Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Birthday to me. . . (Tiramisu Cake)

Yes, I am known for arriving late for most occasions, and my birthday was no exception. As I walked through Russo's Italian Pizza Restaurant, I easily spotted my close friends and to no surprise saw that my requested margarita pizza had be eaten and none was left for the late birthday girl. Luckily, I had my lovely tiramisu cake to make up for the lost pizza thanks to a very trusted website of My birthday would not have been complete with out my birthday cake that I agonized over for weeks and searched multiple recipes and websites for at least a month until I came upon the absolute, perfect birthday cake that describes me almost a little too well.

Hands down, with nothing to think about, this was by far (or should I say by oceans far?) the best birthday cake that I have ever tasted and made before in my seventeen years of life. Smitten Kitchen gave me the basis for the cake, but I however, redesigned the cake from the inside out to add a little bit of me to the lovely masterpiece I like to call Tiramisu Birthday Cake. I might add that every one of my friends and family who were lucky enough to have a bite of the cake loved it as well, and eagerly dug in for seconds. (That is other than my good friend Jo-Jo who unfortunately is not a cake lover.) Lets just say I had none but the plate and seventeen candles left by the end of the night. . .

I made this a two layer cake, but hey! the more the layers the better the cake I say! Because this was my birthday, and I wanted top of the line ingredients for a top of the line cake. I used the trusted and delicious Ghirardelli chocolate bars. As the recipe originally called for a whipped icing, i had to spruce it up by adding chocolate ganache to the icing. (I have been known to be a bit of a chocolateholic.) I also added chocolate chips around the top of my cake for garnish along with grated chocolate to add a bit more bolder colors. (Yes, cheese graters work well for chocolate too!)

For the cake layers:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the espresso extract:
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water
*if it is hard to find instant espresso powder, just make some instant black coffee and use a little bit more
For the espresso syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Kahlua
For the filling and frosting:
1 8-ounce container mascarpone
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
For the Frosting (if you would like to add more chocolate):
about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of whipping cream
a few blocks of chocolate (about 4 ounces or so)
Butter two 9×2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Working with  a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
*REMEMBER: the more beating, the better*
Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them, and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.
*REMEMBER: always bake for less; it is much harder to fix a burnt cake than a not fully baked cake!*
To make the extract:
Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.
To make the syrup:
Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur or brandy; set aside.
To make the filling and frosting:
Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth.
*for the frosting*: swirl in the chocolate ganache (but not until the VERY end)
Working with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.
To assemble the cake:
Place one layer right-side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer – user about 1 1/4 cups – and gently press the chopped chocolate into the filling. Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining espresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.

For the frosting, whisk 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add. If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.
With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. Garnish the top with chocolate chips and grated chocolate for bolder colors
Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or for up to 1 day) before serving – the elements need time to meld
. . . and this is my very first recipe on my very first blog. . .


  1. Happy birthday! Tiramisu is one of those things that I hated for years but have come around to in my 'grown up' years. A cake version sounds great - Smitten Kitchen is always fab for recipe inspiration.

  2. Why thank you! I have never really tried Tiramisu cake before, but it sounded so perfect I had to try it.
    I also think your blog is a wonderful inspiration as well, and I absolutely love it.