A few month’s ago, my mother-in-law put together a wonderful dinner party to celebrate the 70th birthday of my father-in-law, David, and I was in charge of bringing dessert. At first, I was excited about my job. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that David is not a dessert kind of guy. He loves fine wines and cheeses and is definitely passionate about coffee. But dark chocolate is as far as he goes when it comes to sweets. Then suddenly a lightbulb turned on: tiramisu. That was it! Tiramisu combines all of David’s most loved foods without being overly sweet.
Because tiramisu looks a little rustic by nature and can even look messy after being scooped, I decided to turn it into a layered cake. I thought that it would be a much better fit for David’s special evening. That is how I came up with this four-layer tiramisu cake which tastes just like the traditional dessert but which is much easier and faster to put together. David and all the dinner party guests loved the cake so much that they already want me to make it again for our next get together!
I didn’t have a lot of time to work on this dessert, so my first strategy was to use a Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® Yellow Cake Mix. Not only was it convenient, but it was also the best color and flavor to replace the ladyfinger cookies which are traditionally used in tiramisu.
I divided the cake batter into two 9-inch round baking pans. Once the cakes were baked and cooled, I used a serrated knife to slice each of them into two layers.
My next step was to prepare a syrup to moisten and flavor the cake layers. I whisked together strong hot coffee, a little bit of confectioners’ sugar and cognac. (The stronger the coffee, the more flavorful your cake will be.)
While the syrup cooled, I made a very easy cheese filling by combining mascarpone cheese, confectioners’ sugar, cognac and vanilla extract in a stand mixer until smooth. It was creamy but still firm enough to keep the cake layers in place.
In a separate bowl, I whipped chilled heavy cream into stiff picks. Finally, I gently folded the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture until it was well combined. You will feel tempted to eat the entire filling with a spoon, but try not to. This is going to get even better!
To assemble the cake, I protected my serving platter with strips of parchment paper and added the first cake layer. I filled a plastic condiment bottle with the coffee syrup and used that to generously moisten each layer of cake.
Next I spread on 1 cup of the filling and repeated the layers until all four layers of cake were used.
Using an icing spatula, I smoothed the remainder of the filling over the top and sides of the cake.
One of the first images that comes to mind when I think of tiramisu is the dusted cocoa powder over the top. So I decided to maintain that tradition.
I also used chocolate-covered coffee beans and chopped dark chocolate to decorate the cake. Those final details not only make this cake look beautiful, they also add a wonderful chocolate flavor and a nice crunch.
The Tiramisu Cake should be refrigerated for at least 3 hours (and up to 8 hours) before serving. This cake is worth the wait!