The recipes in our series “Homemade Gourmet” take the thought and time out of cooking without sacrificing their flavor or gourmet appeal. This delicate tiramisu cake made with Harry & David’s tiramisu coffee comes from Bianca Dodson of Lenox Bakery.

One of my absolute favorite things to do in the summer is to throw some burgers or steaks on the grill and invite my sisters over for dinner. I’m always trying to come up with fun summer desserts that will go perfect with the meal, can be made ahead of time, and will help us cool off. Tiramisu is one of those desserts because not only can it be made in advance, but it’s typically served cold.

Tiramisu is an Italian dessert traditionally made with ladyfingers soaked in coffee layered between smooth mascarpone cheese and dusted with cocoa powder. Typically it’s made in a casserole dish or in a single-serving size, but I like to put an elegant spin on this classic treat by creating a tiramisu cake. Yes, that’s right — a tiramisu cake!

cut tiramisu cake

Despite the different shape and slightly different ingredients, this version of tiramisu checks off all the boxes: it’s moist, fluffy, easy to make, chocolatey, chilled, topped with a silky smooth mascarpone frosting, dusted with cocoa powder, and loaded with coffee flavor. It’s seriously the perfect way to end a delicious dinner. Or start dinner should the mood strike.

What you’ll need

Instead of ladyfingers (since those wouldn’t be quite sturdy enough for a tall cake), I made a cake mix with all-purpose flour, sugar, butter, vegetable oil, milk, sour cream, leavening agents, salt, eggs, and vanilla extract. The flour and sour cream give the cake the perfect crumb as well as help the cake hold up after being soaked with coffee. The oil and milk help keep it moist, and the salt, sugar, and vanilla help enhance all the flavors.

Harry & David’s tiramisu coffee is the secret ingredient in this recipe; normally regular coffee is used to create tiramisu, so tiramisu-flavored coffee packs a double punch! You can also mix the coffee with rum for an extra flavorful twist. This is totally optional, but highly recommended.

layering and frosting the tiramisu cake

Finally, the filling and icing are created from mascarpone, powdered sugar, and heavy cream. Mascarpone is silky-smooth, which makes it perfect for frosting; the sugar gives it a little sweetness while the cream helps make the cheese fluffy and spreadable.

Cooking tips

You’ll want to set all your ingredients out ahead of time so that they’re at room temperature when you’re ready to bake — eggs, butter (until soft), and sour cream included. This will help everything mix together smoothly. Be sure not to over-mix the cake, which can weaken it and make it fall apart after soaking it with the coffee. You also don’t want to overbake it, which can make it too hard; that’s not fun to eat, and not good for soaking up the maximum amount of coffee flavor. You’ll know the cake’s done when it starts to pull away from the edges of the pan.

For best results, make the cake at least 2-3 hours ahead of time to allow the coffee enough time to soak through the cake. Plus, that saves you time for catching up with your guests rather than spending the evening in the kitchen.

Types of mascarpone

When purchasing mascarpone cheese, be sure that it is full fat. This is super important for the frosting so that it won’t curdle when combined with the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and coffee. Look for mascarpone that specifically says “for tiramisu.”

Storing the cake

Since this is made with cheese, you’ll want to be sure that you keep it refrigerated until ready to serve. The best way to store this cake is to use a cake container with a lid, to seal it and prevent it from damage. This will help keep the cake fresh and moist for up to two days.

Tiramisu Cake

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Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

For mascarpone frosting

  • 5 cups full-fat mascarpone
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup Harry & David Tiramisu Coffee (ground, brewed, and cold)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream

For cake

  • 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ? cup granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole milk (room temperature)
  • cup sour cream (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For brushing cake

  • ½ cup Harry & David Tiramisu Coffee (ground, brewed, and cold)
  • 1 tablespoon rum (optional)

Instructions 

To make mascarpone frosting

  • In a stand mixer using the wire whip, blend the mascarpone and powdered sugar together for 2-3 minutes on medium speed.
  • Slowly pour in the cooled coffee and mix on medium speed for an additional 1 minute.
  • Add in the heavy cream and vanilla extract and mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes.

To make tiramisu cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick baking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • Measure out the milk, oil, and sour cream then set aside.
  • In a stand mixer cream the softened butter and sugar together for 3-5 minutes until pale, light, and fluffy.
  • Mix in eggs one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. Add in vanilla extract.
  • Mix in flour and milk mixture, alternating between the two, starting and stopping with the flour mixture.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the 3 pans and bake for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing cake from the pans.
  • Poke each cake layer with a toothpick or fork, creating several holes in the cake. Brush each layer generously with the coffee and rum mixture.
  • Frost the first layer of cake with mascarpone frosting, stack the next layer on top, and repeat until all three layers are stacked with frosting between. Frost the sides and top of the cake until completely covered.
  • Liberally dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder.
  • Chill the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to serving and enjoy!
Author: Bianca Dodson
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Author

Bianca runs the food blog Lenox Bakery where she shares easy and delicious dessert recipes for home bakers. She is a mom to one amazing 5-year-old boy who shares her love of all things sweet and is her official taste-tester and assistant pastry chef.

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