Tiramisu Cake – vanilla bean cake layers with a coffee and rum soak, creamy mascarpone custard and coffee buttercream.
How to Make Tiramisu
When I think of Tiramisu dessert, I think of New York and Broadway. The first time I went to New York was with my mom when I was 16 years old. I immediately fell in love with the city, especially Broadway. We were able to see a couple shows while in town and after both nights at Broadway, we went out for dessert. One night was Serendipity for Frozen Hot Chocolate and the next was a dessert spot (that I can’t remember the name of), where we had the best dessert – Tiramisu. It was then and there I fell in love and had to learn the recipe!
While I don’t drink coffee, I have always loved coffee flavored ice creams and desserts. Tiramisu was no exception.
Tiramisu is a coffee flavored Italian dessert made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee (sometimes with a rum element to it), layered with a creamy mixture of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese. Best part? It’s a no bake dessert! Aside from cooking the egg yolks and sugar over the stove, you don’t have to actually bake anything.
How to Make the Best Tiramisu Cake
To turn this Italian dessert into a Tiramisu Cake, we’ll be using my Classic Vanilla Cake, with a coffee and rum soak, creamy mascarpone custard and a coffee buttercream.
This vanilla cake has a delicious flavor and texture. It’s slightly more dense than a white cake or yellow cake, which helps to absorb the soak without falling apart.
Once you’ve baked the cake layers, let them cool completely and then trim the tops a bit – just enough that you expose the cake crumb. This will help the soak to seep into the cake really well.
The coffee and rum soak is super simple! It’s coffee and rum extract. That’s it!
There are a ton of options/substitutes for making this soak:
- You don’t have to use rum. Coffee alone will be delicious.
- You don’t have to use rum extract. If you want to use the real deal, go for it.
- You don’t have to use coffee. A great sub to coffee is Pero and is a non-coffee, coffee flavored drink.
TIP: apply the soak TWICE on your cake layers. I only did the soak once and wish I would have done more. Use all of that soak!
What do you need to know about this mascarpone cream custard? It’s HEAVEN! That’s all!
Also, it’s really easy to make! You’ll just cook your raw egg yolks and sugar over a double boiler, add them to the mascarpone and then using your stand mixer fold that entire mixture into the whipped cream you’ve whipped.
This is a great step to make ahead of time.
The Best Buttercream
For the Tiramisu Cake buttercream, we’ll be using a coffee emulsion to obtain our coffee flavor without changing the texture of the buttercream (which can happen by just adding coffee). I like using the Lorann Bakery Emulsions. They make a great coffee flavored emulsion, but you can also use a coffee extract.
How to Assemble the Cake
For assembly, you’ll want the following tools (but of course, can do it with just a knife and plate too):
- Cake boards
- Offset icing spatula
- Straight icing spatula
- Straight scraper
- Acrylic disks
- Piping bag
- Place the first cake layer, top side up, on your cake board or cake stand.
- Pipe a rim of buttercream around the edge of the cake.
- Fill the open area with 1 cup of custard filling and evenly spread.
- Repeat with second layer of cake.
- Apply a thin layer of buttercream around the cake.
- Freeze for 10 minutes
- Apply the remaining buttercream for the final coat of buttercream.
- Sift and dust with cocoa powder on top.
How to Make Tiramisu Cupcakes
To turn this creamy coffee cake into cupcakes:
- Plan for 22-24 cupcakes
- Bake cupcakes for 20 to 23 minutes at 325 F.
- When the cupcakes are cooled, use a knife or spoon to cut a little hole in the center.
- Brush the soak on top of the cupcakes, as well as the cutout area.
- Fill the center with creamy custard.
- Pipe buttercream on top.
Cake Making Tips
Don’t forget to follow my go-to tips for getting your cakes to rise and bake well:
- First preheat your oven for 30 minutes prior to baking.
- Next, beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy.
- Use good quality pans like Fat Daddio.
- Be sure to spray your pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
- Don’t overmix your cake batter once you add the dry ingredients.
- Use room temperature wet ingredients.
- Use fresh baking powder.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.
Bake Ahead Tips
To lighten the work load of this cake, you can make several elements ahead of time.
- Cake layers: bake and then cool the cake layers to room temperature. Once the cake layers are cooled, trim the tops, and then wrap in plastic wrap.
- Soak: combine the ingredients and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. You can also apply the coffee soak onto the cake layers once they are cooled and before you freeze them.
- Creamy Custard: I actually recommend making the custard ahead of time. At minimum, make the custard filling a day before you want to assemble the cake. At most, you can make it up to a week in advance. Store in an air-tight container and refrigerate.