That is not a cup of coffee you see, it’s tiramisu cake. Tiramisu is my husband’s favorite dessert. When I told him I was making a tiramisu cake as part of Tuesday’s with Dorie, he was perplexed. Why? Tiramisu needs to remain what it is. He means the traditional recipe.
I will have to agree with him. The cake, while a great tasting cake, seems to be a dessert unto itself. Even though the cake was good to eat, that frame of reference comparing it to tiramisu was there and that made it hard to appreciate. A traditional tiramisu is soaked with liquor and espresso and slathered with mascarpone cheese, made into a fluffy custard, and best eaten with a spoon. The ratio of cream to cake is closer to 1 to 1. This recipe threw us off a bit, because there is a lot more cake than cream.
The recipe calls for espresso syrup and Kahlúa (or amaretto or brandy), but I think it needed more of each. As much as I thought I soaked the cake with the syrup, it went almost unnoticed and I had a feeling it wasn’t enough. Maybe it was something in the way I made the cake, but it needed more espresso flavor. And it needed to be wetter. But, as you can see, I can’t seem to get away from comparing it to a traditional tiramisu.
Aside from making a large cake, I made two smaller tarts, just right to put into the above cappuccino cups. I think I like it best made this way, and eaten more like pudding cake, as long there is added syrup to make the cake really wet.
Having said all of that, I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few days and if I were to remake it, I would do one of several things:
Slice each cake in two, making it a four-layer cake and soaking each layer with a bit more espresso syrup.
• Make cupcakes and fill each with some of the cream and again on top, layer the chocolate between two layers of cream frosting.
• Make one layer in a rectangular pan and double the syrup.
Mascarpone Cheese, a Key Ingredient
The good news is that it is still hard to go wrong with anything that has mascarpone cheese, a triple cream cheese, originating in Italy.
The cows that produce mascarpone are fed herbs and flowers. Can you imagine the thought behind that? It is not really a cheese, but a culture that is added to the cream of skim milk. It is delicious eaten by itself with fruit, often seen in dessert cakes, but can also be included in a savory dish and made into a pasta sauce.
It’s quite rich, and a little goes a long way. It used to be found only in gourmet stores, but the popularity of tiramisu has made mascarpone much more readily available at the local grocer.
- CAKE INGREDIENTS
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoons salt
- 1¼ cups butter unsalted, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- ESPRESSO EXTRACT
- 2 T instant espresso powder
- 2 T boiling water
- ESPRESSO SYRUP INGREDIENTS
- ½ cup water
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon Kahlúa, or brandy
- FILLING & FROSTING INGREDIENTS
- 1 8 oz mascarpone
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- 1 tablespoons Kahlúa or brandy
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 3 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate,divided.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Sift cake flour, baking powder, salt in bowl. Set aside.
- Beat butter until creamy with a paddle attachment with mixer or electric mixer for three minutes.
- Cream sugar and butter for three minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time and beat for a minute each. Add vanilla
- On low speed add in buttermilk and dry ingredients in three additions. Begin and end with flour mixture.
- Bake for 28 to 30 minutes at 350.
- ESPRESSO EXTRACT INSTRUCTIONS (See Note)
- Mix together until blended. Set Aside.
- ESPRESSO SYRUP INSTRUCTIONS (See Note)
- Bring sugar and water together just until boiling. Add above espresso extract and liqueur or brandy. Set aside.
- FILLING AND FROSTING INSTRUCTIONS
- Blend mascarpone, confectioner's sugar, vanilla and Kahlúa or brandy and whisk just until smooth.
- Whip heavy cream until it holds stiff peaks. Using a rubber spatula stir in ¼ of whipped cream into the mascarpone.
- Gently fold in remaining whipped cream.
- ASSEMBLE CAKE
- FOR A FOUR LAYER CAKE
- Bake cakes in two 9 inch pans. Divide into 4 equal parts.
- Using pastry brush, brush some espresso syrup over bottom layer, saving 1 tablespoon of the syrup for the final frosting.
- Shave chocolate. You will use this for each layer, sparingly.
- Save some of this for the final decorating step.
- Spread some mascarpone cream over and gently press some of the chopped chocolate into the filling.
- Use 1 cup or so only for this step, saving the frosting for the final layer.
- Repeat with each of first three layers.
- FINAL FROSTING INSTRUCTIONS
- Whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon of espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Apply frosting on sides and top.
- Decorate with espresso beans or my personal choice, some shaved chocolate.
- Refrigerate, but serve a little less chilled. Take out 30 minutes prior to serving.