Tiramisu is one of my absolute favourite desserts. I love the creamy mascarpone and I love the mellow coffee flavour but what I love most is that it was one of my moms favourite desserts, and one she made incredibly well! My dad always jokes that my mom put so much alcohol in her tiramisu, after 3 bites you were drunk as a skunk! I remember one year at Christmas she made a huge dish of tiramisu but I never even tasted it…none of the kids were allowed in fact. She confessed that instead of adding a few tablespoons of Tia Maria, she actually added half the bottle! I also remember that Christmas being particularly “Merry”…
So I decided to take this classic dessert and turn it into a delicious cake. Not like this is a new concept but I wanted to keep the cake as close to Tiramisu, taste-wise so I just transferred all the tastes to a sponge cake base. I decided to bake a light coffee sponge which would be just perfect when brushed with a coffee and liqueur syrup and topped with the creamy mascarpone layer. I finished the cake off with a ‘border’ of finger biscuits (lady fingers) and a good grating of dark chocolate. Finally some cocoa powder was dusted on and we could tuck in. My guests all “mmm”-ed and “aah”-ed as they were eating and I can honestly say that this was one of the most delicious cakes I have ever made. The sponge was light and moist, the mascarpone layer was ever-so-slightly sweet and coffee-flavoured and the chocolate and cocoa added the perfect amount of bitterness. Perfection in cake form!
Makes 1 large cake (serves 10-12)
for the coffee sponge
250g butter, room temperature
300g caster sugar
350g cake flour (all purpose flour)
2 tsp (10ml) baking powder
1 tsp (5ml) salt
4 extra-large eggs (I use free-range)
2 tsp (10ml) vanilla extract
1 cup milk, heated
1 tbsp (15ml) ground coffee/instant coffee
for the coffee-Frangelico syrup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp ground coffee/instant coffee
2 tbsp Frangelico (or other liqueur of your choice)
for the mascarpone-cream layer/topping
2 tubs (500g) mascarpone cheese
1 tub (250ml) double (thick) cream
2 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
2 tbsp (30ml) strong coffee
400g finger biscuits (lady fingers)
100g dark chocolate, grated
cocoa powder, for dusting
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°c and grease two (+-) 30cm cake pans and line the bottom with baking paper.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- In a different bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine.
- Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one by one, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
- Add the ground coffee/instant coffee to the warm milk and mix until dissolved.
- Add the flour mixture and the milk/coffee alternating to the the butter, sugar and eggs mixture. Make sure to mix well after each addition.
- The batter should be quite aerated and ‘moussey’ when all the ingredients have been mixed in.
- Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and place in the pre-heated oven.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack and allowing to cool completely.
- In the meantime, get started on the mascarpone filling and the coffee syrup.
- For the syrup, combine the sugar, water, coffee and Frangelico in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- For the mascarpone layer, in a large bowl, beat the mascarpone and double cream until thick. Add the sifted icing sugar and mix until well combined.
- Whilst mixing, slowly pour in the strong coffee and continue mixing until all the coffee has been incorporated.
- When the cakes are cool, brush the coffee syrup over the cakes until most of it has been absorbed. Spread 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture onto one of the cakes and sandwich with the remaining cake layer. Top the cake with the rest of the mascarpone mixture and cover the whole cake with it.
- To decorate, press the finger biscuits around the outside of the cake and top the cake with the grated chocolate. Add a dusting of cocoa powder and serve.