tiramisu cake

Last Saturday was my darling Jocelyn’s birthday and you just know I wasn’t going to even think about showing up without birthday cake. Fortunately, just about everyone we know agrees that two of the best desserts on earth are cannolis from Venieros on First Avenue and homemade tiramisu. I was actually kind of obsessed with figuring out a way to make a cannoli cake, but in the end copped out, not feeling daring enough to invent a recipe and having waited until the very last minute (3 p.m.) to actually start baking.

Not for the first or last time, Dorie Greenspan came to the rescue. As if Baking: From My Home to Yours wasn’t awesome enough, it actually includes two cake sections, one devoted solely to “Celebration Cakes,” or the exact type you’d want to bring to a birthday party. But all are so much more exciting than just yellow cake and butter cream frosting, such as Black and White Chocolate Cake, Big Carrot Cake, Perfect Party Cake and Tiramisu Cake. I stopped right there, and started this:

tiramisu caketiramisu caketiramisu caketiramisu cake

Which ended up like this:

tiramisu caketiramisu cake

And was received like this:

tiramisu caketiramisu caketiramisu caketiramisu cake

I’m very particular about tiramisu, by the way. It’s one of my favorite desserts yet most times I order it, I find it disappointing. Typically, I don’t think there is enough of a recognizable coffee flavor to it. I think it tastes best with marsala or brandy, not Kahlua. Often the tiny cakes are not soaked enough. I think that the chocolate layers should be a bed of almost crinkly shaven very bitter chocolate. This cake, however, knew I was coming and made everything just right. And the guest of honor? It looks like she concurred. I couldn’t be more proud.

 jocelyn versus tiramisu cake

[Photo by our friend Lexxie.]

Tiramisu Cake
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the cake layers:
2 cups (255 grams) cake flour
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons or 140 grams)) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 ml) pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk

For the espresso extract:
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons (30 ml) boiling water

For the espresso syrup:
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1/3 cup (65 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy (Deb note: I used brandy)

For the filling and frosting:
1 8-ounce (225 grams) container mascarpone
1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (15 ml) amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy (Deb note: I used brandy)
1 cup (235 ml) cold heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces (70 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Chocolate-covered espresso beans, for decoration (optional)
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Getting ready:
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. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake:
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. 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 the liqueur or brandy; 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 1 to 1 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. If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.

With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. If you want to decorate the cake with chocolate-covered espresso beans, press them into the filling, making concentric circles of beans or just putting some beans in the center of the cake.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or for up to 1 day) before serving – the elements need time to meld.

Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa. I cut a star shape out of waxed paper and placed it lightly over the cake, and shaved a layer of chocolate over it with a microplane, before carefully removing the star to leave a stenciled shape.

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288 comments on tiramisu cake

  1. Your recipe looks interesting. I must admit that best recipe I ever read for Tiramisu was at CookingforEngineers! I have to try your to be able to compare two recipes. Looking forward to that because I adore Tiramisu!

  2. I made a tiramisu cake for Quinn’s birthday last year, and it was definitely a hit. I had a few technical difficulties with it. I don’t think my icing was thick enough. I should try this recipe. It seems a bit different than the one I tried.

  3. This looks like a wonderful cake, and you made it look absolutely beautiful. I love Tiramisu, but I hate it when the savoiardi are mushy! Cake layers would be perfect.

    I have a really nice recipe for a cannoli cake if you ever decide to make one. I used this at my wedding. My cousin used to work at Sal & Dom’s on Allerton Ave in the Bronx and learned a lot of tricks there.

  4. I made the same cake a few months ago, and think it’s a wonderful recipe! I always use Kahlua though. Prefer it for its coffee flavor. Maybe I should try making Tiramisu with Marsala or Brandy next time.

  5. Kelly

    It looks wonderful and I’m printing it out to make soon. Sorry for the novice questions but where can I find espresso powder? Is it just ground espresso beans? And, where can I find Marscapone cheese? At the cheese counter? In with the dairy? Finally, I’m always confused when I’m told to make the butter creamy…is this at a very high speed? Medium speed? Does the speed matter? Thanks.

  6. deb

    Don’t apologize for asking questions. :) I found espresso powder (brand called Ferrari, I think) at our grocery store, I think it’s pretty common but I can only speak for what’s around us. Marscapone is sometimes at the cheese counter, sometimes in the dairy section (tub like sour cream or cream cheese) depending on the store. If the butter is at room temperature, making it creamy should be easy at medium or high speed. The idea is to get it very, very soft so the other ingredients will easily mix in. Good luck!

  7. carla

    your comment about cannoli cake reminds me of a story…i had cannoli cake for every birthday until i was about 9, when i finally had the wherewithal to say, “mom, how come you order YOUR favorite cake for all of my birthdays?”. after that, i got to pick, and i usually went for a superamerican yellow cake with strawberry filling and whipped cream. but these days, living so far from the itailan neighborhood i grew up in? i would KILL for cannoli cake.

  8. dan

    where do you find instant espresso powder? i’ve a few recipes that call for it, but have never seen it in any grocery stores or even specialty stores.

  9. Oh wow. I’ve got a tiramisu cake recipe, but with lady fingers that ring the thing, not something from scratch like this. I’m for sure going to make this the next time I need a birthday cake. Keep up the good work.

  10. lana

    I just had amazing tiramisu from a place nearby and I was thinking about how hard it is to find good tiramisu and that I really need to learn to make it. And now you go and post this. I think I will have to make this cake as my own birthday present in a couple weeks.

  11. I am the same way…when I order tiramisu out at a restaurant, I am almost always disappointed.
    I’ve had this Dorie recipe earmarked for some time. Yours looks very tempting!

  12. Deb – I know this is off-topic, but please please please consider making a Smitten Kitchen calendar. I would so totally buy one or two or a few. Of course, it would have to include your amazing poached-egg-yolk photo or the whole deal is off.

    Would you consider it? In all your free time and all?

  13. Jenny

    I’m starting to think about holiday cookie baking. Although I have a standard list of cookies(chewy oatmeal cherry, almond and apricot rugelach, spicy molasses) that I make every year, I’m always on the hunt for my next new addition. Wondering if you have a standard list—and/or any new recipes you’re trying this holiday.

  14. deb

    Jenifer from Houston — Actually, I’ll be sunbathing on a beach. Poor me, eh?

    StickyGooeyCreamyChewy — I know this is terribly *wrong* but I love it when the little cakes are mushy. Ugh, I know. Anyway, these cake layers are not at all–perfect solution for everyone but me. I would love, love, love to take a peek at your cannoli cake recipe. Have you blogged it?

    dan — We found it at Whole Foods or a store like that a while ago, but if you can’t find it at a grocery store, I’d try an Italian specialty store. I can’t imagine they wouldn’t have it.

    Tartelette — Great minds! And love that you made the cranberry/caramel tart too.

    mary — I joked to Alex that I am the only person on earth who could find a tiramisu recipe that required more work than actual tiramisu, what with the baking the cake layers from scratch and a frosting that is slightly different from the filling. I might actually try using lady fingers next time, just to see how it compares.

    Jessica — It’s not much of one, but I’ll get to it. It’s part of a Thanksgiving post-mortem entry I deemed too boring to post. Also, our heat wasn’t working on Friday night and I was cranky, thus not able to write anything fun. Hence, the new NaBloPoMo tag (top left) with the “almost” above it. And to think you just asked about pie crust!

    Leah, Shelly — Thanks for the encouragement. Alex and I looked into it this morning, and I just don’t think it will be feasible for a few reasons. One, I read a lot of complaints that the printing quality at has gone down significantly this year, and that’s the easiest place to get this done. Two, to use Lulu’s basic shipping and get the calendar by Xmas, one would have to order it by Dec. 12, which is awfully soon! Third, and this is really my biggest concern, although our pictures often look good enough on the Web, because we don’t shoot in RAW, I’m terrifically nervous about their print quality. I hope to start using RAW in the new year, which will allow us to create prints, calendars and what-nots a lot more professional quality.

    Jenny — We must be on the same page, as I am too. I created some thumbnail images throughout the sidebar on the left linking to cookies I have created for this site in the past. There are even more in the full Cookie category. Expect to see a lot more in December, too. Yay.

  15. Jessica

    Funny you should mention changing your NaBloPoMo tag because after I posted the last comment, I noticed that and almost commented again on it. I love it – especially the fact that the “almost” is carroted (is that even a word?) in there.

  16. *sniff* *sigh*. I guess I’ll just have to suffer through 2008 with an inferior calendar. Maybe next year?! Please oh please?

    p.s. thanks for considering it and checking into it. that was very sweet of you.

  17. You are so bloody brilliant! I’m not sure how many times I’ve come back to this entry alone in the past 24 hours to read this recipe – more so hoping that it would get imprinted on my skull.

    Besides that, I also dropped by to ask if you had any good books, sites, or personal stories to share when it comes to starting a small food business from the confines of ones home?

