2 cups granulated sugar

 1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening, softened

 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened

 5 large eggs, separated

 2 cups all-purpose flour

 1 teaspoon baking soda

 1/2 teaspoon salt

 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

 1 teaspoon vanilla

Soaking Syrup

½ cup Kahlua

½ cup water

1 teaspoon espresso powder


16 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup butter, softened

6 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 cup Marsala

2 tablespoons vanilla

cream as needed

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely ground

1 cup assorted berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries) to serve with cake.


 Preheat oven to 375°F. and generously grease and flour the sides of three 8- by 2-inch round cake pans, knocking out any excess flour.  Lightly spray the bottom with cooking spray and line with parchment round; spray paper lightly with cooking spray.  For baby cakes or muffins, line muffin tins with paper liners

 In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together sugar, shortening, and butter until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Into another bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat flour mixture into egg mixture in 2 batches alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until combined. Add vanilla.  In another clean bowl, beat egg whites in until they just hold stiff peaks. Fold into batter gently but thoroughly.

 Divide batter among pans, or cupcake tins, smoothing tops, and bake in upper two thirds of oven, switching position of pans in oven halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes for layers and about 20 minutes for cupcakes.  Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes and then invert onto racks to cool completely.  When cool, split layers into two layers each.

Soaking Syrup: Mix all ingredients in small heavy saucepan. Boil over medium-high heat until mixture is reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Cool syrup completely.

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light. Gradually add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add Marsala and vanilla and beat until well blended.  Add small amounts of cream until spreadable consistency is reached. Cover and let stand at room temperature up to 1 hour.

To assemble:

Spread a dab of frosting on serving platter and place first layer (of 6) centered on platter.  Brush with Soaking syrup, spread with frosting, sprinkle with chocolate.  Continue layering and filling until cake is stacked. Chill throughly.  Frost cake with remainng frosting when cake is firm.  Serve with fresh berries.