serves: makes one 10-inch cake; 8 to 10 servings
This dessert of Hungarian origin takes its name from famous violinist Rigo Jancsi, who seduced his Belgian wife with this dessert.
For the Cake
unsalted butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the cake pan
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
6 large eggs
1½ cups sugar
For the Cherry Syrup
½ cup sweet Marsala
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 cup Amerene cherries, with their liquid
For the Filling
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons water, cold
⅛ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
7 egg yolks, at room temperature
½ pound semi-sweet chocolate
½ cup dry Marsala
1½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsweetend cocoa powder
Chocolate Zabaglion, (See recipe for Zabaglione)
Make the sponge cake: Place the rack in the center position of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a 10-inch round by 3-inch high cake pan. Sprinkle the sides and bottom with flour, making sure to coat the entire surface, and tap out the excess. To make the cake easier to remove, cut a piece of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the pan, insert it into the bottom of the prepared cake pan and butter and flour that too.
In a small bowl, sift together 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, the baking powder and baking soda.
In a medium-size bowl set over a large saucepan of simmering water, beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture has warmed and most of the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the egg sugar mixture at high speed until doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat. With a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, scraping the egg mixture from the bottom of the bowl over the dry ingredients.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a wooden skewer or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake's surface springs back when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes. Let stand on a wire rack until completely cool 1 to 2 hours, before removing the pan.
Meanwhile, make the syrup: In a small saucepan, stir the Marsala and confectioners' sugar over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the Amarene cherries and their liquid and set aside.
Make the filling: In a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring often to melt the chocolate evenly. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the bowl of chocolate over the water to keep it warm.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes.
In the top of a double boiler or a medium-size, heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of the superfine sugar and the Marsala until smooth. Place over barely simmering water and continue beating (switching to an electric handheld mixer, if you like) until the mixture is pale yellow, fluffy and falls in thick ribbons when the whisk or beaters are lifted, about 8 minutes if you are whisking by hand or about 4 minutes if you are using an electric mixer. It is important to whisk continuously or the egg yolk will cook and the mixture will appear curdled.
Scrape the softened gelatin into the egg mixture and stir until the gelatin is dissolved. With a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Let the mixture stand until cool, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. With a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the chocolate-egg mixture until no traces of white is visible.
Assemble the cake: With a long, thin serrated knife, slice the chocolate sponge cake horizontally into two even layers. Set the bottom layer into a 10-inch springform pan and brush it with about 1/2 of the cherry syrup--it will be quite moist. Scatter the cherries over the cake layer. Spoon the chocolate zabaglione filling over the cherries. Moisten the cut side of the top cake layer with the remaining syrup and place it, cut side down over the filling. Press very gently. Cover the pan securely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the filling is firm, at least 6 hours or up to one day.
To serve, release the side of the springform pan and remove it. Sift the 3 tablespoons of cocoa over the cake. Cut the cake into wedges with a thin, serrated knife and serve with Chocolate Zabaglione Sauce, if you like.