    I say this because I want to be able to bake more often but have the end result go to someone else’s stomach. This is not to say, that I don’t love all things sweet and scrumptious but I’m sure if I ate all of what I’ve baked alone, I would be leaking in buttercream frosting the next day.

    I don’t want to retrieve a loan from the bank to open up a bakery, but I do want to get myself out there and let people know that I am capable of making something quite tasty from my tiny kitchen. :)

    Your help would be greatly appreciated!


  18. Judy

    Made this on the weekend and it was a hit all the way around…I happened to have Dorie’s book and had ear marked this cake as a to be made…so make it I did.

  19. Mrs.Dolce

    You will be my favorite person in the world if you tell me how to make the Mascarpone cheese smell NICE. I have tried to many tiramisu recipes with mascarpone cheese, and each one seem to end up with a cheesy-goaty yucky smell, that you actually can NOT even eat it. Help if you can! :)

  20. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, Deb!!! You took the words right out of my mouth with your last paragraph about loving tiramisu but always being disappointed. I will bookmark this recipe to use whenever a craving hits me so I am no longer at the mercy of the faint-of-coffee-flavor-heart. I don’t have to wait for special occasion to make this though, do I?

    ps – Happy B-day to Jocelyn! It’s nice to finally put a face to the many comments. :)

  21. BTW–that cake rocked! Thank you thank you. Sorry for the delay–just back from Mexico. I seemed to have caught some sort of parasite. All food makes me vomit. Sexy I know. But I’ve lost 7 lbs since Saturday! I asked my Doctor if it would be ok to hold off on the anti-biotics for a few more days to take off a few more lbs. I think she wants to have me committed! aha ahah

    Anyway, I am back. Let’s get together for Tequila shots soon!

  22. Yvo

    Have I ever mentioned that tiramisu is my very favorite everrrr? I like Veniero’s version to bits, in fact it’s my top tiramisu everrr but only if it’s in the cups, not slices. (It makes a world of difference) Gosh. I think I am in love.

  23. Every year for my birthday my (Italian) husband makes me the *traditional* italian tiramisu. He got the recipe from his mother, and altered it a little. It is very good.

    Your recipe looks delicious! It looks like a lot more work though, then his version! hehe I have never had Tiramisu with alcohol in it. I think I would like it with bailys! :O) Hmmm I wonder if you could use Frangelico…?

    I would love to show you pics of Franco making me my tiramisu for my last birthday. I will post them on my blog, and you can come take a look if you would like. I will post his recipes too, so you can try my Italian mother in laws recipe! (I have to translate it first!

    I love all your delicious things you make! You are so talented!

  24. lana

    Now that i’ve made this cake and loved it (I made it for my birthday), I have to ask– do you know of an equally good tiramisu recipe?

  25. Laziza

    Deb – Can you offer some advice on this cake? I made it a couple of days ago and, while individual components tasted AMAZING, the cakes baked in about half the listed time and came out dense and a little hard (to the point that they didn’t really absorb the syrup all the way through). Any idea what went wrong? Could I have overbeat the batter? (Does that sound like a punch line?) I did think it seemed unusually thick for a batter when I poured it into the pans, like it needed more liquid. What do you think? The taste was worthy enough of a second attempt, but I’d ideally like the cakes to be a little more fluffy and absorbent.

  26. deb

    Hi Laziza — I did find the cake on the dense side, too, which I supposed was because it was trying to emulate the ladyfinger cookies usually used. Of course, I don’t know if you overbeat the batter or not… mine was soft, but certainly had more structure than other, fluffier white cakes. The amount of liquid was fairly standard for tiramisu, but like you, I like a LOT of liquid and would double it next time. No harm, right? Good luck

  27. sillyLN

    I just made this cake for my own birthday yesterday. (hey, I really wanted what _I_ wanted for my birthday) and it was great. If I made it again I would make more of the espresso/brandy syrup because I felt the cake layers did not get soaked enough. The flavor of the icing was perfectly balanced but I also added about 1/3 cup additional powdered sugar to the icing (after taking the filling aliquot out) to make it more spreadable. Pictured here:

  28. Kelly

    I am hoping someone else will read this – because Deb is off on a beach – and give a thought..I want to serve this Monday night for a dinner party but the only time I an make it is Sunday AM. Is that too long to have it in the fridge? Says up to 24 hrs…SillyLN…your cake looks great.

  29. juliet

    I made this for my boyfriend’s birthday and it was a huge it! I had a kitchen full of vegans fighting over who got to lick the platter….

  30. Sherrie

    Great recipe. I used Ricotta cheese instead of Mascarpone, which gave the frosting a very light taste and texture (it also has less calories!). I decorated the top with chocolate covered espresso beans (from Starbucks) which added a nice crunch. As well, i didn’t used Brandy, i used Amaretto cream which was amazing. I especially enjoyed this recipe because it wasn’t too sweet, yet it had tonnes of flavour.

  31. I have to post here also. This was amazing! I used Amaretto because that’s what I had, and I doubled the syrup recipe. I didn’t use all of the syrup, but a lot of it. It was the perfect moistness I thought, I was worried about that. It was a HUGE hit with my Italian family! They all had some, and they want it again. They are picky too, and don’t usually go on and on about a dessert. Thanks! :)

  32. I finally made this scrumptious cake. And WOW what a hit it was. I, too, am a connoisseur of Tiramisu and this cake did me proud! I made a slight variation in the size of the cake, though. I made mine out of two 10″ cake layers. I used the same amount of batter but divided it in half among the 10″ pans. The layers were only about an inch and a half tall and they only needed to cook for 20 minutes, but they turned out scrumptious! I had the darndest time finding mascarpone and instant espresso powder but finally found some at Whole Foods (a 30 minute drive from my house—2-hour round trip after searching then entire store 5 times before finding the mascarpone in a weird place, not with the cheese or sour creams). I didn’t even know what mascarpone was until this recipe. And the instant espresso powder is made by Ferrara, not Ferrari :), again had to go to Whole Foods for that too.

    My cake wasn’t too dense at all. My recipes have a tendency to come out too moist, though. Case in point was the frosting—mine was way too wet. I put it in the fridge for 15 minutes and it was still real wet. I tried for another half hour and still not any better. So I just iced it with wet frosting. It didn’t come out bad, though. I had the consistency of whip cream after it’s been setting out all afternoon.

    Next time, though, I’m going to make twice the amount of syrup and twice the amount of filling. The cake needed to be a little more wet throughout for me. And the filling was so thin, it was almost not there.

    All in all, this recipe was perfect, though. Many went back for second helpings and everyone who absolutely LOVES Tiramisu, said this was as good as the best they’d ever had.

  33. Anu

    Thank you for posting this. I was going to make a tiramisu for a dinner party but I’m going to make this instead. I have Dorie’s book and didn’t even know the tiramisu cake was in there!

  34. Christine

    Hi – I spent yesterday making this cake, and in the end it was yummy, but I did have problems along the way. My biggest problem was with the frosting – I followed the instructions to the letter and it came out a terrible texture. I’m not sure, but it seemed to fall apart after we tasted it with one Tablespoon of espresso extract and decided to up it to 1 1/2 TBS. It sort of “broke” – with lots of clotted wet curdles. I was so gentle with folding the whipped cream, etc, but it was very wet and looked like really wet oatmeal. I chilled it for another hour, but it still fell off the cake. I even tried to beat it later to see if I could make it come together again, but it stayed the same. I made the cute star on top, which helped to distract from the ugliness of the whole thing. Yours looks so creamy though! It did taste good, and everyone seemed to like it (though it was my 40th birthday, so they were going to say it was great no matter what!) I do think it was delicious in the mouth, even if it did look a disaster. I also agree that it would have been nice if more syrup had soaked into the cakes, which was a big surprise to me, as it seemed like I was trying to get so much liquid in there – it seemed like it wouldn’t have taken anymore at the time of soaking. Anyone know why the frosting would have taken on that consistency? All the ingredients were beautifully fresh and it still tasted good…

  35. deb

    Hi Christine — Happy birthday! I, too, noticed that slightly curdly appearance in the frosting/filling when I made it, but just chalked it up to the fact that it had ricotta in it, which is nearly impossible to get fully smooth. (I think you can see it in the photos above.) It’s definitely a tough thing to frost with. Fortunately, the flavor more than makes up for it!

  36. Stephanie

    I tried making this cake, and it came out quite hard and dense for me. Maybe you can tell me where I went wrong?

    I had to bake the two layers one after another, because I only had one cake pan. It smelled good, but it was rather firm, when I pulled it out. Does this make the cake hard in the same way toasted bread goes stale?

    I put the cake on a plate, and started to put the coffee mix on, and while the top started to get soggy, i didn’t drench it all the way through. Should I have?

