NOTE: Step one is draining the ricotta so that your filling doesn’t end up watery. I wrap mine in cheesecloth, then place it in a strainer that fits over a mixing bowl. I set a heavy can on top of the cheesecloth-wrapped ricotta and let it drain overnight in the refrigerator.
Beat the cake mix with the yogurt, oil, and water – slowly at first to combine the ingredients, then on medium speed for two minutes. Pour the batter into two 8” cake pans.
Let the cake cool completely.
Beat the ricotta, mascarpone, and cream cheese together until thoroughly blended. Add the vanilla, orange juice, almond extract, cinnamon, salt, and powdered sugar until all are well combined. (NOTE: add the sugar one cup at a time and mix slowly at first so that powdered sugar doesn’t go flying out of the mixing bowl. Trust me, it happens!)
Gently fold the chocolate chips into the filling mix. Start with half a cup of chips. Add more if desired.
Flip the first cake layer out of its pan onto a plate upside down, so that the flat bottom is on the top. Add a heaping amount of filling and spread it. Place the second layer on top and frost the top and sides with the filling. (NOTE: add the second layer right-side up, so that the flat bottom of it sits on top of the first layer.)
To duplicate my design:
Mix cake batter as directed, but add in 2 eggs for a firmer cake texture. Bake and cool as directed.
Before making the frosting, line a baking sheet with 2 layers of heavy duty paper towels. After draining the ricotta overnight, spread the ricotta in a thin layer on top of the paper towels. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Scoop the ricotta into a mixing bowl and proceed with the frosting recipe. Discard the paper towels.
Mix 1-1/2 cups frosting with 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips. Use as the filling between the two layers of cake.
Beat in an additional 1 – 2 cups powdered sugar into the reserved frosting, until fairly stiff. Spread a thin coat (crumb coat) of frosting over the cake and refrigerate until set. Spread a heavy layer of frosting over the crumb coat. Press 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips around the base of the cake, to make a 2-inch border. Using a large star tip, use the remaining frosting to pipe swirls or rosettes over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until firm.