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Lost and Found: The Chocolate Topped Princess Cake

Princess Cake
What makes a dessert go extinct? Times changing? Palates and preferences shifting? Dessert chefs retiring? All of the above? 

Whatever the reason, and wherever they may go, there are nonetheless certain desserts that stay alive in people's memories. And during our recent bout of research (read: obsession) with the Princess Cake, we came across one such dessert. The Princess Cake at famed Los Angeles eatery Scandia was not green, and in fact, it even varied a bit from the classic recipe, getting an added crunch from two layers of macaroons in addition to the layers of cake, jam and cream--and an added layer of richness with a layer of chocolate frosting atop the classic marzipan. However, one thing is for certain--this cake was certainly loved. 
While Scandia is no longer around, luckily Cake Gumshoe (and go-to pastry Chef of the Cakespy crew) Chris Jarchow sleuthed out the recipe for Scandia's Princess cake in the gorgeous book Lost Desserts: Delicious Indulgences of the Past Recipes from Legendary and Famous Chefs by Gail Monahan. Together, we took on the massive (and very time-consuming) cake-making project. Here's how we did it:

Princess Cake

Princess Cake (It says it serves 8-10, but we found that a little went a long way and it was more like 15 servings...no, really)
For the Yellow Cakes: 
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Vanilla Buttercream: 
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Marzipan Icing:
  • 1 cup almond paste
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 large egg plus one egg yolk (or more if needed to make a spreading consistency)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the chocolate icing:
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature and lightly beanten
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

To assemble the cake: 
  • 24 almond macaroons--somewhat hard and chewy, not hard and crisp (recipe suggests store-bought but Chris made ours)
  • about 5 tablespoons dark rum (or more, if you're feeling frisky)
  • About 2 cups best-quality raspberry jam
To make the yellow cakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 6 or 8 inch round or square cake pans at least 1 1/2 inches deep. Line the bottoms with parchment paper; butter the paper and dust the paper and pans with flour.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of the milk and the vanilla.
  3. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix for 30 seconds until combined. Add the butter and remaining 6 tablespoons milk. Mix on low speed until uniformly moist. Switch to high speed and mix for 1.5 minutes. Add the egg mixture in three batches, beating 15 seconds after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the surfaces with a spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after they are removed from the oven.
  5. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then loosen the cakes from the sides of the pan with a small knife and invert the cakes onto the racks. Re-invert and cool completely. Split each cake horizontally into two layers.
To make the vanilla buttercream:
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile combine the sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the syrup comes to a rolling boil and the sugar dissolves, and the entire surface is covered with large bubbles. Immediately pour the syrup into another cool saucepan or metal bowl to stop the cooking. 
  3. Beating constantly, add the syrup to the egg yolks in a slow, steady stream. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the last of the syrup into the yolks and to scrape down the bowl occasionally. Continue to beat until the mixture is completely cool.
  4. Gradually beat in the butter and then the vanilla. Store the buttercream in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature and beat again before using.
To Make the Marzipan Icing:
  1. Cut the almond paste into small pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer with the sugar, the whole egg, and the egg yolk. Beat on medium speed until combined, adding more egg if necessary to make the icing a spreading consistency. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
To Make the Chocolate Icing:



  1. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. When melted, remove from heat and add the confectioners' sugar and hot water. Stir thoroughly; add egg and beat well. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time and beat until thoroughly combined, smooth, and glossy (this took several minutes).

Layering the Princess Cake
To Assemble the cake:
  1.  Lay the macaroons out on a piece of wax paper, flatten them a bit with your hand, and spinkle with 2 tablespoons of the rum. Set aside.
  2. Layer a cake layer on a cake plate and dampen the top with 1 tablespoon of rum. Spread generously with jam and then cover evenly with 12 or so macaroons. 
  3. Spread the underside of a second cake layer with buttercream, about 3/8 inch thick. Place this second layer, buttercream side down, on top of the first layer. Dampen the top with 1 tablespoon of rum. 
  4. Spread the top of this second layer generously with jam (be sure to hold the side of the cake so it doesn't slide around).
  5. Spread the underside of a third cake layer with buttercream, again about 3/8 inch thick, and lay it, buttercream side down, on top of the second layer.
  6. Dampen the top of the third layer with the last tablespoon of the rum, spread generously with jam, and evenly cover the jam with the remaining 12 macaroons.
  7. Spread 3/8 inch of buttercream on the underside of the fourth cake layer and lay it, buttercream side down, on top of the third layer.
  8. Use leftover buttercream sparingly to tidy up the cake: fill gaps on the sides between layers, and just generally smooth things over. Put the cake in the fridge or freezer for at least 15 minutes to harden the buttercream. Note: Ours started to pull a "Leaning tower of Pisa" in the fridge, so it might be a good idea to support it on the side somehow. We eventually put a wooden skewer through the cake to keep it solid).
    Making the Princess Cake
  9. When the buttercream is hard, ice the cake with a layer of marzipan icing. Refrigerate or freeze for about fifteen minutes, again to harden the icing, and then ice a final time with the chocolate icing (we didn't think it was attractive during this time, but it's quite pretty once sliced into--see top!).
    Scandia's Princess Cake
  10. The cake should be kept in the refrigerator until one hour before serving. It can be assembled up to 24 hours in advance and kept well covered and refrigerated. It can also be frozen.
Note: The vanilla buttercream, marzipan, and chocolate icing will keep well in the fridge for several days. To store longer, freeze.