    Then I frosted it and put it in the fridge. I didn’t cover it until about 12 hours later (is this what dried it out?), because it was so late by the time I finished it. Needless to say the frosting was a little darker than when I had started… Overall it took me about 4-6 hours.

    So when I went to cut it the following evening, it was pretty hard and dry (as in denser than poundcake). T_T Not as yummy as I was expecting, but it’s probably my own fault. Could you give me pointers for next time? Thanks in advance!

  37. AmateurBaker

    I made this last night for a party tonight, and I wanted to skip around my apartment because it looks soooooooooooo fabulous. A bit labor intensive, but not difficult at all! YAY!

  38. chicago gal

    Have you tried the Barefoot Contessa tiramisu recipe? I made it for a friend’s bday and I swear we were all tipsy and happy at the end of dessert! This recipe will make him happy for next year’s bash- thanks for sharing.

  39. akila

    Deb – I FINAllY made this cake. I’ve been waiting for the appropriate birthday to make it — someone who loves coffee but also has a birthday in the winter time because tiramisu is just not a summery dessert, to me. So, I made it for my boss and there were rave reviews all around. My criticisms:
    (1) I found the bottom layer to not be sufficiently moist and a bit too dense. I brushed on the coffee syrup on the bottom layer but I got impatient for the top layer so I just poured it on to the top layer. I think pouring worked better because the top layer was super moist.
    (2) I missed the slight crunchiness of the ladyfingers on the outside of the cake because I make regular tiramisu in a springform pan with ladyfingers circling the exterior.
    These are all minor complaints and I’ll probably make this dessert again, but I may try other tiramisu cake options because I wasn’t blown away (though I think everyone else was so maybe I’m just being too picky).

  40. akila

    Oh, and one more thing — I didn’t properly read the directions and dropped in another tablespoon and a half of butter into the cake batter which probably didn’t help my waistline but made the cake layers taste a lot like a pound cake/shortbread – yum!

  41. Liesl

    I have a recipe for a cannoli cake from an old Italian friend of my mothers…if you would like to to adapt and see what you think it is yours. Just let me know…by the way this cake looks fabulous, can’t wait to try it!

  42. just made this cake yesterday for a special friend’s birthday and it was a total hit! i can’t believe how easy it was too! thanks for the great recipe it definetly made a great evening even greater

  43. Anne

    This looks spectacular.

    Do you know how I could adapt this for an 8-inch, 3-layer cake? Would I need to increase the amount of espresso syrup or filling/frosting?

  44. Liz

    I yearned for taramisu after reading this, but wasn’t motivated enough to make my own cake layers. So, I combined your syrup, extract, and filling with a Cooks Illustrated technique. Instead of making cake layers, I dipped hard lady fingers in coffee, arranging them in a bowl and frosting (I had 2 layers though). I let it sit overnight, and it turned out great!

  45. Le Chef

    I’ve been looking for an amazing tiramisu cake recipe to make for my mom’s birthday in a few months….And i think i found the winner!!…It looks soo awesome!

  46. Holly

    i worked at a bakery for a year or two, and we made a yellow cake with cannoli-cream filling, covered with light whipped cream and crushed walnuts. We called it a Casada Cake. you may want to look into this, if you are still interested in making a ‘cannoli cake’


  47. Rachel

    I made this cake today, and it was delicious! I was invited to Easter dinner with my boyfriend’s Italian family, so I thought, “What better than Tiramisu?” Lo and behold, my favorite baking blog, Smitten Kitchen, had a recipe for it!

    This cake was super easy to make and the Italians LOVED it. My favorite part of the cake was the dough recipe. It was light and airy, yet moist. It was well-behaved in my oven (which is temperamental) and the flavor was delicious. I’m going to use this batter recipe for other cakes as well. :)

  48. christina

    I made this today and it’s so delicious!!! Like Rachel, it also came out light, airy, yet moist. Not too sweet. This is a great batter recipe – I agree!!!

  49. Elizabeth

    Not to be Captain Obvious, or anything, but I was wondering if the people who’s cakes came out too dense used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour? I used to make that mistake myself. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, but in this cake I would guess the extra gluten/protein could make a difference.

  50. Kelly H

    I’m not too terribly wild about tiramasu, but you’ve made this look so good I need to make this immediately. (By the way, I made your strawberry chiffon shortcake last night– HEAVEN!) I need to make this tonight for an event, and I can NOT find mascarpone cheese OR espresso powder. Do you think cream cheese would be ok instead of mascarpone? Instead of espresso powder, do you think using instant coffee grounds or something like those mocha drink powders would be a halfway decent substitute?

    Thank you for your website. It’s my new obsession.

  51. Chris K

    I had lost your website and just recently found it; this time I’ll definitely bookmark and keep it! You make totally glamourous meals, but they are accessible by the everyday cook. I appreciate you; keep up the fantastic work!

  52. stacy

    hey deb .. im interested in baking this cake but i have a 9 by 11 pan so i was wondering would i have to double the ingrediants that u listed?

  53. Wendy

    What happened Deb? Everything was going perfect until it was time to frost the cake. All of a sudden it turned into goop. It was no longer firm and it drooped all over the cake, I couldn’t for the life of me spread it evenly. I kept it away from the hot oven and even refrigerated the frosting but it didn’t help. Any tips to prevent this from happening again?

  54. Jenn

    Hi Deb! This is a tried-and-true recipe for me! I have made it THREE times, the first two for anniversaries, and the past one was for Father’s Day (okay, I’ll admit I was being selfish..having never tried the cake and drooling over it before I gave it away made me really want an excuse to make it again where I could eat a slice!) My verdict: it’s very elegant and light tasting and not too sweet (points with the asian community!). The cake was drier and more crumbly than I thought, but the flavor of the butter made up for it :) I can see why you would want to add more coffee liquor, but I was okay with the original numbers. Personally for me, I would love to have more frosting on the cake! It’s delicious!! Thank you for sharing!

  55. ruby

    I read your advice regarding making (wedding) cakes and I have a question about this tiramisu cake. If I wanted to make the layers in advance and freeze them, would it be better for me to soak them with the syrup, freeze and then frost & decorate while still frozen OR freeze the layers plain, let thaw, then proceed with the soaking etc? Thanks.

  56. Susan

    I adapted parts of this recipe to make a tiramisu cake but thought I’d add one of my adaptations here. I used some of your cold brewed iced coffee to make the coffee extract for this cake. I can’t find espresso powder to save my life! This adaptation worked very well. It’s not as stong as expresso, but strong enough for me!

  57. Liz

    Hey Deb! Is the espresso extract made with the powder much stronger than regular espresso? I’m wondering if I could just buy a couple shots of espresso and those instead of tracking down a whole jar of powder to make the extract. I’m making this for a bday on Sunday (planning on doubling the syrup and filling/frosting since the bday girl likes a wet tiramisu), so stay tuned for pics!

    1. deb

      The espresso extract would be a bit stronger, but don’t buy something you won’t need just for one cake! I am sure you can make do with one of those Starbucks espressos that could peel the paint off a car.

  58. Liz

    (I see the comment above mine used the coffee, but wasn’t sure if the point of using the espresso powder was to make espresso or a super-charged-espresso)

  59. SML

    wonderful cake! I took other readers advice and doubled the syrup recipe but then panicked when I kept pouring and pouring and pouring the syrup on the cakes. Surely (or so I thought) this is a mistake…but it wasn’t. I ended up not using the double amount of syrup but when I cut into the cake the next day…I wish I had used the whole thing! Anyhow…wonderful cake, excellent flavour and I will certainly make it again! Thanks Deb!

  60. Samphire

    Hey Deb, thanks for sharing this great recipe…I made it for my lovely boy’s birthday yesterday and it was easy, quick and delicious. I whipped it up from start to frosted finish in a couple of hours while our very own little wild beast was napping and we ate it after dinner. On an effort invested versus appreciative drooling elicted rating scale, this cake is currently winning the grand cake tournament.

    Two things I’d do different next time, more syrup, as everyone seems to concur, and I’d bake it in one pan, with the oven lower, over a longer period of time, and then split the cake, as I find that split cake always soaks up syrup better than two individually baked layers. But very minor details. An awesome cake, love it!

  61. I just made this recipe, and as a coffee-hater who always avoids tiramisu: I am a 100% convert now. I split the two layers into four layers, doubled the syrup, and made an extra half-batch of the filling. I think I may have had mediocre tiramisu in the past, or at least tiramisu NOT made with brandy – the brandy absolutely MAKES it. Thanks so much for posting this! (Oh, and the only instant espesso I could find costs a whopping $8, so instead I used 3 tbsp. instant coffee to the 2 tbsp. boiling water. All the tiramisu experts at the table said it was great.)

  62. wil

    This was too good! I made it with no major changes or substitutions, and it was as popular with my guests as water in the desert. I would like to provide a link for the geometrically-challenged chefs who may have a problem producing a stencil for a reasonable looking 5-point star(It ain’t so easy freehand). From Betsy Ross to your kitchen:

    Is this origami? Or simply paper-cutting? In any event, knowing this technique will add a nicely finished look to the tiramisu cake.

