Mascarpone Cake with Red Wine Prunes from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person

This tangy-light mascarpone cake is studded with sweet, flavorful prunes simmered in red wine. It’s the kind of recipe that will make a dessert person out of anyone, which is a skill Claire Saffitz; recipe developer, video personality & former Senior Food Editor at Bon Appétit, has mastered.

Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person cookbook is a feast for the eyes (and sweet tooth), but her combination of prunes, red wine, and mascarpone cheese here really stole our hearts. Originally inspired by a dessert at Frankies Sputino in Brooklyn, this mascarpone cake pairs a light texture with softened prunes and rich, warm spiced red wine syrup–it’s equally as great for a weeknight dessert as it is for a holiday spread.

Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time:
Cook Time:


for the Red Wine Prunes:

  • 8 oz pitted California prunes (about 20-25, depending on size)
  • 1 ½ cups California Pinot Noir or lighter red wine
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, or ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Optional: 1 star anise pod 


for the Mascarpone Cake:

  • Cooking spray or butter for the pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp Diamond Crystal* kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup mascarpone, divided, at room temperature
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp finely-grated lemon zest

*Diamond Crystal salt is flakier and less dense than others, but can be substituted with ½ tsp of most other brands


For the Red Wine Prunes:

Add the pitted prunes, red wine, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and star anise (optional) to a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then stir to dissolve the sugar and lower to a gentle simmer. Swirl the pan occasionally and cook for 40-50 minutes, until the prunes are soft but still holding shape, and the wine has reduced to about ¼ cup of thick syrup. Set aside to cool thoroughly.

Preparing the Mascarpone Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray or butter the bottom and sides of the cake pan, then line the bottom with a disc cut from parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and kosher salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolks, and sugar until combined, and the mixture is pale (about 1 minute). Add in ½ cup of the mascarpone, the melted butter, vanilla, and lemon zest. Continue whisking until the mixture is consistent and smooth in texture. 

Add the egg and butter mixture to the dry ingredients. Fold or gently whisk everything together just enough to coat the flour and create a smooth batter. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and spread into an even layer.

Use a small spoon to remove the prunes from the syrup one at a time, draining each of any excess syrup. Dot them throughout the batter to cover the cake evenly–it’s okay if some of these touch. Reserve the syrup for serving.

Bake the cake 45-60 minutes on a center rack, until the top is golden brown throughout and firm to the touch–a toothpick inserted into the center will come out wet but mostly clean. Use a large piece of foil to tent the cake if it’s getting too much color before cooking all the way through. Let the cake cool completely in the pan.

Serving the cake:

Once cooled, run a paring knife around the side of the pan, then cover with a plate and flip to remove the cake. Remove the pan, peel off the parchment paper, then cover the cake with a serving plate and flip again. Slice and serve with a dollop of the remaining mascarpone and a drizzle of the red wine syrup! 


Red Wine + Prunes: a Dessert Person match made in heaven.

Once you’ve mastered Claire Saffitz’s Mascarpone Cake recipe, you’ll definitely want to try these other amazing dessert recipes that pair red wine + prunes: