If there's one deli treat that totally defines New York City, it's the black-and-white cookie. Seriously, it's hard to find a deli in Manhattan that doesn't serve the half vanilla-half chocolate-frosted cookie and that makes us very, very happy. The other thing that makes us happy? That Shauna decided to take the classic cookie and turn it into this epic breakfast treat for her latest cookbook, REAL SWEET.
spooned and leveled
(dark or very dark preferred), divided
or vanilla bean paste, divided
at room temperature
(60% to 70% cacao), chopped
Preheat the griddle over low heat for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the pancake batter.
You want the griddle nice and hot over as low heat as possible to avoid burning the pancakes and giving them ample time to cook through.
For the pancake batter: Into a large bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup of the unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt.
In a large measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the 1 cup of the pure maple syrup, 1 cup of the yogurt, 1/2 cup of water, eggs, oil, and vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Using a whisk, energetically blend the batter by hand until smooth and thick, about 1 minute.
With all the chocolate power in this recipe, using the darkest maple syrup in the cake and the filling will help the maple flavor come forward a little more.
Spray the griddle generously with nonstick spray. Making 2 pancakes at a time, pour two ½-cup scoops of batter onto the griddle. Use the back of a spoon to gently swirl and coax the pancakes into 7-inch circles. Cook the pancakes until the edges appear dry and set and bubbles are no longer popping on the surfaces, about 4 minutes on the first side. Use a thin, flexible metal spatula to gently flip the pancakes. Cook about 2 minutes more, or until the centers of the pancakes spring back when lightly touched. Remove the layers to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat the batter scooping and cooking process until you have 8 cake layers.
You can also use a very large heavy-bottomed skillet; you’ll just have to cook the pancakes one at a time, and the cooking time may vary. Be prepared to lower the heat accordingly if the pancakes are threatening to burn—just as with making regular breakfast pancakes, depending on your griddle and your stove, it may take a bit of adjusting to get the heat just right. Making a tiny test pancake before cooking the rest of the layers can let you know if you're on the right track.
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and place 4 cake layers in a single layer on each sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.
Make the cream filling: Pour the 1/2 cup of heavy cream into a medium bowl. Whip the cream on high speed to stiff peaks. In a separate medium bowl, place the 1/2 cup of mascarpone, 1 1/2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract. Beat on low speed, just until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken, about 30 seconds—don’t overbeat, or the mascarpone will seize. Gently fold in the whipped cream until smooth.
Make the ganache filling: Combine the 5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate with the remaining 6 tablespoons of heavy cream in a small heatproof bowl. Microwave on high power for 45 to 60 seconds. Whisk the ganache until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth and the texture of chocolate pudding. Remove about 2 tablespoons of ganache to a small bowl and set aside for garnish.
To assemble the cake: Remove the pancake layers from the refrigerator. Inspect the layers; choose the most handsome to be the top layer and set it aside. Place 1 cake layer on a serving platter or cake stand. Dollop on 1/3 cup of the maple mascarpone cream and use a small offset spatula to smooth it out, with a 1/2-inch border all around. Place a second layer on top, and press lightly to help it adhere. Spread about 2 1/2 tablespoons of ganache onto the layer, also with a 1/2-inch border around the cake. Continue the layering process 6 more times, alternating maple mascarpone cream and chocolate ganache with the layers, placing the best-looking cake layer on top.
To the remaining chocolate ganache, add a drizzle of cream, only about 1/2 teaspoon or so, just enough to thin it to a honeylike consistency (warm the ganache in the microwave for about 10 seconds or so to loosen it up first, if necessary). Drizzle the ganache artfully over the cake. Chill the cake for about 30 minutes before serving.
This cake can be made up to 1 day in advance (let it soften on the counter for 15 minutes before slicing).
Recipe by Shauna Sever // Photography by Leigh Beisch