I won first place in my company's bake-off with this cake against some pretty stiff competition -- and it was the first time I'd done anything like this. Never made a layer cake before. But it was surprisingly easy. Some people talked about mascarpone being really expensive, but I found it at my local grocery store for $5.99. Didn't seem too bad (considering the substitute ingredients I read about would probably cost close to that). I followed the advice of others and made two layers with the instant coffee and one layer of plain cake. Worked great! Also, I've made this cake twice, and the second time I made the cake layers in advance, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and kept them in the fridge over night. Then I finished the rest of the cake the next day. Tasted just as great as the first time I made it all in one day. I had never made chocolate curls before, but it was really easy with a simple chocolate bar and vegetable peeler. Also, I used a basic mesh strainer for a fine cocoa powder on the top. Looked just like the photos! The video really helped, too. I'd watch that first (and again while cooking).
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I won first place in my company's bake-off with this cake against some pretty stiff...