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Reader Comments (32)

I am in awe of your efforts to make this cake. I'm tired after just reading what you did. But I sure am grateful to reap the rewards of ogling it. :)

This has Daring Bakers written all over it. Maybe my own perspective, but I love a challenge like this. What an amazing array of flavors and texures! The crunch of the macarons sounds perfect.

November 14 | Unregistered Commenterkellypea

Have I died and gone to heaven? Please, please, may I have a taste of that? And, to quote Oliver, may I please, sir, have some more?!

November 14 | Unregistered Commenterdietdessertndogs

That actually looks and appeals way better than the original!

November 14 | Unregistered CommenterWandering Coyote

Yikes! I'm afraid Kelly's right--we will all be joining you in this some day soon . . . thanks for sharing. And, um, your fridge is so organize. Please tell me you did that for the photo. Please?

November 14 | Unregistered Commenterchou

Spare me. That looks amazing!!!!

November 14 | Unregistered Commenterrookie cookie

Since everything in LA tends to be over the top, I'm not surprised they added macaroons to the original cake.
Great work on educating the world about princess cake in its various forms. Your obsession is our benefit.

November 14 | Unregistered CommenterDana McCauley

As you got to the isntructions to buttercream the THIRD layer of cake I started to think the cake was never actually going to end, like it was some devilish plan to trap cakelovers in an endless battle, placing layer upon layer upon layer of cake, never being able to finish the hellish creation. Sort of a variation of how the devil makes Homer eat all those donuts, but with making rather than eating treats, and consequently less fun involved.

Thankfully the cake ended.

Incidentally, I think those pictures have made my my tear canals fill up with buttercream.

November 14 | Unregistered Commentersanna

Whew!!! I can understand why nobody wants to make it and I can bet you everybody wants to eat it. Have we become such a lazy society.

November 14 | Unregistered Commentergiz

wow this looks even more delicious :)

November 14 | Unregistered CommenterSnooky doodle

Holy sugar overload batman! I want it. Even though it's not even 7am, I want it. Please?

November 15 | Unregistered CommenterEngineer Baker

Wow, I hope whoever ate this cake SAVORED it. You put so much with into it! It's absolutely gorgeous :)

It's beautiful! I must make myself one and eat it all.

November 15 | Unregistered CommenterReeni

I have had this book on my wish list for sometime now and it looks like the masterpiece you have created has just put it to the top of the list.

Your team has out done themselves and it shines in this indescribably delicious looking Princess Cake.

November 15 | Unregistered Commenter~~louise~~

Oh wow does that look decadent! One question...where can I get my very own Chris? Hmmm?

November 15 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

Wow! That cake is definitely fit for a princess! It looks spectacular! Kudos for all of that work!

Hi Cakespy! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today and for your comment---if you try those cowboy cookies you'll have to let me know how you like them! I made them again recently and had some leftovers that got a little stale, so I used them as crumbs for a cheesecake crust. Heavenly!

And, um, excuse me but a cake that is not just a cake but macaroons and marzipan too? With the word 'princess' in its name? Where do I sign up? :)

November 15 | Unregistered CommenterThe City Sage

worth the wait, i suppose. i like a cake like this, although can't really go back for more (mind my waistline hehehe). this surely is excellent accompanied by fresh fruits and a cup of espresso! mmmmm....

November 15 | Unregistered CommenterArfi Binsted

I like this version more with the macaorn layer. Well worth the effort.I want a slice.

November 15 | Unregistered Commenterglamah16

That crunch in the middle from thr macarrons makes me almost cry for not having a slice now.

November 15 | Unregistered CommenterClumbsy Cookie

wow what a cake...and I just love macaroons almondy heaven. I think I just died and one there.


November 15 | Unregistered CommenterRico

Once again, you have dug up a classic. Have you seen the Princess Cake in the December issue of Martha Stewart Living? I'd never heard of it before, but once again, you are on the cutting edge of cakedom, even trumping Martha herself!

Now that is a brilliant cake. It looked like it was hard to ice, but the finished product is excellent!

November 16 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

AMAZING CAKESPY ! I made cuppies ...I"m so excited.....they were yummy and we thought of you !

November 16 | Unregistered CommenterQueen B.

The princess cake is THE cake in Sweden, but I had no idea that anybody knew what they were in the US. They're in every bakery here, and probably the most common birthday cake. But they're almost always green, and I've never heard of macaroons being added, & I don't think they usually have so many layers... yours is way fancier! I have a craving for a piece now!

November 16 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan
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