  63. Izzy

    Hi there — Just wanted to tell you that I made this cake for my husbands 30th birthday last night, star and all!, and it was a huge success. The frosting is pure heaven. Thank you for helping me break the mold of the Angel Food Cake tradition of my in-laws! :)

  64. allie

    i’m planning on baking this on saturday for my dad’s birthday. i’m scared it’s my first time baking a cake from scratch!! I’ve never used cake flour before. would it make a huge difference in texture if I used AP flour?

  65. Elizabeth

    Wow, I just made this and it looks fantastic. Only problem: I made it for a baby shower. Then realized the alcohol content makes it totally inappropriate. Whoops! Can you tell I’ve never been to a baby shower? At least I’ll be able to enjoy it…

  66. Renate

    So Deb, would you say that basically this recipe has more cake in proportion to the creamy mascarpone than most regular tiramisu recipes? Like many others who have commented here, I LOVE tiramisu and have tried every version I could order at restaurants and every recipe I came across. Up until now my favorite is the recipe from ‘The Il Fornaio Baking Book’. I’m anxious to try your recipe and think my birthday in a couple weeks is the perfect time to do so. I noticed that lana and SillyLN from December ’07 both made this for their birthdays, so that must be what Sagitarius bakers DO! I will undoubtedly concoct a version of tiramisu that is somewhere between your recipe and my old favorite. This I.F. recipe calls for a zabaglione layer which includes sweet marsala, not putting any booze in the mascarpone cream layer. Also the espresso mixture contains dark rum and totals about a cup, which makes me believe the comments on doubling the syrup are correct.

    I am very new to your site and just love the way you write! You keep me chuckling with your sarcasm and humor. I am so glad you are super-mom and can still provide blogging excellence with your hands full and baby in tow. May you never run out of energy!

  67. Kelley

    Made this using double the syrup to really soak the cakes. So delicious! I agree with Deb’s suggestion to use brandy for the booze. It just tastes right. This cake is perfect on the second day.

  68. Katelyn

    I just made this for a friend’s birthday too. She really enjoys tiramisu.I even made the star on top, however, I added mini chocolate chips surrounding the star to make an outline. The star turned out really cute with eyes and a smiling mouth too. Thanks for the delicious cake.

  69. val

    I have the simplest and most DELISH way to make a cannoli cake! just make three layers of your favorite vanilla cake, and then make a good cannoli cream layer the cream in between each layer of cake, then cover the ENTIRE cake in more canolli cream, then cover THAT with crushed canolli shells, top with 1 cannolo, let me tell you its INSANE, but since its so decadent, serve in small pieces.

  70. hey…been craving for this type of cake during my pregnancy and finally made it to celebrate my son’s second month b’day and my entire family just LOVED it! :) Thanks a bunch for sharing this recipe.Was easy to put together and it’s definitely a keeper!

  71. Jenny

    This looks and sounds soooo good! I am throwing a 40th surprise party for my sister mid February and have been trying to find a recipe for a cake, not just single servings with lady fingers. Do you think this would hold up on a tiered cake, well supported of course, as one of the tiers? I will also be decorating with a fondant over lay to match the rest of the tiers. Any suggestions or ideas? Please? I will make this regardless of the party that is for sure!

  72. Tammy

    I would like to have tiramisu flavor/filling between the layers of my 25th anniversary cake……. at least the top layer maybe. Any suggestions? It will be 2 or 3 cake sections.

  73. Hi! Like many others and yourself I am also very particular about Tiramisu. I have also tried many different kinds and make my own (which everyone loves) with ladyfingers. Lately, I have been having a hard time finding ladyfingers so I decided to make your recipe. I know that most people are raging over it…. for us, I am not sure, The cake turned out to be pretty dry even though I used all the syrup it calls for…. I did use cake flour and still…. it tastes more like a pound cake. Unfortunately, after spending time following very precise directions I wasn’t thrilled with the results. One ingredient I did substitute though….. and I am wondering if that had everything with it not coming out right??? I did not have any buttermilk so I made my own by using one cup real milk with 1 tbsp. lemon juice.I have used this substitute for other recipes that call for buttermilk11 too. Should I have used the real thing? Would that have made the difference? Anyways… I am not sure that I wil be making this again but for anyone that does I do recommend deff increasing the amount of syrup used.

  74. Monica Fanya

    I just made this cake and it was a Success (the capital S is intentional!). I was working with little time, so after baking the cakes they went to soak in the espresso syrup in the fridge overnight. I saved making the icing and assembling the whole kit and caboodle for the next day. Pressing crushed chocolate covered espresso beans into the sides was definitely crucial. It was cake glory!

  75. sarah


    this cake looks delicious. I will try it on a one dish at a friend’s place. Does the cream frosting hold well if I have a 30 minute bus journey to endure ? :(

  76. Prandesha

    Hi Deb

    Everything I tried from this site has worked so far, so im making this cake for my birthday tomorrow! Cant wait!
    I know, baking my own birthday cake… but then again, why not? :)

  77. jess

    I just tried making the cake today and it was a failure :( after i took it out of the oven, it shrunk. The top didnt sink and still had its dome, but the sides caved in and my cake ended up having an hour-glass shape.
    Someone please enlighten me as to where i went wrong :((

  78. hi, this looks so delish so I am trying it out as one of the layers for a wedding cake client. my only gripe is that the filling totally curdled on me. unusable, but delicious! I doctored it, or started over and barely whipped the cream, assuming that when you add it to the mascarpone, you will be continuing to whip it. this helped alot. I look forward to tasting it though and thanks for the inspiration!

  79. Crockerdile

    I made this cake for my Mother’s birthday party. She loved it. The cake was light and the frosting was delectable, it disappeared within minutes. Thanks.

  80. Thank you for this recipe! Tiramisu has always been one of my favorite desserts, and as you pointed out, it to often disappoints in resturants. I have been searching for a good tiramisu recipe and I just may have found it! I think this will wow even my italian boyfriend and his family! Keep up the great work! Ciao.

  81. Gloria

    Baked one last night … it’s lovely. The cake rounds *are* dense (although I did bake mine in 8″ pans), but I think it just helps soak up the syrup. The syrup, by the way, should definitely be doubled … I doubled it, used about 3/4, and only just soaked the cakes halfway. I also enjoyed eating some of the cake rounds plain … very tasty and sweet.

    I wonder if I didn’t use enough mascarpone … my frosting turned out very smooth and creamy, but certainly a bit thinner.

    I used amaretto, as I didn’t want to brave the lines at the liquor store!

    Thank you for another wonderful recipe.

  82. Virginia

    I made this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday- and its currently sitting in my fridge to let the flavors “meld” as you recommended. If you were to use the optional chocolate covered espresso beans for decoration, how would you place them on there? I love the beautiful star you made with cocoa powder, but I have these espresso beans sitting around as well.

  83. Dawn

    I am new to the whole idea of food-bloggery so I was a bit apprehensive but…I loved this recipe! I am not a fan of the sogginess of traditional tiramisu so for me this was perfect! I brought it to a party and everyone were very impressed! I love your pictures and right now I feel incredibly inspired to try every other recipe of yours! Thank you!

  84. Leen

    I tried making this cake and all my friends love it!!!! :):):):):) However, I was wondering if anyone out there knows a tiramisu recipe that has no coffee and no alcohol??? Cos some of my friends do not like the taste of it. >.< Thank You!


  85. Made this cake recently for a friend’s birthday. He loved it and saved me a few pieces. It’s out of this world! Light and full of flavor, the mascarpone cream adding just the right touch. I doubled the syrup and extract though, after reading most of the reviews here. Will definitely make it again soon!!

  86. Meggie

    I thought all of the elements of the cake were delicious, but it was a little dense for me. I, too, am very particular about tiramisu!

  87. The first time I made tiramisu I religiously added both Kahlua and rum and got feedback that it tasted like black forest! Yum black forest but black forest nevertheless. I had done a few other things to influence that (like too much chocolate grated between layers) but decided that the main culprit was the alcohol. Have emitted it ever since and find that I get better results. ( The silver spoon doesn’t mention alcohol either. What do you think?

  88. I’m considering using this recipe for Thanksgiving this year, but instead of a layered cake, I want to make cupcakes. Do you think this recipe would translate well? My thought is that I’ll make the cupcakes, hollow them out to soak with the brandy/espresso liquor and then fill/frost them with the mascarpone mixture. Any tips/feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  89. janet

    Made the cake for Bday posted on Smitten kitchen Facebook.All the flavors were great but i wished i would of read the post and made 2 or maabey 3 batches of syrup. The cake def dense what can i do to make lighter, less cake flour?other than that cream came out too thin too frost had to make more and quickly frosted the outside .Do u think it would of wipped better if i had bought heavy whipping cream? other trhan that I made the stencil and it came out real pretty!!/smittenkitchen just posted!

