All the familiar flavors of your favorite tiramisu are wrapped up in this layered cake that you can slice into thick wedges—talk about having your cake and eating it too! Layers of soft, coffee-flavored cake encase a thick, luxurious marsala-spiked mascarpone filling. A fine dusting of cocoa powder between each layer adds depth and sophistication to each bite.
Where regular tiramisu has lady fingers dipped in coffee, this tiramisu cake infuses the beverage right into the cake, so each bite is balanced and flavorful. The rich filling is mildly tangy from the mascarpone and fragrant with Marsala. The cocoa powder provides a tiny hint of bitterness and when combined with the lightly sweetened cream and fluffy cake, it tastes like a sliver of fine dark chocolate.
This is a great make-ahead cake and it is, in fact, better when assembled ahead of time, the perfect dessert for your next gathering.
A Baker’s Tips and Tricks
Baking can seem stressful sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be! Learning just a few simple rules can make all the difference in your baking journey.
- The neatest way to line a cake pan with parchment paper is to trace a circle (use the cake pan as a guide) on a sheet of parchment paper. Carefully cut out the circle with a pair of scissors and press it into the base of the pan.
- The eggs will whip faster if they’re at room temperature rather than straight out of the fridge. If you forgot to pull the eggs out in time (we’ve all been there!) simply place them in a small bowl of hot tap water for 10 minutes to knock the chill off.
- Unlike the eggs, the heavy cream and mascarpone whip up best when cold.
- An offset spatula is an invaluable tool in almost any baking project. The offset shape makes it easy to smooth and level the filling.
- Any small fine-mesh sieve or sifter is suitable for dusting the cocoa powder over the filling and top, but I like a tea ball with a handle for more precise control.
How to Assemble and Decorate Tiramisu Cake
This is a two-layer cake with a whipped mascarpone for filling and decorating. If, like me, you’ve always struggled with making evenly stacked layer cakes, the technique in this recipe is for you!
- Line a round cake pan with plastic wrap. This makes it easy to remove the cake from the pan once it’s assembled.
- Layer and stack the baked cake inside the cake pan to ensure straight edges without the risk of any filling coming out the sides or the cake layers slipping and sliding over the creamy filling.
- Once assembled, the cake is chilled to help it set.
- Flip the chilled cake over a serving plate and peel off the plastic wrap.
- Spread a thin layer of the filling on the sides of the cake (it won’t be fully covered) and swirl some on top for decoration.
Ingredient Swaps That Work or Don’t
While it’s easy to riff when you’re cooking, baking follows a slightly different set of rules. Each recipe is carefully designed to work with a set of ingredients. Staying as close to the recipe as possible often gives you the very best results.
- The mascarpone is essential for that quintessential tiramisu flavor reminiscent of your favorite Italian restaurant. Don’t skip or substitute with any other dairy product.
- Make sure that the vanilla pudding in the filling is the instant variety and not the kind that needs to be cooked on the stovetop (often called Cook & Serve). Instant pudding contains a modified starch that thickens liquid without the need for any heat and is the key to a stable, fluffy filling that stands up well to stacking.
- Cake flour makes a fine-grained cake with a tender and spongy crumb. Substituting with another flour such as all-purpose will make the cake coarse and dry.
- If you’d like to skip the alcohol in this recipe, simply use more brewed black coffee instead of Marsala.
What to Sip With Your Tiramisu Cake
A cup of hot coffee or freshly poured espresso is a natural accompaniment to a slice of this creamy tiramisu cake. If you’re serving the cake post-dinner, consider pairing it with dainty glasses of fortified wine such as vin santo, sherry, or port. A small pile of fresh raspberries alongside each slice of cake is a welcome complement to all the richness.
Make the cake layers up to 24 hours ahead. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature. The filling and soak can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store both in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
The cake can be assembled (minus the top layer of cream and dusting of cocoa powder) up to 24 hours ahead. Keep it covered and refrigerated in the cake pan.
