Tiramisu Cake with Mascarpone Custard and Coffee Buttercream

January 11, 2021

Tiramisu Cake with Mascarpone Custard and Coffee Buttercream- vanilla bean cake layers with a coffee and rum soak, creamy mascarpone custard and coffee buttercream.

Tiramisu Cake - vanilla bean cake layers with a coffee and rum soak, mascarpone custard and coffee buttercream. #cakebycourtney #tiramisu #tiramisucake #tiramisucakerecipe #tiramisurecipe #cakerecipe #howtomakeatiramisu #coffeebuttercream #buttercreamrecipe #cakerecipe #layeredcake #coffeecake #custardrecipe

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 of 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.

 Tiramisu Cake - vanilla bean cake layers with a coffee and rum soak, mascarpone custard and coffee buttercream. #cakebycourtney #tiramisu #tiramisucake #tiramisucakerecipe #tiramisurecipe #cakerecipe #howtomakeatiramisu #coffeebuttercream #buttercreamrecipe #cakerecipe #layeredcake #coffeecake #custardrecipe

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 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.

Tiramisu Cake - vanilla bean cake layers with a coffee and rum soak, mascarpone custard and coffee buttercream. #cakebycourtney #tiramisu #tiramisucake #tiramisucakerecipe #tiramisurecipe #cakerecipe #howtomakeatiramisu #coffeebuttercream #buttercreamrecipe #cakerecipe #layeredcake #coffeecake #custardrecipe

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. (or, you can add a bit of coffee liquor instead of rum, too!)
  • 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 for coffee is Pero which is a non-coffee, coffee-flavored drink. There are also plenty of coffee syrups to choose from, too.
Tiramisu Cake - vanilla bean cake layers with a coffee and rum soak, mascarpone custard and coffee buttercream. #cakebycourtney #tiramisu #tiramisucake #tiramisucakerecipe #tiramisurecipe #cakerecipe #howtomakeatiramisu #coffeebuttercream #buttercreamrecipe #cakerecipe #layeredcake #coffeecake #custardrecipe

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!

Creamy Custard

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 in a large bowl, and then using your stand mixer fold that entire mixture into the whipped cream you’ve whipped. Ta da! Mascarpone frosting.

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.

Tiramisu Cake - vanilla bean cake layers with a coffee and rum soak, mascarpone custard and coffee buttercream. #cakebycourtney #tiramisu #tiramisucake #tiramisucakerecipe #tiramisurecipe #cakerecipe #howtomakeatiramisu #coffeebuttercream #buttercreamrecipe #cakerecipe #layeredcake #coffeecake #custardrecipe

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):

For assembly:

  • 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.
Tiramisu Cake - vanilla bean cake layers with a coffee and rum soak, mascarpone custard and coffee buttercream. #cakebycourtney #tiramisu #tiramisucake #tiramisucakerecipe #tiramisurecipe #cakerecipe #howtomakeatiramisu #coffeebuttercream #buttercreamrecipe #cakerecipe #layeredcake #coffeecake #custardrecipe

Bake Ahead Tips

To lighten the workload 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 them in plastic wrap.
  • Soak: combine the ingredients and store them 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 a 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.

More Recipes Like This

Tiramisu Cake - vanilla bean cake layers with a coffee and rum soak, mascarpone custard and coffee buttercream. #cakebycourtney #tiramisu #tiramisucake #tiramisucakerecipe #tiramisurecipe #cakerecipe #howtomakeatiramisu #coffeebuttercream #buttercreamrecipe #cakerecipe #layeredcake #coffeecake #custardrecipe

Tiramisu Cake

4.88 from 25 votes
Tender and flavorful vanilla bean cake layers with a coffee, rum soak, mascarpone custard and coffee buttercream.
Servings 20 people



  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg whites room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. (13 g) vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream room temperature
  • 3 cups (345 g) cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. (10 g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp. (5 g) salt
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk room temperature


  • ½ cup (4 oz.) coffee See above notes in post about substitutes
  • 1/2-1 tsp (4 g) rum extract See above notes in post about alternatives – how much rum flavoring or actual rum you add can be based on your personal taste


  • 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter slighly cold
  • 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
  • 5 tsp. (20 g) coffee emulsion I use THIS brand
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) heavy cream cold
  • pinch of salt
  • *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra ½ batch.