  90. Jean S

    I made this cake this past weekend and we all just loved it. I thought the flavors were perfect….it has just the right amount of brandy and coffee flavors which didn’t overwhelm. I didn’t have cake flour left in my pantry so I used 1.5 cups all purpose flour with 1/4 cup cornstarch. The cakes were spongy and easy to transfer and manipulate. I beat the whipped heavy cream into pretty stiff peaks. I decorated it simply with mini chocolate chips with a few chocolate covered expresso beans in the middle. A definite winner!

  91. G

    I made this for Dec 24 in was yummy. Even my 3 yo who doesn’t eat cake had it and I let her. It’s only 2 tbsp of amaretto afterall. I especially like the chocolate chips between the layers. Next time I might make more syrup because I think the cake could be a bit more moist. And I might bake the cake at once and then cut it in two after baking too. Still: 2 thumbs up.

  92. Vrushali

    When I made it earlier, I refrigerated it for 24 hours as suggested, but when taken out it had become quite hard. So, I kept it out for some time and then served it. I have made 2 cakes for my son’s birthday party tomorrow. How much before should I take it out so that the frosting will not be runny and cake will still be soft??

  93. jenniegirl

    This was a nice celebration cake-made it for a good friend of mine-first try at a homemade cake-and it was lovely-not too sweet-but not dry either. I don’t know if I would make it for MY birthday-but it was certainly enjoyed by all.

  94. Chandana

    Hi, I just discovered this recipe. I see it calls for cake flour .. what is the difference between cake flour and all purpose? Can I use all-purpose flour instead?

  95. I found this recipe a couple of years ago and have made it many times since! I love it. Thought now i’ve joined the world of blogging i should let you know.
    The only real tweak i have made is to slice the cakes in half and so add more layers and more of the cake becomes soaked in the delicious syrup. I also went for the brandy option. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  96. I’ve been obsessed with this recipe for a few months now and finally decided to get down to it for my friend’s birthday. I’m sure everyone would love it, especially with coolest star shaped design, great creation by the way! I just have one newbie question, i’ve been googling for the entire day learning about “heavy cream”. I’m really confused and wish one day i’d have your expertise. Seems like heavy cream = double cream. Yet sites says that heavy cream is 36-40% fat while double cream goes at 48%. From what i gather i’m pretty certain heavy cream does not equal to pure cream, but ironically, double cream more fat content than pure cream. I googled about the technique as welll, did you have to add sugar while whipping cream? Many hearty thanks to anyone who can shed some light on these :)

  97. Chandana

    Hi, I did make the cake and had no problem with the steps, however the cake was dry. I did double the quantity of soaking liquid, but even then the cake was dry. How can one make a moister cake? What needs to be added? More butter or some milk to the batter? The tiramisu flavor was surely there and that was great. However the cake needs to be more moist. Any help with that will be great.

  98. Annabelle

    This cake is amaaaaazing! It has all the flavor of tiramisu, and it’s light and airy, so much so that it’s admittedly hard not to keep sampling it every to minutes. I made this for Thanksgiving, and it was the most popular dessert- Success! I would definitely agree with all the other commenters that using twice the amount of said espresso syrup is necessary. The cake seemed a little dry before putting it all together, but after refrigerating it for a few hours, it came out fine. I would recommend refrigerating it for at least three hours as this says, that might take out some dryness as refrigerating it really helps the cake soak up all the flavor. Really, this is delicious and completely worth the effort; it isn’t even that difficult. You will love it. I’m getting hungry talking about it…and fyi? The pictures don’t even do it justice.

  99. Ellen

    I made this cake for a friend’s birthday and it was, hands-down, an absolute success!

    I doubled the expresso syrup, per the comment suggestions. I also split the layers (will do this the next time, as well), so I doubled the filling/frosting recipe. Everything came together beautifully. The flavors are amazing. I imagine that if you are working in a hot kitchen or humid climate this cake might not turn out as imagined, but as I baked it in February in the midwest, it was perfect.

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I will be making it again.

  100. Rachel

    I made these as cupcakes, with just a bit of alterations: in order to get the choco in there, I mixed it in the batter, and I thickened the frosting with just a bit more powdered sugar, so it’d plop better on the tops. Wow. An absolutely perfect bite of Tiramisu with every chomp. Just wonderful. I will be making these often.

  101. rose

    wow – so impressive! i made it for a coworkers birthday and everyone was so impressed (i did the star design and that went over very well!). i didn’t end up putting espresso into the frosting, just over the cake (some people commented about the frosting being too loose and i didn’t want to chance it), and the frosting was AMAZING. i also used 9″ cake pans, so i had to make 3 layers to make it tall enough, but it was so beautiful and tasty!! thanks again deb – another winner!

  102. zoe

    I just made this for a charity cake sale at my work and it went down a storm! the first cake finished! thanks for the recipe – I’ll definitely be making it again!

  103. Navreet

    I made your cake today for a friend’s birthday. So far it looks amazing, still waiting for her surprise!!!
    awesome recipe :)
    p.s. i used amaretto and so far pretty fantastic

  104. Amanda D. (Soon to be H.)

    I made this today – my friend Justin nearly passed out he was enjoying the scraps so much as I was baking it. Then he proceeded to watch me ice the entire thing awestruck silence.
    Needless to say – the recipe is fantastic!

  105. sonia


    I tried your recipe but I did not separate out the mixture into two separate cakes…the centre did not come out all right everything else was perfect! now am pretty much near tears!! I love tiramisu and am so excited to make it!! How can i fix this? Should i cut it up and then re bake or something? But wont it get ruined then>

      1. Isn’t it amazing that people have been posting about this cake for over 5 years? If for no other reason, I now must make it. My only issue……….I have celiac and it must be GF. I am fearful to use GF flour but I am going to go ahead and do it anyway. I will report back. Thanks for all you do. I am a truly devoted fan.

  106. Jennifer Rodda

    I made this for my Dads birthday (I posted a photo of it on your FB page because I’m soooo happy with it). I followed your instructions and it turned out beautifully. The only problem was the amount of frosting – not enough. Not because of your instructions they were spot-on, but because my little boys kept asking for samples as was assembling the cake!

  107. Shannon

    Delicious! I made this tiramisu cake over the weekend, with slight adjustments for living at 4800 ft elevation, and it was fantastic! The frosting was devine and the cake was great too. I opted to use Kahlúa because I wanted the coffee flavor to really come through (and because I wavered when trying to determine what would be a good brandy since I hardly ever drink it). (Can anyone recommend a good quality brandy?) I also accidentally picked up unsweetened chocolate, but it was delicious anyway. This cake was certainly the most complicated cake I’ve ever made before, but the excellent instructions were easy to follow and the cake came together beautifully. I was in a slight rush because I too started baking late for an occasion, so I had some trouble getting the frosting on the outside edges of the cake. Next time I think I’ll give myself more time for cooling the frosting and the cakes before trying to frost. I will also plan to make more of the espresso syrup as the cakes could use more saturation. Maybe I’ll try doubling the syrup recipe and going through two steps of brushing the syrup on, with resting time in between for the cakes to absorb the syrup. I think I might also increase the espresso concentrate to give it even more of an espresso taste. Overall this tiramisu cake was absolutely delicous and was very well received. Thank you so much Deb, for all of your inspiration, recipes, and beautiful writing.

  108. Zinatora

    A great tried and true recipe :). Thank yo Deb. As usual, your testing and tasting meant that I could try this recipe without hesitation…and I did
    And boy was it great:). I doubled both the syrup and filling and baked the cake in an 8″ tin. The cake does not rise much and I believe that is intentional…it is more of a “biscuit” style cake that is just sponges up any liquid and gets easily saturated with coffee syrup. I had been thinking of using my own recipe for the cake portion, so glad I did not. I then cooled the layers, and I was able to easily split them to make 4 layers of cake, which I carefully soaked in 3/4 of the doubled syrup (used a spray bottle). I then filled the cake generously and iced the top and sides and covered the sides with home made lady fingers tied with a ribbon. I covered the top in the traditional coco powder, but also threw on a few layers of dark chocolate curls!!! What a hit…flavors were perfect and it looked stunning:) My bro said it was hands down the best tiramisu he had eaten whether home or patisserie made!
    Thanks for your search, your testing and your posting:)

  109. Cristina

    Hi! I’m going to make this Tiramisu Cake this weekend for a friend, but she wants me to cover it in fondant and decorate it for her. Do you think this cake and it’s frosting will hold up? Should I just make it as a side cake for her? What do you think? Any help would be awesome!

    1. deb

      Hi Cristina — I’ve never worked with fondant before. It might be best to try it with a mini version, or perhaps someone with more fondant experience will pipe up here.

