Guys, if you thought you liked eating regular tiramisu, just wait until you see what happens when you stack it like a birthday cake. Straight up MAGICAL. Making this tiramisu cake is one of the better choices I’ve made recently. Unlike some things in life, this cake is a no-brainer.
Someone recently asked me if Brett and I planned to have any more children. At the time, I think I was bouncing a fussy George on one hip while Aimee cried loudly from time out in the next room over. I diffused that question with a laugh and gestured towards the two crying babies as if to say, “Ha! Not any time soon.”
One of my (many) prerequisites for having more children is that someone has to be potty trained. Someone needs to be able to manage their own bathroom situation without mom having to get involved. I can’t simultaneously change the diaper of one child and wipe the bottom of another while a newborn is latched on to my boob. Moms may have superpowers but I’ve only got two hands, okay?
Brett and I have spent the last few months casually trying to potty train Aimee, and while there have been some major improvements, we’re just not quite there yet. In fact, I’m convinced Aimee is pretty much using the toilet to scratch her itch for candy. “Mama, if Aimee goes peepee on the potty, I get candy?” “Mama, Aimee sat on the potty at school today- you give me candy?” “Mama, come look in the potty! There’s peepee! Aimee get candy!” You can’t blame the girl. IT’S CANDY. It’s practically a form of currency for toddlers. (Sidenote: Please watch this bit of Jerry Seinfeld standup where he talks about kids and candy. HILARIOUS.)
So I’ve basically resorted to whoring out our candy drawer for any degree of bathroom activity, because I am desperate to get out of this phase of life where I have to change two sets of diapers. Unfortunately, no amount of candy can stand up against the wants of a stubborn child. Aimee, my strong-willed beauty, who even at 2 years old already has unique certainty of who she is and what she wants, has decided she does not want to be entirely potty trained. She is perfectly content to wear a pull-up 24/7, and no amount of begging, bribing, encouragement or discipline will change that until she is ready. So what’s a girl to do? Let the kid eat, breathe, sleep in the bathroom just in case she decides to go? That sounds sanitary. Maybe keep changing the diapers? That sounds tiresome. Maybe I’ll just pour a cocktail and let dad do the work. Wait, that actually sounds brilliant…I’ve only been doing this for a couple of years, so I don’t have all of the mom stuff figured out yet. What I do know is cake. So let’s talk about that instead.
This tiramisu cake is decadent. A take on the old Italian classic, this cake is three layers of creamy, coffee, moist cakey goodnesss and is a stunning way to transform an otherwise plain looking dessert. We start by baking the cake layers. I use a simple vanilla cake recipe adapted from the brilliant Rose Levy Beranbaum. She makes most things perfect, so you can trust this recipe. The cake layers are moist yet dense and stable enough to handle the soak and cream filling this cake sports.
Once the layers are baked, cooled, and ready for stacking, we make the mascarpone cream frosting by beating together the cheese, sugar, cream, and Kahlua. Next, we soak the cakes in some coffee and liquor mainly because that’s what you do with tiramisu but also because booze and caffeine are the lifeblood of any decent parent, AMIRITE!?! I chose to assemble this tiramisu cake in the same way that I stack my naked cakes in order to keep the layers tidy and pretty, but if you’re desperate to just face-plant into the cake and don’t care what it looks like you can totally bypass this step. Once assembled, the cake take a long nap in the fridge before it’s ready to be served and enjoyed.
Even though I’m a sucker for cake in general, somehow this tiramisu cake gets to me. The texture, the flavors, the way it reminds me of the many slices of tiramisu that I’ve had before- everything just screams “YES!” to me. This tiramisu cake gets better over time, so it’s a great dessert to make ahead, store in the fridge, and serve a day or two later. The coffee soak and mascarpone whipped cream filling keep the cake moist, so you can continue to enjoy it 3, 4, maybe even 5 days after preparing it. No guarantees it will go that long uneaten though. If you’re in a rush and don’t want to fuss with a homemade cake, of course you can substitute a box cake mix, but keep in mind that there will be enough mascarpone filling for 3 layers of cake, so you’ll need more than a single box of cake mix.
You guys know me. I make no qualms about having my ducks in a row or always knowing what to do when it comes to stuff like being a mom, wife, or official potty trainer. But this tiramisu cake? You can bank on it. If you’re a coffee lover, a cake lover, or a booze lover, this tiramisu cake is bound to make all of your dreams come true. Scouts honor.
Give the recipe a try let me know what you think! I think it’d be perfect for your next dinner party, birthday, or casual “It’s Wednesday and I love myself” gathering. If you need me, I’ll be over here in the land of Skittles and mini toddler-sized toilets, s if you have any words of wisdom on managing the bowels of tiny humans, I’ll gladly listen. Happy Tuesday and cheers to you!
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- 4 cups (400 gm) cake flour
- 2 cups sugar (400 gm)
- 2 tablespoons (30 gm) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 230 gm) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) buttermilk, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup (180 mL) strong brewed coffee (warm or cold, doesn’t matter)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) Kahlua or coffee liquor
- 1-2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)
- 16 ounces (460 gm) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 8 ounces (230 gm) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1-1/2 cups (170 gm) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon Kahlua
- 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup (30 gm) cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8” round pans. Place parchment rounds in the bottom of each one for easy removal, if desired.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients until well dispersed, about 30 seconds. Add the softened butter and ¾ of the buttermilk to the dry ingredients. Keep the mixer on low until slightly combined and then increase to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the rest of the buttermilk and one egg and beat on low for 30 seconds to incorporate. Add the additional egg and the vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold in any unincorporated batter.
- Spread the batter evenly among the three pans and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted should come out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove from pan and remain cooling on a rack until room temperature. If you don’t plan to use the cakes immediately, wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
- Combine the coffee and coffee liquor in a small bowl. Taste the mixture. If it doesn’t have a strong coffee flavor, you can sprinkle in some of the espresso powder for an extra punch of coffee. If you would prefer a more mild coffee flavor, this is not necessary.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium sized bowl, beat together the mascarpone cheese and cream cheese until combined and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the powdered sugar and Kahlua and beat briefly to combine. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. To do this, start the mixer on low and beat until the cream gets frothy. Increase the speed to high and beat until the whipping cream has barely thickened enough to stand up in straight peaks on its own. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture until smooth.
- Level all three cake layers using a serrated knife. (Note: I find it easiest to level cakes when they are still partially frozen.) Use a basting or pastry brush to "'soak" each cake layer with the soak. Continue adding the coffee liquid to the cakes until they are well moistened, but not to where the coffee has dredged all the way through and has made the cake fall apart. You may not use all of the soak.
- On top of one soaked cake layer, spread about 1-1/4-1-1/2 cups of the mascarpone whipped cream and smooth out the top. Add an additional cake layer on top and repeat this process. Add the final cake layer to the top of the cake and spread a generous amount of whipped cream on top. Continue frosting the sides as well.
- You can allow the cake to chill and firm up in the fridge for a few hours if desired, or you can serve it immediately. I prefer to allow the cake to sit in the fridge so that the cake layers can continue to soften and soak up the coffee and the cream.
- Prior to serving, use a sifter to sprinkle some cocoa powder on top of the cake.
- Notes: To prepare the cake as I did, as a naked cake, see the link in the post, or find the confetti ice cream cake in my blog archives. There are directions there for how to assemble a naked cake.
- If you have another favorite recipe for a vanilla or white cake, feel free to substitute here.
- If you choose not to prepare the cake in a "naked' fashion, consider chilling the whipped cream in the fridge briefly so that it can firm up a bit. This will help keep the cream from just squishing out the sides when you stack your cakes.