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Luscious and sophisticated, this tiramisu cake is made with a fluffy genoise vanilla sponge cake that’s soaked in espresso. It’s all finished with mascarpone cream, then dusted with cocoa powder. What more could you want?
Why You’ll Love This Tiramisu Cake
- Flavorful. This cake has just the right amount of sweetness in the filling. The sponge cake is moist and fluffy, and the coffee isn’t overpowering. It has a beautiful balance of textures and flavors.
- Easy to decorate. This cake is frosted in the fashion of a “naked cake,” similar to my Blue Velvet Cake. The layers of cake are intentionally visible beneath a thin layer of mascarpone frosting, then you just pipe some frosting on top and dust with cocoa powder.
- Fluffy and moist. The secret to this cake lies in the genoise sponge cake. It’s enriched with butter and has no leavening agents. The “sponge” comes from a mixture of eggs and sugar that has been warmed over a water-bath and beaten until foamy. This mix provides enough airiness to make the cake rise during baking.
- To die for frosting. The mascarpone whipped cream is extremely light, just like the one found in traditional tiramisu.
Here’s a fun reel showing what the texture of this cake looks like:
You’ll only need 12 ingredients to make this cake. I’m sure you have most of them already at home. Here’s a quick look at what you’ll need along with my notes. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for ingredient amounts.
For the Genoise Sponge Cake
- Flour – Use all-purpose flour.
- Cornstarch – This helps create a fluffy, tender cake texture.
- Sugar – Regular white granulated sugar.
- Butter – I always go for unsalted butter. It’s the only way to make sure the cake doesn’t turn out salty.
- Vanilla extract – I recommend 100% pure vanilla extract.
- Kosher Salt
For the Mascarpone Whipped Cream
- Mascarpone – Make sure it’s full-fat. Low-fat mascarpone tends to split and separate during beating.
- Whipping cream – Make sure it has at least 35% fat, otherwise you won’t get stiff peaks. Without enough fat, the cream won’t rise.
- Confectioners’ sugar – Also called powdered sugar. Don’t sub a different kind of sugar here.
You’ll Also Need
- Espresso or Coffee – You can use an espresso machine if you have one, or strong coffee.
- Cocoa powder – Try to get a hold of Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder. This is different from regular kinds because it’s been alkalized, becoming darker in color and with a mellowed astringency. If you can’t get a hold of it, regular unsweetened cocoa like Hershey’s will work.
How to Make Tiramisu Cake
Here is an overview of how to make this recipe. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for more details.
- Prep your tools. Preheat the oven and prepare the pans.
- Prepare egg mixture. I have a video in my crinkle cookies post showing you how to make a double boiler. It’s super easy! Don’t stop whisking or your eggs will scramble. Once the mixture heats up, remove it from the heat.
- Beat the egg mixture. Beat on medium-high speed for about 10 minutes, or until it reaches the ribbon-stage. This happens when egg and sugar are beaten together and the mixture becomes very airy (doubling or tripling in volume), turns pale yellow, and has thickened into a frothy mixture.
- To check if it’s ready, scoop some of the mixture and let it fall back into itself. You should be able to make ribbons with it that take at least a couple of seconds to sink into the mixture again.
- Add butter and vanilla. Gently mix in.
- Add the dry ingredients. Sift half of the dry ingredients into the egg mixture at a time. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold them in until just combined. Don’t over-mix or the egg mixture will deflate.
- Divide the batter. Carefully pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Spread the batter out evenly.
- Bake. Place them in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let them cool for 15-20 minutes before unmolding them and letting them cool completely.
- Make the mascarpone cream. Combine the cold whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar in a stainless steel bowl. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the mascarpone and continue beating until it’s well incorporated into the mixture and the whipped cream forms stiff peaks. Transfer the mascarpone cream into a piping bag.
- Assemble the cake. Use a pastry brush to spread the coffee over the bottom layer of the cake. Add about 1 cup of mascarpone cream and spread it out evenly. Repeat this step for every layer.
- Frost the cake. Apply a thin layer of mascarpone cream to the sides . Use a large bench-scraper or offset spatula to spread it around and remove any excess cream. It should be like a naked-style cake, with most of the cream being in between the cake, not around the sides. Decorate the top of the cake with more mascarpone cream.