  110. Fahmida

    Thanks for such a GREAT recipe! I’m in the UK and couldn’t find cake flour. So I replaced a quarter of the flour (plain) with self raising flour and the sponge was just perfect!

  111. Molly

    Deb, it’s been too long since I’ve written to tell you you’re an absolute doll. I have a wild crush on you that i can’t shake. Just made your pickled carrots 2 days ago and my bf & I ate 3/4 of a pound of them, a few salted almonds, and 2 Belgian Ales for dinner last night – perfect! Ok, about the tiramisu: have you made a more traditional one ever (you know, the non-cake, less-work version)? Do you have a recipe you like/recommend? Also, David Leb’s version calls for cognac, but I see you recommend brandy or marsala. They all sound delirously delicious to me, but I wonder which is most traditional or why you choose one over the other. All personal preference, I suppose. I agree Kahlua does not belong and I think Amaretto, while lovely, might overpower. Waiting impatiently for a big occasion to make this, but hoping in the meantime to try a mini version of a more traditional tiramisu. Cheers!

  112. Laura

    Are there any good alcohol free replacements that I can use? I am pregnant and I’ve been wanting to make a tiramasu but do not know how to replace the alcohol. Thanks for your help!!

  113. Cristina

    Have you ever used pavesini biscotti to make a traditional tiramisu? It’s the type I used when I was taught in Italy. Living in Westchester I can find it in most Italian specialty shops…distinguished by it’s bright yellow packaging. It’s a lot lighter than a lady finger which I like because I feel that allows the other (more exciting) ingredients to shine. Anyway, you should give it a try!

  114. Laura

    I just made this for my sister’s birthday this weekend past. What a cake! The next time I make it, I will need to shave down the bake time just a hair – the cake came out slightly drier than I wanted, but what a treat! Thanks for the post!

  115. amber

    I followed this recipe to the “t” and was very happy with the flavor. The filling and the frosting were perfect and delicious. However, I, like others, found the cake to be a little dense, and I was sad that it seemed a bit dry. My heart dropped when I saw a piece of uneaten cake on someone’s plate – the dry part that hadn’t soaked up the espresso syrup. I did trim the cake, which left some absorbent parts exposed, and some kind of “crust” part exposed. What do you think of poking holes in the cake like you would a rum cake? Would it be too saturated? I like my tiramisu to be a little soggy. ?? Thoughts?

  116. Paullett

    Three guesses what I’m going to make for my desert table on Christmas day?
    I’m a chef by trade but not of the pastry variety. Ya- real licensed chef checks you out for ideas.Anyway the family EXPECTS me to cook for every holiday and every Birthday. They usually call me up to “order” what they want~ You should see the requests. They think my home is a four star restaurant and they want the best of the best on the menu$$$. Like I said …I am a chef- a good one…but it’s my job. I love cooking but it’s my job. I don’t like to cook at home. My motto: The best meal is one cooked for me by someone else.I don’t even care if it’s hot dogs! Your site has inspired me a number of times to cook/bake at home. That is a high complement- really! Last Christmas I had a request for tiramisu. So, I made the authentic style with the Italian cookies.It did not go over well. It was good but it was not like their aunts. She is not a chef. So I’m going to use your recipe to redeem my reputation. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  117. Zauber Jim

    I made this last night to take over to the fam’s for our holiday dinner tonight–it was absolutely wonderful.

    I took note of all the comments and made some tweaks to avoid a dry cake. I doubled the espresso syrup, doubled the filling, and cut my 8″ round layers in half (then I proceeded as instructed, including soaking one side of a layer then flipping it a soaking the other). I opted for adding Amaretto to the mix. The sponge cake soaked all the espresso syrup right up. I was worried that would result in an overly saturated and soggy cake, but no; to my pleasant surprise the crumb was delicate and moist while the overall structure of the cake was not compromised. So fear not when adding double the espresso syrup. I didn’t encounter any problem with my frosting breaking. I set it to chill for about 20 minutes before adding the extract and then for another couple after; it came out incredibly smooth, and spreadable.
    And the sight of four layers? Lovely.

  118. DG

    After reading some of the comments, I went ahead and made the layers and syrup from the espresso chiffon cake, while doubling the mascarpone cream (since I had three layers instead of two.) Added a few tablespoons of the espresso rum syrup to the cream and while next time I might make the syrup with brandy as Deb suggests, the dark rum was a nice touch. Very very boozy and delicious.

  119. Danielle

    Hi Deb – I want to make this cake to serve this coming Sunday. I was wondering how far in advance I can make it, or its components? Can I start making some of the components on Thursday or Friday? Thanks!

  120. Rebecca

    Hi there- finally worked up the courage to make this for a dinner party on Sunday! I’m also doing your lasagna! One quick clarification if you could. The espresso extract, if I’m reading the directions correctly, the only place it’s used is in the frosting, toward the end of the assembly process? Many many thanks?

  121. Alice

    I must say the directions are very unclear. I have used the website for several other breads and cakes and they have all came out really good, however the directions here were a little cofusing in regards to makeing the frosting. Screwed up tonight trying to make it, will make another attemp tomorow, according to the other reviews it seems to be a good recipie.

  122. Maya

    Hi this recipe looks absolutely amazing! I want to make it for my friend’s birthday this week :)

    I was just wondering what the difference is in the recipe between the espresso extract and the syrup? Where do you add which, and when?

  123. Steph

    I am planning to make this cake soon, but I had a question- people seem to be commenting that the cake recipe makes too dense of a cake- do you think any of your other cake recipes (ie. the best birthday cake’s yellow cake) would have been a better pick?

    This looks SO good, I love your blog! Can’t wait to try it :)

  124. Hina

    Hi Deb!

    I see that many people have asked you about an alcohol free syrup component but as of yet there’s no answer. Suggestions pretty please?


  125. deb

    I feel like the booze is a big part of the classic tiramisu flavor so I’m loath to offer substitutions. That said, you can just skip it. I would stay away from anything (should it even exist) like alcohol-free brandy flavoring, for example.

  126. Amanda

    I am going to try this cake for an “Italian” themed dinner party I am going to. I suppose after reading the commentary, I will double the syrup recipe in case I need it. I do not have 2 round pans, so I will use square ones and cross my fingers that they will cook evenly. (I’m kind of a baking novice, if you can’t tell!) I adore tiramisu, and I spent quite a while comparing Internet recipes until I landed here. I just have a great feeling that it will be perfect. Thank you for sharing!

  127. Anna

    Hi Deb – first time poster, but long time reader. I’m planning on making this for my mother’s birthday and did a test run of the recipe tonight – halved the recipe and used a 6″ round pan. It was delicious, but I feel like the cake might be a bit too dense for my mom’s tastes. She prefers lighter cakes like chiffon. I’ve never made a Genoise cake, but do you think it would go with this recipe? Your highly insightful opinion would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance :)

  128. Hi Deb- I’m in love with this cake! And in awe of your blog overall.. It’s pretty awesome that you posted this in 2007 and your still responding to comments. So, I’m baking my first wedding cake for a close friend and guess what flavor she wants…… Tiramisu!! Do you think this recipe will work well? It will be a 3-tier, with the tiramisu-inspired cake as the base and top tier.. Ps: Wedding is outdoors on a farm in the middle of August. Thanks :)

  129. Irene

    Just had to post to say that this is probably the best cake I have ever made! It is amazing!! Made it on Saturday and then again yesterday.

    Shantilly, I think this would be amazing for a wedding cake!

  130. Ilona

    Hi Deb,

    I’d like to make this cake for someone’s birthday, but I don’t have instant espresso powder. Would you recommend substituting brewed espresso? And if so, do you know how strong I should make it?

  131. Candydrops123

    hello there,
    i would just like to ask, is it easy to find the ingredients? (btw, i live in Australia)
    and is it easy to make? because i am 14 years old, and mother’s day is coming up, so decided to make tiramisu for my mother alongside with the help of my brother.

    i really hope you reply back as soon as possible.
    thank you. and sorry for the inconvenience.

    1. deb

      Hi Candy — I am not an expert on which ingredients are readily available in Australia but my hunch here is that most will be. Good luck! Even if you can’t get everything, your mom will love it. :)

  132. Taylor

    Hi Deb! I could go on and on about how much I love your recipes, but I am in a pinch right now and need some advice! My mother’s 50th birthday is this Friday, and she loves White Russians! However, she does not like the taste of coffee otherwise. I thought it would be clever to use Kahlua and a bit of light cream to wet the cake, but I am worried about it falling apart. Some recipes mention brushing the cake with vodka, and that sounds terrible to me.. Any ideas on how I could add a White Russian twist on this cake?

    1. deb

      Hi Taylor — They’re my husband’s favorite, too, so I’ve occasionally pondered how to do the same. I think I’d make a chocolate cake and brush it with Kahlua. Then, I’d make a regular vanilla buttercream frosting and filling and use just the tiniest amount of vodka in it — 1 teaspoon. Enough that you have the faintest recognition but are not, in fact, eating a loud vodka buttercream. I actually think a chocolate pudding filling would be nice, too, flavored with chocolate. My two favorite chocolate cakes are this one (best at the recommended size) and this one (scales well; is sturdier). Good luck!

