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.