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« Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies | Main | Ladyfingers »

Tiramisu Cake

Tiramisu Cake

Sometimes I feel like Life is a charismatic game show host. Microphone in hand, he leads you to the center of the stage, your stage, as an unseen audience applauds and whistles. When the convivial music swells and the lights dim, Life turns to you and his voice resounds across the room as he announces that it is time for you to make a decision. The audience immediately hushes to a whisper, rapt with attention, waiting to hear your answer with anticipation.

Three brightly colored doors stand in front of you. As your palms sweat and you wonder how you found yourself here, in this moment, Life turns to you and asks the question again.

Will it be Door Number One, Door Number Two, or Door Number Three?

Tiramisu Cake Tiramisu Cake

I have a decision to make, and soon. The clock is ticking down and I find myself acutely aware of each minute as I panic to choose between the three doors standing before me today. Big Life Decisions were never my forte, but I'm not as afraid of them as I was just a few years ago. I've grown up a little since then (and gotten to know myself a little better). After fumbling around with Big Life Decisions for the last couple years, I've realized that, though they may be "big," there is nothing about them that needs to be permanent.

I don't do well with permanence or finality. As if to illustrate my point, while shopping with my mother yesterday, we stumbled across a set of brightly colored mixing bowls with a pricetag at seventeen dollars. I was thinking of buying them since I don't have a set to call my own. Discussing the pros and cons, my mother joked I would probably have these the rest of my life. The rest of my life?

I put them back on the shelf and walked away, not ready to make a decision that would have such far reaches, even if it was just a set of mixing bowls.

Tiramisu Cake

I can recognize the irony of needing to make a Big Life Decision when I can't even make a seventeen dollar decision. However, if there is anything I've learned about Big Life Decisions, it's that life tends to sort itself out and everything ends up all right, even if there are times when it feels like it won't. If I bought the mixing bowls and they weren't what I expected, the world wouldn't end. The walls wouldn't come crashing down. I'd trust that I would find a way for everything to be all right, even if it was just to toss them out and start anew.

So today, I choose door number one. I'm not sure quite what it will hold or where it will lead me. The ideal job for me might not be behind any of those three doors and, if it isn't, it's because it's not the right time in my life for me to find it. I've spent the last few months fearing the need to make this decision and, now that it has finally been made, it's time to find out the answer to the question on my mind.

What's behind door number one?

Tiramisu Cake Tiramisu Cake

This Tiramisu Cake is light, creamy, and divine. I made it as a joint birthday cake for my sister and grandfather. The nine of us present at the party managed to finish off all but two small pieces (even after an Easter feast). This cake tastes just like tiramisu should. Two cake layers are soaked in espresso and covered with a creamy mascarpone frosting. The cake is sprinkled with a layer of cocoa powder and covered in a layer of chocolate shavings. To take it over the top, I added a ring of homemade ladyfingers around the edge and secured it up with a ribbon. Now this is one cake I wouldn't mind unwrapping...

One Year Ago: Blueberry Coffee Cake and Vanilla Pear Muffins

Tiramisu Cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

Cake layers
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease 2 8 or 9-inch baking pans.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the cream.

Divide batter evenly between baking pans and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back when touched. Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Espresso extract
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons hot water

In a small bowl, whisk together espresso powder and hot water. Set aside.

Espresso syrup
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Kahlua (optional)

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in kahlua and 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract. Set aside.

Filling and frosting
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Kahlua (optional)
4-5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate shavings
Cocoa powder, for dusting
20-30 ladyfingers, for garnish (homemade and store-bought work equally well)

In a large bowl, whip heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks.

In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and kahula. Whisk in the remaining espresso extract (about 1-2 tablespoons). Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.

To Assemble
If the top of the cakes have crowned, use a long serrated knife to trim off the top of the cakes to make them level. Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Using a pastry brush, soak the top of the cake in 1/3 of the espresso syrup. Spread the top with 1/3 of the mascarpone frosting. Sprinkle with 2 ounces shaved semi-sweet chocolate.