  133. catherine

    I just made this this weekend, and I had the EXACT same problem with the frosting as Christine in #54– it looked fine after the initial addition of extract, I added a tiny bit more, and it totally fell apart! It was like little curds of frosting floating in liquid. It was like some sort of bizarre chemistry experiment about the states of matter. There was no way to even frost the cake. Of course, I was very upset, because I’d made the cake as a surprise for my boyfriend and I really wanted it to work out!

    Here’s what I did: I stuck the curds back in the fridge for awhile so it was really nice and cold. Then, I dumped in all the powdered sugar I had left (maybe 3/4 cup? I don’t really know.) Then I used my mixer and just beat the crap out of it. It ended up being a little grainy, but it was at least spreadable at that point! So I frosted the cake and stuck it all in the freezer. That seemed to have worked, even if it wasn’t the most beautiful thing ever! The taste was still good and it was a hit.

    Hope this helps if anyone else experiences the odd separation in their frosting!

  134. Katherine

    Hi Deb,

    My filling and frosting was a little bit on the runny side. What could have I done wrong?
    Please HELP!


  135. sharon

    hi deb,
    this cake looks really tempting. I want to give it a try but i might not access to expresso powder. Could i use instant coffee powder instead. thanks

  136. Alex

    Just made this and here are my tips to others. Double the syrup, maybe triple if you like it good and soaked rather than cake like (which of course I do!) I would pour the syrup on both sides of both cake layers (rather than just the top of the bottom
    layer and both sides of the second layer) As for frosting the cake,I say put all of your marscarpone on the first layer that you top with chocolate (or just don’t add the espresso syrup) IT WILL BREAK and you don’t need it. Instead, once mine broke and was not salvageable, I made a traditional marscapone for the top and sides. 2 cups marscapone and whisk in 2/3rd cup confectioners sugar and two eggs yolks. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold in. Yummy, beautiful, and it does not break. Also, the thinner your slice, the better you can taste all the wonderful favors. One final tip, I always use caster sugar and cake flour for my cakes. Always a better result. Thanks as always for your great posts, beautiful pictures and fabulous recipes.

  137. Ingrid

    Hi Deb,

    Thanks again for such a wonderful recipe! Can you please explain how to use a stencil on top of frosting (v. an unfrosted cake)? By the way, I just wanted to tell you that my entire family LOVES each of your creations!

  138. Lou

    Hi Deb, we’re trying your gorgeous looking recipe over here in the UK today for a Tiramasu lover’s birthday and although we are familiar with cup measurements and the alternative names for ingredients, we have struggled with the quantity of butter. We have been to the US many times and so know what a stick is but in our experience we’ve only seen a regular sized 4 pack which is equivalent in weight to our single wrap in size. (250grams) The alternative to sticks given in the recipe is 10 tablespoons which will weigh in at about 280grams, I would expect the weight of 1 1/4 sticks to weigh about 150grams. We are really not sure how much butter to add. Could you give us a measure in cups perhaps?
    Many thanks from York, England!

  139. Hannah

    I just made this cake! I used Kahlua and about an ounce more of mascarpone in the filling/frosting, and it turned out quite well! If and when I make this again, I’ll probably make it with twice as much syrup, though. I’m definitely someone who likes their tiramisu insanely moist.

  140. Heidi

    I made this for my sister’s birthday and it was VERY successful. A very soft cake drenched with espresso flavor-packed syrup. For the chopped chocolate, I ended up using a food processor to save time and the texture of the chocolate was wonderful! Similar to that chocolatey crumble that they have in DQ cakes. The frosting/filling was divine. I will be making it again! Lasts for a long time too. :) Thank you!

  141. shira

    just made this for a party tomorrow. i haven’t tasted it yet, but found that the suggested amount of espresso syrup works fine. i did moisten the bottom of the first cake layer, per commenters’ suggestion.

    i doubled the frosting/filling (which seemed like the right amount, and since commenters had warned that it can curdle when you add the espresso concentrate, i added that into the mascarpone/sugar mix before adding the heavy cream. so the filling had the extra espresso. it had a very creamy but slightly liquid-y texture (also really yummy).

    surrounded the whole thing with decorative vertical ladyfingers and going to make a cocoa heart on top…hoping this holds together for 24 hours + 30 min of travel out of the fridge!

  142. shira

    update: should’ve gone for the full amount of espresso syrup. the cake seemed really wet when i was putting on the syrup but could have held more syrup to be more like tiramisu. Double the frosting/filling was a tiny bit too much, but needed more than the recipe suggests. 24 hours in the fridge was completely fine…i think this would’ve held up even another day or so.

  143. Kelly

    This cake was a big hit, tastes better than regular tiramisu! I followed the recipe with brandy and refrigerated for 6 hours. The cake layers were less soaked than I expected, but the flavor was perfectly balanced so I don’t feel doubling anything is necessary. The cake itself was delightfully light and airy. The frosting did become a teeny bit grainy after adding 1 tsp espresso extract, but was fine. I grated my leftover chocolate and pressed it against the cake sides in lieu of cocoa (bad memories of inhaling cocoa while eating a previous tiramisu). Tiramisu cake was the ideal ending to a cozy dinner party. Thank you for a lovely recipe!

  144. Staci

    I just made this for NYE and wow, delicious. I followed commenter advice and doubled the syrup and the filling/frosting. I split the halves to make a four layer cake, and used all the syrup. Also, I had instant coffee on hand (Whole Foods Brand) so I used that instead of espresso powder and got plenty of flavor. I used 3 tbsp instant coffee crystals to 4 tbsp hot water. I was also scared of my frosting separating by adding the coffee/liquor at the end, so I just added it in with the marscapone/sugar mixture at the befinning and it turned out perfectly. Of course that meant the filling and frosting were the same, but it was so absolutely delicious I can’t imagine it any other way. This cake was labor intensive but not difficult. So good. Thanks Deb. the only problem is I find myself only cooking from your recipes, my friends and family are starting to think I’ve lost it. Yet they never complain about all the delicious food they eat!

  145. Jen

    Should of read the reviews before I made this cake because the only recommendation I would have taken was to double if not triple the syrup that goes on cakes prior to frosting. It was very dry. But will make it again with the extra syrup

  146. Jena

    I did double the syrup (and with the leftovers actually dumped some cold coffee on it), but I did not use everything I had made in fear that it would be too sweet. The cakes were dense and dry, but not so much that anyone other than me cared. The flavor was fantastic and I felt like I had enough icing/ filling using only what the recipe requested.

    I used brandy as my alcohol, used the inside of a vanilla bean instead of extract, an actual shot of espresso instead of espresso extract. I used about 25 extra grams of marscapone as my tub was 250 grams, and my icing was super easy to work with and spread.

    We were watching the godfather with friends and cooking Italian American food to go with it, thus I cut out a horse head silhouette instead of the star. An appropriate number of laughs were received.

  147. Kelly

    I saved about 10 of your recipes after seeing your segment on the Today show this morning. My day has been wasted by staring at recipes and this was the first to make my mouth water from the deliciousness. Can’t wait to try.

  148. My most favourite dessert. I lived in Siena, Tuscany for a year.Very particular about my ‘pick me up’. Looks a good recipe, will certainly try it out.

  149. Leena

    Thank you so much for the recipe. I tried it yesterday for my husband’s birthday and he loved it. Totally delicious. I did use multigrain flour and olive oil for the cake instead of flour and butter. Came out well.. Will be trying more recipes soon!

  150. Zauber Jim

    This is one of my favorite cake recipes. I think I’ve made it four times already. (See my 2011 comment #154.)
    It’s a friends birthday coming up and I wanted to help his girlfriend make something incredible, so I suggested this. She said it looks complex. I said I’ve made it many times. The layers are already cooling on a wire rack. We’ll get the double portion of frosting and syrup going on Friday, the day of our little celebration. I’m planning on wrapping them up and tossing the cake layers into the freezer until then. I’ll have to poke around the internets to see about how to bring them back to room temperature.
    I’ve been off sugar for a month now–I could only break this sugar fast with something of this caliber of deliciousness.

  151. Annie

    I tried this recipe for my Dad’s 70th birthday cake – It was PERFECT! Mine turned out a little drier than I would have liked. Perhaps it was the cooking time (I did 28 mins), or perhaps it’s because I didn’t use up all the syrup. Regardless, everyone LOVED it. There are a lot of steps, but all of them are easy and manageable, perfect to make in advance too. Thanks for sharing a great recipe :)

  152. Laura

    I’m going to bake this cake for my birthday next week. Can I make the cake layers a week ahead of time and freeze them? Should I soak them in brandy before or after freezing?