- Refrigerate. Pop the cake into the fridge for at least 1 hour so that the cake and cream firm up.
- Serve. Dust with cocoa powder and serve. Enjoy!
Tips for Success
- Chill the whipping cream and mascarpone. Don’t take these out of the fridge until the very minute you’re going to use them. No matter how long you beat the cream, it will never form any kind of peaks unless it’s perfectly chilled. Additionally, if the mascarpone isn’t cold, it will split and you won’t get a lovely, smooth whipped cream.
- Use a non-reactive bowl. Glass and stainless steel bowls should be your go-to for whipping cream because they are non-reactive. Other kinds of bowls, especially those made of plastic and copper, can cause an undesirable chemical reaction with the mixture’s ingredients to the point where your cream will never rise.
- Freeze the bowl. To help you maintain the whipping cream and mascarpone cold for longer, throw the bowl into the freezer when you start preparing your cake. By the time you’re ready to use it, it should be nice and cold. This will also make the whipping process faster.
- Add some booze. Classic tiramisu has alcohol in it, which I did not include in the recipe as written in order to make the cake more accessible. However, if you want you can add Grand Marnier, dark rum, brandy, or marsala wine to this tiramisu cake. Mix 1-3 tablespoons of your preferred alcohol with the coffee and then use the mixture to coat the genoise sponge cake.
- Make it kid friendly. You can substitute the coffee in the recipe for chilled hot cocoa. You can also use decaf coffee.
How to Store
- Fridge. Tiramisu cake can’t be stored at room temperature because the mascarpone cream isn’t shelf-stable. Whether you want to store it whole or in slices, you’ll need to refrigerate it. I recommend using an airtight container to avoid the transfer of odors from other foods. It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days in tip-top shape. After the third day, the cake will have absorbed more moisture from the coffee and mascarpone cream, making it lose texture and structure.
- Can I freeze it? Unfortunately, no part of this cake freezes well (except the coffee).
More Cake Recipes
Genoise Sponge Cake:
- 5 eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup strong coffee, or espresso, with 2 teaspoons of sugar
Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
- 16 oz Mascarpone
- 1 ½ cups whipping cream, with at least 35% fat
- ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
- Cocoa powder for decoration
- Preheat the oven and prepare the pans. Preheat the oven to 325 ̊F and line three 7-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Prepare the egg mixture. Place eggs, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and slightly beat with a whisk. Place the bowl over a pan with hot water to make a double boiler. Continuing whisking, warm the mixture. The egg mixture should be slightly warm, but make sure it’s not hot. Remove the bowl from the double boiler. (Careful, it will be hot.)
- Beat the egg mixture. Using a mixer, beat the eggs for about 10 minutes until the ribbon stage. Add melted butter and vanilla extract to the egg mixture, carefully mix.
- Add the dry ingredients. Combine the flour with cornstarch, and sift it into the egg mixture half at a time. Gently mix with a rubber spatula.
- Divide the batter and bake. Pour the batter into 3 prepared pans. Bake the cakes for about 35-40 minutes until the toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and let it cool for 10 minutes before taking it out of the pans.
- Make the mascarpone cream. It’s important to use cold whipping cream and mascarpone to make the frosting. Add the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar to a large bowl and whip on high speed until light and fluffy. Add mascarpone to the whipped cream and whip until just combined, be sure not to over-beat. Transfer frosting into a piping bag.
- Brush the cake with coffee and assemble. Using a pastry brush, spread the espresso all over the first sponge cake. Pipe a large amount of frosting over the first layer cake. Top with the second cake and brush it with coffee. Repeat with the second layer of frosting. Place the last sponge cake over it, and brush it once again.
- Decorate the cake. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the sides. Using the bench scraper, smooth and remove excess frosting. Transfer the remaining mascarpone whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a tip and decorate the top of the cake. Refrigerate it for at least 1 hour to firm up. Dust with cocoa powder.
- Cool the cake layers for more than ten minutes to avoid them crumbling when you remove them from the pans.
- Feel free to use decaf if you don’t want to add espresso.