  • 1 cup (231 g) heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup (66.7 g) granulated sugar
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp (4.2 g) vanilla extract



  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and then line with parchment. Spray again. Set aside.
  • In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg whites on medium speed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between addition.
  • Add the vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture, followed by ½ cup of the buttermilk. Repeat the additions, ⅓ cup flour mixture, ½ cup buttermilk and the final ⅓ cup flour mixture. Only mix until the flour mixture is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again for another 20 to 30 seconds on low. Fold in the sour cream.
  • Pour about 16 ounces of cake batter into each of the three 8-inch cake pans or 12 ounces in each of the 6-inch pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. Let cool in the pans for about 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Tip: spray your wire cooling racks with nonstick spray).


  • Combine the coffee and rum extract and stir.


  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy and pale in color.
  • With the mixer on slow, gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the heavy cream, coffee emulsion, and pinch of salt.
  • Once all of the ingredients are combined, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a couple minutes more.
  • Before using the buttercream, make sure to beat it by hand with a wooden spoon or large spatula to help push out the air pockets.


  • In a stainless steal bowl (preferrably chilled in thre freezer for 10 minutes), beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  • In a double boiler, with about an inch of water in the bottom pot, combine the sugar and egg yolks. Stir constantly while the water boils underneath, until the mixture is light yellow in color, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Once the egg mixture is cooked, add it to the mascarpone cheese in a mixing bowl, and beat together until combined. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.
  • Fold the mascarpone mixture into the whipped cream. Cover and chilled until ready to use.


  • Trim the tops of the cake layers slightly, so the crumb is exposed and can soak up the coffee soak.
  • With a pastry brush, cover the cake layers with the coffee soak. I recommend going over each layer twice with the soak.
  • After you've done the soak, place the first cake layer top side up, in the center of the cake board. Pipe a rim of buttercream around the edge of the cake to create a barrier for the custard.
  • Spread about 1 cup of the custard across the cake layer.
  • Place the second cake layer on top of the buttercream and repeat the two previous steps.
  • Place the final cake layer top side down on the filling.
  • Apply a thin layer of buttercream around the entire cake. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes. This is your crumb coat.
  • Once the crumb coat is set, continue frosting the cake with the remaining buttercream.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Keyword: Cake recipe, Coffee cake, Tiramisu Cake,

Join the Conversation

  1. jessica niznik says:

    YUMM! This is my absolute favorite dessert! I will def try this out!

  2. I’m can’t wait to make this cake! I grew up outside New York, have plenty of Italian friends and I’ve always loved tiramisu! One question: normally you mention freezing the cake before the crumb coat. With the soak, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to freeze it longer than necessary. How much time will this cake spend in the freezer? Thanks!

  3. ANITA lONGORIA says:

    Hi there, I was looking over your yummy tiramisu cake recipe because I am thinking to test it for a wedding cake.
    I have two questions:
    1. have you tried this recipe for the couple’s wedding cake? If yes can you please share your experience
    2. Is there is an error in your Custard recipe? In the heavy cream portion 1 cup = 238grams not 131g. Do you mean 131grms( 1/2 cup), or 238g (1cup) ?

    Thank you

    1. It’s brand new so I haven’t done it for a wedding! And yes its fixed. Should be 231g.

  4. I have started this recipe and I’m honestly so excited about it! My layers came out a bit thin for the three 8” pans, only about an inch tall. Triple checked that I didn’t mess up. I’m wondering if this is the intended height? They smell delicious!!

