Poundcake stars in dream dessert

Treat: You start with a rich, melt-in-your-mouth luscious layer, add Mocha Custard Sauce, a sprinkling of chocolate coffee beans, then enjoy.

March 28, 2001|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

All those eggs, all that butter give poundcake its appropriate name. It's rich and dense and has a melt-in-your-mouth texture. However, poundcake is subtle. It doesn't have the dazzling good looks of a fruit pie or the flavor jolt of a chocolate layer cake.

Because of its simplicity, you might overlook poundcake when you want to make a luscious dessert. That would be a shame. With a little make-over, poundcake becomes an elegant and stunning dessert.

Start by baking a chocolate-streaked marble cake. Then create a velvety mocha sauce. Now, build the dessert of your dreams.

For a trifle, cut the cake into 1-inch-square cubes and sprinkle with coffee liqueur. Alternate layers of poundcake and Mocha Custard Sauce in a clear bowl. Top with a thin layer of whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate coffee beans. Chill the dish for an hour - restrain yourself - then dig in.

If you prefer, make a filled cake. Split the cake horizontally in half. Drizzle on the liqueur. Slather half the custard sauce on the bottom layer. Top with the other half. Cover with the rest of the sauce. Add dollops of whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate coffee beans. The cake will be easier to slice if you refrigerate it for an hour or two, until the sauce soaks in.

And if the idea of a slice of plain poundcake with a little sauce on top sounds appealing, you can do that, too. Cut the amount of poundcake you want. Then add a spoonful of sauce, a little whipped cream and a few chocolate coffee beans. Nothing subtle about this dessert.

Poundcake With Mocha Custard Sauce

Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup cake flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, melted

Mocha Custard Sauce (recipe follows)

2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur

1/4 cup whipping cream, whipped, optional

chocolate coffee beans, optional

In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Gently stir in flour and salt.

Divide batter in half. Stir vanilla into one half. Stir melted chocolate into second portion.

Spoon vanilla batter into greased and floured 7 1/2 -inch- by-3 1/2 -inch loaf pan. Gently drop chocolate batter over the top. With knife, cut into batter so that chocolate is swirled into vanilla to create marbled effect.

Bake cake at 325 degrees 1 hour or until cake tests done when pierced with wood pick. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare custard sauce and cool.

To serve, slice poundcake, sprinkle with liqueur, then spoon on custard sauce, allowing about 1/4 cup per serving. If desired, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate coffee beans.

Mocha Custard Sauce

Makes about 1 1/4 cups sauce

1 cup half--and-half

1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

dash salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

Combine half--and-half, espresso powder, cocoa powder, salt and sugar in heavy-bottomed pan. Bring to a simmer.

Beat egg yolks in bowl. Pour half of cream mixture over yolks and beat well. Pour egg mixture into pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.

Note: Both cake and sauce make 4 servings. Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 3 days. Cake can also be frozen several weeks.

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