Diplomatico — A Chocolate Dessert with Rum and Coffee

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| Servings: 6 to 8 servings

Is There any other dessert like diplomatico, I wonder, that rewards such little effort with such gratifying results? You never even have to turn on the oven because you utilize ready-made pound cake. Slices of rum- and coffee-soaked cake are alternated with a simple mousse-like mixture of melted chocolate and eggs, and basically that is all there is to it. You can’t go wrong. Put in a little less rum, add a little more chocolate, add or subtract an egg, and it will still be a great success. – Marcela Hazan


For the Rum and Coffee Soak

  • 5 tablespoons rum
  • 1¼ cups strong espresso coffee
  • 5 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons water

Note Some pound cakes absorb more than others, and the rum and coffee mixture may not suffice for soaking all the slices; have additional coffee and rum available and prepare more, if you need to, guided by the proportions given above.

  • A 16-ounce pound cake
  • Cheesecloth
  • A 9-inch rectangular cake pan (if you like your dessert to be tall rather than broad, use a narrow loaf pan)

For the Chocolate Filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • A double boiler
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate in drops or chopped up or grated squares

The Frosting

  • (If you prefer chocolate) 4 ounces semisweet chocolate in drops or chopped up or grated squares
  • (If you prefer whipped cream) 1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • A copper or other mixing bowl kept in the freezer

The Garnish

  • Fresh berries OR walnuts and candied fruit for either the chocolate or whipped cream frosting


For the rum and coffee soak

  1. In a small bowl combine the rum, espresso, sugar, and water. Cut the pound cake into slices 1/4 inch thick. Moisten cheesecloth with water and use it to line the inside of the cake pan with enough left over to extend beyond the pan and cover the cake later. Soak the pound cake, slice by slice in the rum and coffee mixture, then use the slices to line the bottom and sides of the pan. Leave no gaps, patching where necessary with pieces of soaked pound cake. Dip the cake slices in and out of the mixture rather quickly, otherwise they become too soggy to handle. If you run out of rum and coffee, mix some more.

For the chocolate filling:

  1. Separate the eggs, and beat the yolks with 1 teaspoon sugar until they turn pale yellow.
    Put water in the bottom of a double boiler, bring it to a gentle, but steady simmer, then put the chocolate drops or chopped or grated semisweet chocolate into the top of the double boiler. When the chocolate has melted, pour it, a little at a time, over the egg yolks, mixing rapidly, until all the chocolate has been thoroughly amalgamated into the egg yolks.
  2. Beat the egg whites in a bowl until they form stiff peaks. Mix 1 tablespoon of egg white into the chocolate and egg yolk mixture, then add the remainder folding them in gently so as not to collapse them.
  3. Spoon the chocolate filling into the pan, over the rum- and coffee-soaked cake slices. Top and cover with more slices of cake soaked in rum and coffee, and over them fold the moistened cheesecloth extending over the rim of the pan. Refrigerate until the following day at least.
    Ahead-of-time note – You can leave the diplomatico in the refrigerator for up to a week before proceeding with the next step.
  4. When you take the cake out of the refrigerator, unfold the cheesecloth, pulling it away from the top. Turn the pan over on a platter, and shake it abruptly to loosen the cake, letting it drop onto the platter. Pull off the cheesecloth covering it.
  5. If frosting with chocolate: Bring water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler. In the top put the 4 ounces of chocolate drops or chopped or grated semisweet chocolate together with 1 teaspoon butter. When the chocolate has melted, stir in the 1 tablespoon of heavy cream. Spread the frosting evenly over the top and sides of the diplomatico. Refrigerate for an hour or so until the chocolate hardens.
    If frosting with whipped cream: Put 1 cup very cold heavy cream and 1 teaspoon sugar into the bowl you had been keeping in the freezer. Whip it with a whisk until it is stiff. Use it to cover the top and sides of the cake.
  6. Garnish the cake with a simple arrangement of either walnuts and candied fruit or fresh raspberries and blueberries or other berries.


  1. If the melted chocolate is too firm to properly mix, add a little butter until it is more pliable.
  2. Use parchment paper or wax paper well buttered instead of the cheese cloth.