  5. 5 stars
    I made this cake and it was sooo delicious! The custard filling is, well…magical.
    I did swap the buttercream for a coffee smbc but everything else I followed the exact recipe. I did a little happy dance when I tried it, it’s that good! I can’t stop thinking about it and can’t wait to make it again!

    1. This makes me so happy! Thank you!

  6. GabbY puGliese says:

    Hi Courtney,

    Do you have a version of this recipe for a sheet cake?


    1. No I don’t. But I have an IGTV on making my cakes into sheet cakes on my instagram.

  7. Is there a typo for the instructions on the custard? Should it say cooked or cooled?? The consistency of the custard didn’t seem right first time around. Thanks!

  8. I’m confused. I’ve already used near twice as much emulsion in the buttercream as called for and it’s not even a third as darkly colored as yours. It’s maybe a hair darker than the custard… did you add cocoa? I’m using the exact same coffee emulsion as you, Costco butter, a mix of c&h and Kroger brand powdered sugar. What did I miss?

    1. I didn’t add cocoa, and the coffee emulsion was brown. Buttercream will darken a little as it sits out and rests, so maybe mine just had more time out than yours did.

      1. 4 stars
        The cake flavour is amazing but I have to agree that the colour of the buttercream doesn’t turn out even similar to the pictures…did you add any food colouring? Really like that colour but mine is far from that.
        Thank you for sharing all your lovely recipes. They never fail 🙂

        1. I might have! I’ll update the recipe to include food coloring option!

  9. Meghan Gordon says:

    I just finished making the buttercream with all the ingredients (including emulsion) and mine is a lot lighter (cream) in color. Did you by chance add some cocoa powder to your buttercream as well? All the components taste great, excited to put it all together.

  10. 4 stars
    Loved this recipe! Flavors were amazing, but my only issue is that the custard recipe makes probably double what I actually ended up needing. When I put a full cup of the custard on the layers as instructed (I did the 8″ layers), it was too much and would have spilled out of the sides, even with a buttercream edge. I ended up with a LOT of leftover custard, which I wouldn’t mind if mascarpone wasn’t so expensive! 🙂 I will definitely make this again, but I will probably cut the custard recipe in half.

  11. Sheeda Sumayya says:

    5 stars
    Hi, what’s the substitute for sour cream? Can I use full fat yogurt instead of sour cream?

    1. Yes, I would use 3/4 yogurt and add 1/4 milk to it, since the yogurt is a little denser than the sour cream.

  12. I’d love to use this recipe for my friends bday cake but she is gluten free. Do you have a suggestion for a recipe for the cake that is gluten free?

    1. You can make any of my cakes gluten free! Just sub your favorite GF flour (mine is cup4cup)!

  13. 3 stars
    I’m struggling with the custard process, possibly just my inexperience making a sabayon. As soon as I start adding gentle heat (not boiling and metal bowl over steam only) the mixture starts to become grainy and rapidly becomes dry and gritty. I have tried a few times with less heat each time and it still happens. It just doesn’t look anywhere near the volume or as thin as what it is in your bowl. Can I add a liquid to help with the process? Im nervous the yolk won’t be cooked enough otherwise.

    1. I’m a little stumped! are you stirring constantly and fast and long enough? It does take about 8-10 minutes.

      1. I am having this same issue. Using s stainless steel bowl for the double boiler. Should I be using a glass bowl?

        1. Yes try a glass bowl.

  14. Yaelan Choo says:

    I am planning on making this recipe in the next couple of days and was wondering if you could share the food color option for the buttercream that you had mentioned in previous comments as I did not see it updated in the recipe. Thank you so much.

  15. Why can’t I make the buttercream ahead of time? How long does the cake last well for?

    1. You totally can. Sorry that I left that out of the make ahead tips… but you can make it ahead of time and keep it covered and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it. Just make sure to let it come back to room temp and rebeat it to get it back to a fluffy texture again.

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