While the second cake layer is resting on the counter, soak the top with another 1/3 of the espresso syrup. Carefully flip the cake upside down and place the cake on top of the other, soaked side down. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining espresso syrup. Spread the remaining mascarpone frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

Dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder until the mascarpone frosting is no longer visible. Press ladyfingers onto the mascarpone frosting on the outside of the cake, spacing them evenly apart. Secure ladyfingers with a ribbon lightly tied around the cake (brown ribbon looks nice, but cream colored ribbon provides a lighter touch). Sprinkle remaining chocolate shavings over the top of the cake.

Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I'd suggest making the cake one day prior to serving it as the flavors have time to properly meld, but if you can't resist cutting into it, I understand the temptation.

Reader Comments (46)

Absolutely gorgeous!
04.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie
This is absolutely beautiful!!! :D
It's so beautiful :) How did you manage to cut into it?
04.29.2012 | Unregistered Commentersydney Jones
I can completely relate to the making choices thing. I have a hard enough time choosing what to get at a restaurant, but bigger decisions? They take me weeks of angsting and I'm never fully happy, always worrying what if I made the wrong choice.
Beautiful cake though.
04.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngela
Yeah, door number one! Good choice. It's a beautiful cake and I love the colors in these pictures!

Good luck with your big decision. :)
Your pictures are so amazinbg and beautiful, as is the cake.
Oh it's so beautiful!
04.29.2012 | Unregistered Commentersweet road
Wow. If only I had a slice of this in my hands I'm sure it would chase the pesky could I have right away. I'm the same way when making decisions. Everything can feel so final, when in reality it almost never is.
I'm not much of a tiramisu fan but this gorgeous cake is totally changing my mind about that!
If only I had a piece of this I wouldn't have to worry about decisions. I totally can relate to making decisions. I'm so indecisive, it's a bit ridiculousness. Awesome looking and sounding cake!
04.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLive a Sweet Life
First time stepping at your site. Love your blog!
The photos are great & this tiramisu cake is mouth watering :)
04.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterYue
Ive been waiting for this ever since you posted the homemade mascarpone! Tiramisu cake has been on my list to make for the past 2 years and I just have not gotten around to it. Yours is GORGEOUS!
I made a tiramisu cake recently but yours looks so much more beautiful :-) I love the sponge fingers layered round the outside, and so amazing to have made them yourself AND your own mascarpone cheese! Gorgeous gorgeous post.
04.30.2012 | Unregistered Commenterthelittleloaf
Beautiful post as always! The prose was lovely and again, as always, the recipe looks divine.

Best of luck with that door you chose. Even though I'm still fairly young, I've come to realize after many huge ups and downs that everything, and I do mean everything, happens for a reason. Even if the worst possible thing that could ever happen happens there is a huge upside hidden in the turmoil that you may not see until it's all over. "Que sera, sera - whatever will be, will be - the future's not ours to see" has become my life anthem and I've never even seen the movie! (nor do I think I would like it...)

As for decisions, oh god I can totally sympathize with you there. Luckily I believe that all of my biggest decisions thus far have happened on a whim ie: out of the middle of nowhere, I started browsing craigslist and signed up for a job as a cook at a restaurant with no experience on a whim and it changed my life. But as an example of the disaster that awaits me when it comes time for me to make a big decision - I currently have about 11 boxes of frosted flake boxes sitting on the counter. Because I can't decide whether to throw them out (what if I run out and need them? what if someone visits who ONLY likes frosted flakes for breakfast? what if some insane robber drops in who ONLY wants my frosted flakes... :o) Ah, maybe I can throw out a few.

Keep up the wonderful posts! :D


- Eve
04.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEve
Oh my goodness, look what you've done with the homemade Ladyfingers and mascarpone! Quite sumptuous, I'm charmed!
04.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeb
I'm falling in love all over again!! This looks gorgeous!! As always, Love the pics!
04.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKajal
So cute wrapped up with a brown ribbon! And you even made your own lady fingers. What fun!
04.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara
Big decisions are scary, I agree. I'm not very good at taking them either (an still regret having taken some...). But there's something good we can learn behind each of them, sure! Anyway, good luck with door number two! :)

This tiramisu looks scrumptious!! I'll try to bake it as soon as I can. Thanks for sharing it!

