Tiramisu Layer Cake

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Tiramisu layer cake with it's flavors of vanilla, espresso, mascarpone, and a hint of Kahlua & cocoa is a new favorite at our house for special occasions! 

We're not making tiramisu today, but instead a heavenly tiramisu-inspired layer cake which incorporates the flavors that we love in this popular dessert.

  

This Scratch Tiramisu Cake Recipe is so moist and delicious!

 

What is Tiramisu?

Tiramisu (which translates to "pick me up" or "cheer me up" in Italian) is true to it's name--it does cheer everyone right up with it's amazing flavor.  

More specifically, this dessert which was first invented at an Italian restaurant in the 1960s consists of coffee-soaked ladyfingers layered with a sweetened mascarpone filling and a hint of cocoa.

Many versions of the recipe call for liqueur  as well. The result is a delightfully creamy, indulgent dessert that is sure to make any occasion feel more special. 

This cake, while different than actual tiramisu, has all of the fantastic flavors-- espresso, mascarpone, a hint of Kahlua, and a dusting of cocoa.

 

 How to Make Tiramisu Layer Cake

*You can find the full, printable cake recipe further down in this post, but here is a quick rundown of our steps!

Our cake layers are based on our Vanilla Bean Cake Recipe, but we substituted vanilla extract for the vanilla bean paste (just for convenience) and added espresso to the batter.

  • First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour three 8 inch x 2 inch round cake pans. I also like to line the pans with circles of parchment paper.

 

  • In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend for 30 seconds. Set aside.

 

  • In another bowl or measuring cup, combine the sour cream, milk, instant espresso granules, and vanilla.

 

  • Using a large mixing bowl with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the softened butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until fluffy and lightened in color.

 

  • Add the room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.

 

  • Next, add the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (three additions of dry ingredients, two of wet).

 

  • Mix the cake batter until combined and smooth, do not mix above medium speed or over-mix.

 

  • Divide the batter between the three 8 inch round pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool 5-10 minutes in their pans on a wire rack, then turn out.

 

  • This recipe makes seven cups batter and works well for cupcakes also!

 

 

Assembling the Tiramisu Cake

  • After baking the three cake layers, we created small holes on top using a skewer. Then, using a silicone pastry brush, we applied a slightly sweetened coffee mixture made from Kahlua and espresso. 

 

This Tiramisu Layer Cake is the best! It is a heavenly combination of espresso, mascarpone, and a hint of Kahlua.

 

  • We filled and later frosted the layers in a luscious whipped Mascarpone frosting using a small offset spatula.This light and flavorful frosting is simple to make and tastes heavenly!

Moist and delicious Tiramisu Layer Cake

 

  • As a final touch we dusted the top with cocoa (tapping it through a small sifter) and added a simple shell border, french tip stars around the top, and a few chocolate chip accents.

 

This moist Tiramisu Layer Cake has so much flavor! Espresso cake layers are brushed with espresso & Kahlua, and filled & frosted in a whipped Mascarpone frosting.

What is Mascarpone Cheese? Can Cream Cheese be substituted?

Mascarpone is an Italian cheese, made by curdling milk cream with citric acid. The end result is a thick, creamy cheese with a high fat content.

It is used in both sweet and savory dishes, and in our case, we sweetened the mascarpone filling & frosting, making it almost impossible not to dive right in (completely delicious). It is the perfect complement to the espresso cake layers. Mmmmm....

The Difference between Cream Cheese and Mascarpone: For this recipe, cream cheese is a completely acceptable option to use as a substitute for the mascarpone in the filling.

Mascarpone is often referred to as Italian Cream Cheese, but it does have a higher fat content, making it creamier and richer than regular cream cheese. Cream cheese also has a bit more tanginess.

Since mascarpone may not always be available at your local grocery store, cream cheese is a common substitution. 

*We have another Italian-inspired cake recipe that contains a mascarpone filling-- our Cannoli Cake! Make sure to check it out too! Cannoli Cake Recipe

 

Inspired by the popular Italian dessert, this Tiramisu Layer Cake is a heavenly combination of espresso, mascarpone, and a hint of Kahlua.

 

more favorite cakes with coffee 

We love all desserts flavored with coffee or espresso! In addition to today's tiramisu cake, make sure to keep these other delicious coffee flavored cakes in mind for the coffee lovers in your life! 

Gingerbread Latte Cake

Caramel Vanilla Latte Cake

Coffee Toffee Ice Cream Cake

Mocha Toffee Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake

Peppermint Mocha Cake

Chocolate Kahlua Cake

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cake

 

Chocolate Version of Tiramisu Layer Cake

If you love chocolate, we have a Chocolate Tiramisu Layer Cake for you too!

Light chocolate cake layers are brushed with espresso and Kahlua, and frosted with whipped chocolate espresso mascarpone frosting. You can find it here!: Chocolate Tiramisu Cake 

 

Chocolate Tiramisu Cake on white pedestal

 

Enjoy the recipe! 