Store slices of leftover cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Treats for Coffee Lovers
For the cake:
Nonstick cooking spray or very soft butter, for the pan
1 1/4 cups (145g) cake flour (such as Swans Down)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (118g) neutral oil, such as canola
1/2 cup (112g) brewed black coffee, cooled
For the filling:
2 cups (454g) heavy cream
16 ounces (454g) mascarpone
1 (3.5-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix (not Cook & Serve)
1/4 cup (56g) Marsala wine
1/4 cup (30g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
To assemble the cake:
1/4 cup (56g) brewed black coffee, cooled
2 tablespoons Marsala wine
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- Stand mixer
Preheat the oven:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350°F. Line the bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Lightly spray the sides of each pan with nonstick cooking spray or use your hands to grease them with a thin coat of softened butter.
Combine the dry ingredients:
In a small bowl, whisk together the cake flour and baking powder. Set it aside.
Whip the eggs and sugar:
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs on medium-high speed until foamy, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the sugar in 4 batches, whisking for 2 minutes between each addition. The eggs will look pale, fluffy, and form a thick ribbon when the whisk is lifted from the bowl.
Add the salt and vanilla. Mix until well combined, about 1 minute.
Add the oil and coffee:
Maintaining medium-high speed, slowly add in the oil in a thin, steady stream. Whisk until fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Stream in the 1/2 cup coffee and continue to whisk for an additional minute, until well combined.
Add the flour mixture:
Add the flour mixture all at once; mix on low speed until just combined with no visible large pockets of dry flour, about 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Gently fold the batter a few times to ensure it is evenly combined.
Bake the cakes:
Split the batter between the 2 prepared cake pans. Bake until the cakes are light golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes before inverting them onto a wire rack to cool fully. Peel away parchment paper.
Make the whipped mascarpone filling:
When ready to assemble the cake, in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, mascarpone, instant vanilla pudding mix, Marsala, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until mixture is thick and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
Measure out 2 1/2 cups of the whipped mascarpone filling. Transfer it into an airtight container and chill until ready to assemble the cake. This will be used for the top and sides of the cake. The remaining filling will be used to layer the cake.
Make coffee-Marsala soak:
In a small bowl, stir together the 1/4 cup coffee, Marsala, and powdered sugar.
Assemble the cake:
Line an 8-inch round cake pan with plastic wrap leaving a 2-inch overhang all around. The cake will be assembled inside the cake pan and the plastic wrap will make it easy to remove it.
Place 1 fully cooled cake into the pan. Use a pastry brush to evenly brush half of the coffee-Marsala soak over the cake. Use a fine-mesh sieve or sifter to sift a thick layer of cocoa powder (about 2 teaspoons) on top.
Spoon the filling (not the 2 1/2 cups you set aside in the fridge) into the pan. Level the surface with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Sift 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder over the filling.
Place the second cake over the filling, pressing down lightly to ensure there are no large air bubbles between the two layers of cake. Brush the remaining coffee-Marsala mixture over the cake.
Chill the cake:
Pull up the plastic wrap to enclose the cake. It’s okay if the cake isn’t fully covered. Chill the cake in the fridge to allow the filling to set, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Finish decorating the cake and serve:
When ready to serve, place a large plate upside down on top of the cake pan and carefully flip it. Lift the cake pan off and peel away the plastic wrap.
Stir the reserved 2 cups whipped mascarpone filling. Use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread a thin layer of the filling (about 1/2 cup) around the sides of the cake. The sides will still be quite “naked” and not fully covered.
Pile the remaining filling on top of the cake. Create swoops and swirls using the back of a spoon.
Dust the top with the remaining 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder.
For clean and neat slices, always slice the cake when it is still cold. After every cut, wipe any cake residue from the knife with a damp kitchen towel so it doesn’t drag and smear on each slice.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 10|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 51g||66%|
|Saturated Fat 25g||124%|
|Total Carbohydrate 49g||18%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||2%|
|Total Sugars 36g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|