This cake is so beautiful. I suck at making decisions too, and also, being sure of it once I've made the decision. I still need to learn.
I must MUST make this.
It's not a tiramisu. It's not a charlotte.
But somehow, it seems to be perfect ^^.
Thanks for sharing !
05.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnne-so67
This cake is stunning! Awesome job!
It's perfect. It's not a tiramisu. It's not a charlotte.
But somehow, I must make this.
05.2.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNina
I would love to bring this dessert to a party. Very elegant!
05.2.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLP @dishclips
You've done a wonderful job this cake is beautiful.
05.2.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
This cakes looked so beautiful -- I had to make it. I just put it in the fridge for Mother's Day (tomorrow) and cannot wait to cut into it. It looks awesome and the filling/frosting is SO DELICIOUS!!!! I am sure this will be a new favorite in my coffee and cake loving house! Thank you!
05.12.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne
The recipe cas for "cream" this cream heavy whipping cream?? or what kind of cream is this recipe talking about!! Wonderful cake by the way!! :)
07.25.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
The photos are wonderful, and of course, the cakes looks AMAZING! Can't wait to try. You might like my tiramisu torte recipe :-)
08.13.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHabiba
I shared this on my Saturday Pow post! :)
Oh my! That makes me drool.
10.25.2012 | Unregistered Commentermyrtle
Did you decorate the cake with lady fingers before leaving it to soak or after? I'm a bit worried about having them go stale...
Adore your website!!
10.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatrin
hi! love the receipe.

i was just wondering, what kind of cream do you use for the cake layer?
i'm planning to make this for christmas so it would be great to get a reply back!
12.20.2012 | Unregistered Commenterhelen
Helen-- I used a heavy cream, but you could use a whipping cream, half and half, or even buttermilk. It's very hard to go wrong!
12.20.2012 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
Why can't you set the recipe up so you just get the recipe and not your life story. I am tired of wasting my paper and ink on strangers life stories. Just saying....
12.21.2012 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous
Hi,I'm fr malaysia. I really love to bake but I'm just a beginner. Your recipe is wonderful. I tried this. Now its in my fridge. Tomorrow morning I'm going to present it to my hubby. Can't wait to hear his comments...
P/s: My Mascarpone frosting looks like curdled. Any particular reason...? Bcos I'm going to bake again for an event and I really want to make sure it looks and tastes good. Hope u will reply me soon. Tqvm.
Gayathri-- The mascarpone frosting is not particularly smooth and will have a more lumpy or curdled appearance (it does not have the texture of buttercream or a similar frosting). As long as it tastes delicious and spreads relatively easy, I'm guessing there is absolutely nothing wrong with it!
12.27.2012 | Registered CommenterKristin Rosenau
U r right... It tastes awesome... My hubby asked for second piece... I'm happy... Tqvm... I will do it again for CNY in my MIL house... Thx again... Could u suggest me another cake that is not coffee or choc... jus sweet as in fruity flavor n creamy smooth recipes... im sure tat's wat my typical MIL will like...
If you want a pretty cake bake this cake. If you want tiramasu do not make this. It is dry and tasteless. Nothing like tiramasu.
01.13.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous
I just made this cake and i followed the recipe step by step not to mention this is not my first time baking. The Kahlua in the frosting is way too much and the frosting was not that good at all and the cake itself was not impressive. it was a waste of ingredients and huge waste of time :(
01.13.2013 | Unregistered CommenterZpatton
I mde this cake for a friends was pretty easy to make and tasted divine..I will definately be making this one again :)
04.5.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
i love tiramisu cake, this recipe looks better to me than some other ones one the internet. thank you.
04.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterabhinav
I just finished making this cake for my dad's birthday and it looks amazing and the cake bases are delicious :) Thanks for this amazing recipe :) x
04.29.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSaranya
Thank you for the great recipe! It's so easy and tastes amazing! Xx
06.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnna
When you put the cake in the fridge does the ladyfingers get soft/ flat? That happen to me with my cake i was wondering how did you prevent it.
06.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
This was a multi-step but fairly easy cake to make. I haven't had a piece yet but all the components were delicious. I tied a big green bow around mine since it's Christmas.
12.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlice
Hi- I tried making this cake yesterday. The Marscarpone filing and the Espresso Syrup are delicious. However, the cake part I found to be extremely dry. Any thoughts on how to improve it? I also thought there was not enough mascarpone filling/espresso syrup to counteract the fact that the cake was pretty dry (i would increase that by 1.5)
03.15.2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

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