We hope that you enjoy this tiramisu cake! If you give it a try, we would love for you to leave a comment and photo below! 

 

Tiramisu Layer Cake

Inspired by the popular Italian dessert, this Tiramisu Layer Cake is a heavenly combination of espresso, mascarpone, and a hint of Kahlua.

Inspired by the popular Italian dessert, this Tiramisu Layer Cake is a heavenly combination of espresso, mascarpone, and a hint of Kahlua.

Ingredients

For the Espresso Cake Layers

  • 2 Sticks (226 g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature (you can add eggs to very warm water, to bring to room temp)
  • 1 cup (242 g) sour cream (we use full fat)
  • ⅓ cup (81g) milk (we use whole milk)
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 3 cups (342 g) cake flour (plain in the UK) *See substitution below
  • 3 teaspoons (12g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (4g) salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Instant Espresso (6g) (you can substitute instant coffee)

For the Coffee Syrup

  • 1 cup (242g) hot espresso coffee or strong coffee (brewed or instant)
  • 2 Tablespoons Kahlua (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

For the Whipped Mascarpone Filling and Frosting

  • 2 (8 ounce) containers of mascarpone, softened (or the same amount of cream cheese)
  • 2 cups (464g) heavy cream, whipped to stiff peak stage.
  • ¼ cup (58g) heavy cream ( to dissolve the instant espresso)
  • 2 cups (230g) powdered sugar (measure then sift)
  • 1 Tablespoon (9g) vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon (3g) instant espresso granules

Final Touches/Decorative

  • Cocoa powder to tap through sifter over the top of the cake
  • Chocolate Chips (optional) - We used Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips for accents
  • Tip 21 (for bottom border), 8B french tip for stars around the top.

Instructions

For the Espresso Cake Layers

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour three 8 inch x 2 inch round cake pans.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend for 30 seconds. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl or measuring cup, combine the sour cream, milk, instant espresso granules, and vanilla.
  4. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the softened butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until fluffy and lightened in color.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
  6. Add the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 additions of dry ingredients, 2 of wet).
  7. Mix until combined and smooth, do not mix above medium speed or over-mix.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool 5-10 minutes, then turn out.
  9. Makes 7 cups batter. The recipe works well for cupcakes.

For the Coffee Syrup

  1. Mix coffee, Kahlua and powdered sugar and set aside to cool.

For the Whipped Mascarpone Filling and Frosting

  1. First,  Place a bowl and the whisk attachment or beaters if using a hand mixer in the freezer about 10 minutes.  This will help in whipping the heavy cream.
  2. Dissolve the espresso powder in ¼ cup heavy cream.
  3. In the bowl of your mixer, add the softened mascarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla and dissolved espresso powder.  Cover the bowl with a towel  to avoid a cloud of powdered sugar. 
  4. Begin mixing on low speed gradually increasing the speed to medium until the mixture is combined and smooth.  Set this aside while  you whip the heavy cream to stiff peak stage. Stiff peak stage is when you raise the beater, the cream will form a peak standing straight up or the tip will curl over only slightly. Be careful not to over beat.
  5. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.  

Assembly of Cake

  1. Place espresso cake layer on the pedestal or cake base
  2. Brush espresso syrup over the cake layer.
  3. Apply Mascarpone filling (staying about ¼ inch from the edge of the cake layer.
  4. Repeat for the other layers
  5. If settling the cake, wrap the tier in plastic wrap and place a pan or book on top while chilling the cake in the refrigerator for a few hours. Frosting needs to be refrigerated as well.
  6. When ready to decorate, crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of mascarpone frosting and follow with the final coat of frosting.
  7. Dust the top with cocoa (we tapped it through a sifter). Add border and piping around the top to your liking. (We used an 8B star tip for the top, and a tip 21 for the shell border around the base. We also topped each piped star with a Ghirardelli dark chocolate chip (I like these because they are a little larger & flatter than most chocolate chips).

 

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20 Comments

  1. Hi there,
    I wanted to know if this cake should be served the day of assembly? Or can it be assembled the day before serving?
    Thanks

  2. Yes, it can be completed the day before serving and kept refrigerated under a cake cover or in an airtight container. The mascarpone filling and frosting are perishable. Hope you will enjoy the cake. Remove from the refrigerator an hour or so before serving.

  3. I made this cake for my father in-laws birthday. It was a huge hit. I did find I had to make a double batch of the frosting. The cake was amazing. I topped it off with homemade Swiss macarons filled with Tiramisu buttercream

  4. Hi Michele, Your cake is perfectly beautiful! I love the look of your macarons as a decorations. Thanks so much for posting!

  5. I love your site and recipes. Refer to it a lot in my baking! Thank you for all the time you have invested.
    Per a request, I tried to make this recipe for my son's birthday. Love the flavor of this cake, however, my cake turned out very dense. not dry. Just dense. Will need to make again and experiment.....