the pound cake into slices 1/4-inches thick. Moisten cheescloth with water and use it to line the inside of a cake pan with enough left over to extend beyond the pan and cover the cake later. Soak the pound cake, slice by slice in the rum/coffee mixture, then use the slices to line the bottom and sides of the pan. Leave no gaps, patching where necessary with pieces of soaked pound cake. Dip the slices in and out of the mixture rather quickly, otherwise they become too soggy to handle. If you run out of rum and coffee mixture, mix some more.

Directions - chocolate filling:

1. Separate the eggs, and beat the yolks with 1 teaspoon sugar until they turn pale yellow.

2. Put water in the bottom of a double boiler, bring to a gentle but steady simmer, then pour the chocolate drops or chopped/grated semi-sweet chocolate into the top of the double boiler.  When the chocolate had melted, pour it, a little at a time, over the egg yolks, mixing rapidly, until all the chocolate has been thoroughly amalgamated into the egg yolks.

3. Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peaks.  Mix 1 tablespoon of the egg white into the chocolate and egg yolk mixture, then add the remainder, folding them gently so as not to collapse them.

4. Spoon the chocolate filling into the (cake-lined) pan, over the run and coffee soaked cake slices.  Top and cover with more slices of cake soaked in rum and coffee, and over them fold the moistened cheesecloth that extended over the rim of the pan.

5. Refigerate for at least one day - but for as long as 1 week.

6. When taking the cake out of the refigerator, unfold the cheesecloth, pulling away from the top. Turn the pan over onto a platter, and shake it abruptly to loosen the cake from the pan, letting it drop onto the platter.  Pull off the cheesecloth.

Directions - chocolate frosting:

1.  Bring water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. In the top, put 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate together with 1 teaspoon of butter.  When the chocolate has melted, stir in 1 tablespoon of heavy cream. 

2. Spread the frosting evenly over the top and sides of the Diplomatico.

3. Refigerate for an hour or so until the chocolate has hardened.

4. Garnish with with a simple arrangement of either walnuts and candied fruit, or fresh raspberries and blueberries or other berries.

OR Directions - whipped cream:

1. Put 1 cup of very cold heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of sugar info a bowl which you have kept in the freezer. Whip it with a whisk until it is stiff.  Use it to cover the top and sides of the cake.

2. Garnish with with a simple arrangement of wither walnuts and candied fruit, or fresh raspberries and blueberries or other berries.