I am always looking for a good special occasion cake. This year for Christmas Eve, my sister made her famous Chicken Parmesan (seriously, hers are the BEST chicken cutlets I’ve ever had) and in keeping with the italian theme my friend and I decided to try our hat at the Tiramisu Cake we’ve both been drooling over at Smitten Kitchen.
Because we are at high altitude, I did a trial run about a week before and was surprised at the results. The cake came out of the oven golden and spongy, the frosting tasted amazing, it looked impressive and yet when it was all put together it was frankly a little dry and the frosting was oddly sticky.
So for round two, I doubled the espresso syrup used to soak the cake and soaked both sides of both layers. And the frosting needed some help. It tasted HEAVENLY but was runny once the espresso was added and when it sat overnight it was sticky. Sorry that I keep saying that word but I can’t think of any other way to describe it. Frosting the outside of the cake was difficult (since it was so runny) and I really wanted it to be fluffy. For the second batch, I doubled the frosting frosted it once in the night and set aside the remaining frosting covered and refrigerated everything overnight. Then mid-day the following day, I whipped 4 egg whites and folded them into the remaining frosting and added another layer. It did the trick!
So here is my recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan via Smitten Kitchen:
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
For the cake layers:
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the espresso extract:
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
3 tablespoons boiling water
For the espresso syrup:
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoon Kahlua
For the filling and frosting:
2 8-ounce container mascarpone
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoon Kahlua
2 cups cold heavy cream
1/2 bag of dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli) finely chopped
4 egg whites
Cocoa powder, for dusting
To make the cakes:
+ Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
+ Butter two 9×2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Set aside.
+ Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
+ Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.
+ Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes.
+ Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
+ Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. (mine did not)
+ Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
+ Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them, and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
To make the extract:
+ Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.
To make the syrup:
+ Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and Kahlua; set aside.
To make the filling and frosting:
+ Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth.
+ Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.
To assemble the cake:
+ If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Place one layer right side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer – user about 1 1/4 cups – and gently press the chopped chocolate into the filling. Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining espresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.
+ For the frosting, whisk 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the frosting and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. Refrigerate the cake as well. Reserve approximately half of the frosting. With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the remaining frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top.
+ Cover loosely with saran wrap and refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or up to 1 day). Before serving, whip the 4 egg whites into firm peaks and fold into remaining frosting. Using a long metal icing spatula, smooth the remaining frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
+ Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa
This cake was such a huge hit that there were only scraps left by the end of the dinner (there were 13 of us). This one is going into my favorites pile for future celebrations. I’m also 100% obsessed with marscapone frosting now… so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of it in the near future.