    Looks amazing!

  153. Ellen

    This cake sounds fab , do you think it’ll freeze. I’d love to make a couple for my holiday party in advance and throw them in the freezer! Has anyone tried this?

  154. Angela H

    My husband is from Israel, and a few weeks back he had asked me to make him a Tiramisu cake. I asked him what it was as i have never heard of that kind of cake before. So my husband proceeded to show me pictures of them. Ive been putting it off for a while due to the fact i am terrified to make it. I love making specialty cakes of all kinds. But this one is new to me. I found your recipe it looks to be pretty simple to make. But i am still terrified it wont turn out right. Im willing to give it a try but my husband is very picky. Only thing is he wants one with wafers on the bottom?? Im good but not that good! Im really hoping this cake turns out the way he remembers it. thank you for sharing this recipe!

  155. Teodora

    I made it yesterday, just had a slice and it’s wonderful! It’s exactly my kind of cake, because I don’t like buttercream and I loved the mascarpone filling and frosting. The cake is sweet but not overly so and I loved that too. I baked the cake layers for 25 mins each and they turned out perfect. I am definitely buying Dorie’s book now :-)

  156. Liza

    Hi !

    I definitely want to make this. I already do the tiramisu non cake version with the lady finger cookies. But now was to make the cake. One question i do have is… If i wanted to make it in a square baking dish instead of the circular one like you have here… how would the measurements differ?

  157. Ruth

    Hi Deb!
    Would Marsala be okay to use instead of brandy? (We have three bottles of it in our liquor cabinet – I have no idea how it got there.) Love your site, I’m eternally grateful for your awesome recipes!

  158. sarah

    hi deb. i am always looking at your cake recipes, hoping to make them someday. but most of your recipes call for 2 nine inch pans, and i only have one 8″ pan. I don’t bake often so i don’t want to buy extra equipment.

    suddenly i had an idea to use a 6qt stainless steel cooking pot that is around 8″ !(it was too tall for a cake pan, but i just gave it a try) i can finally make your cake without any scaling down!

    sorry for the long story, but i just wanted to say, the cake is amazing! thank you for this recipe. and the stainless steel pot worked as a baking pan, perhaps even better than my original one.

    so, i am happy to say, with my extra “baking pan”i can start experimenting with your recipes now, and next stop —> your amazing chocolate cake!! i can’t wait!! thanks deb…

    1. deb

      Hi sarah — I don’t have two of most sizes, even now! So, I just bake half the batter at a time. It’s ideal, but it does make for cakes that matchy-match. But that’s a great hack! Thanks for sharing.

  159. Molly

    I’ve finally had an excuse to make this and I’m so sorry I waited so long! It was a mini-celebration so I halved the recipe and used 2 of my weird 7″ round cake pans. It was a bit short, but I made a 3/4 batch of the frosting/filling, so that helped plump it up some. I baked the cakes, brushed with syrup, froze several days, then frosted/assembled them a few hours before dessert. It worked great! Only thing, I wish I had saturated the cakes more. I’ve had tiramisu before with cakes that were so soggy it was unappealing, so I was hesitant to really soak the cakes. But I think this kind of cake can take/absorb more liquid than perhaps the standard lady finger variety. Next time, ALL the espresso, ALL the brandy, ALL the syrup! YES!!

  160. Lindsey

    My birthday is next week and I’ve got my heart set on this cake! One complication though: I have family members that don’t drink, not even when the alcohol is baked into a cake. Is there a good substitution for the Kahlua/brandy in the coffee syrup? I can always just add an extra tablespoon or two of water, but I was hoping you would have something more flavorful! Thanks!

  161. Kathy Holmes

    I have 2 questions:
    How tall should each 9 inch layer be? Mine are only 1 1/2 inches tall!
    How many servings typically?

    1. deb

      Kathy — 1 1/2 inches tall sounds about right. (Most layer cake pans are only 2 inches tall to begin with.) For servings, it will REALLY vary. Standard bakery servings will tell you it will make 8 to 10 wedges. I seriously don’t know any people that would eat a 1/8 wedge of such a massive cake and we can easily cut it into 12 to 16. But those slices are of course skinnier.

      Were this a wedding cake, they’d cut even more slices. Here are some diagrams that show how it could be cut into up to 30 slices by a pro.

  162. Here’s my feedback after making this yesterday AND reading all the comments here!

    1) I baked two 9″ layers. It came out of the oven really flat (barely an inch) so I decided not to slice it into four layers. This is probably my biggest mistake. In the future I would definitely slice it no matter how thin the layers look! The reason being the cake did end up too dry and cakey after all – even with the doubled syrup recipe.

    2) I doubled the syrup recipe but… I would recommend tripling it instead – especially for 4 layers!

    3) Doubled the frosting recipe and it was just right. The frosting turned out beautifully, no curdling whatsoever. I also used whipping cream (36%) instead of heavy cream.

    4) I used 4 tablespoons of instant coffee + 3 tablespoons of hot water for the espresso extract. It was strong enough!

    The flavours were excellent and I would definitely make it again. I’m sure it will be perfect once I’ve tackled the dry cake problem. Thanks Deb much love from Malaysia :)

  163. Havanna

    Thank goodness for you good people commenting with feedback. Without you I wouldn’t have known to make double the syrup, which was definitely required. I also used triple / quadruple the Kahlua to add a bit of a kick.

    My tip for this cake would be: don’t beat the mascarpone! The recipe does say ‘WHISK’ but in between beating the batter and whipping the cream it is easy to overlook that and enthusiastically beat the mascarpone too. (No? Just me?)

    If you do this you’ll be left with a thick runny cream that you cannot frost a cake with (but is delicious turned into an ice-cream) and you’ll have to run out in your pyjamas for another tub of mascarpone.

    However, gently whisking the mascarpone and then gently folding the very stiff cream into it works wonderfully. Also, don’t forget to do a crumb coat!

    The end.

  164. Gowri


    Today’s my boyfriend’s birthday and he LOVES — absolutely LOVES — tiramisu, so I’ve seriously been planning to make this for him for two years (I was abroad during his birthday last year — sad.)

    I don’t have ONE round cake pan let alone two, Lord only knows why, so I used my 8 x 8 to make two layers and then sliced it down so I could frost it more easily, which meant we ate cake scraps for breakfast. Can’t go wrong with breakfast cake scraps.

    I do wish I’d read the comments first, because I was very hesitant to put nearly as much liquid as will likely be necessary in the bottom layer — I was afraid it’d break upon being moved, and as a result I have a good quantity of extra syrup. The top layer, however, is fairly soaked through, as I got over myself in a hurry! So if the bottom layer is maybe dryer than it ought to be when I take it out of the fridge, I’ve nobody to blame but myself.

    Finally, owing to my general inability to read instructions like a normal human being, I think I accidentally managed to come across an alternative frosting method that makes for a very smooth and spreadable frosting (and a lovely espresso cream mousse … not that this was ever something I thought about, not at all). I made the frosting ahead of time last night because I hate having to fuss about doing too much on the baking day-of. I usually let cream-cheese-type things soften on the counter owing to a bad experience with a cream cheese glaze, but Mr. inadvertently refrigerated the mascarpone. I rather sadly beat together my cold mascarpone (without scolding the birthday boy!) with the icing sugar and double the liquor and actually some vanilla bean seeds, because I always forget to buy vanilla extract OR vodka to make my own when I’m out. Then, while lamenting the coldness and lumpiness of the mascarpone, I dumped that entire cup of heavy cream INTO the mascarpone mix. And then stared at it wondering how on earth that could possibly result, on its own, in an any way acceptable frosting. As it turns out, when you do it this way and beat the cold cream into firm peaks ALONGSIDE the mascarpone, you end up with an absolute dream of a frosting. Also, because I’d already done the espresso extract and it was quite cool, there was no curdling when I (again without reading instructions) mixed all of it into the frosting without separating it out for the filling first. (In fact, I only realized that you weren’t supposed to do that when I noticed Deb’s comment above about having a slightly different frosting and filling!)

    Then, I suspect because the frosting was refrigerated overnight, it spread over the cake just like a dream in the morning. I plan to use the remaining mini chocolate chips on the side before I dust the cake over with cocoa powder, and I’m HOPING that when we take it to his party later on, the frosting won’t melt off the sides in the sweltering car (I’ve only just learned that whipped frostings can be stabilized with a bit of gelatin or, I suspect, agar). I’ll just let him know that we need to have the car’s air conditioning running before I move the cake, though.

    Thanks for this amazing recipe!

  165. Ruthaliscious

    Hey Deb, I just want to say thanks so much for this recipe, I love making it almost as much as I love eating it. I live in Manchester, England, and bake for a few different coffee shops in my part of the city. This cake is a new favourite at all of them, along with your salted caramel brownies which people just can’t get enough of. They have earned me many new friends as well as a few quid, so thank you for all the inspiration xox

  166. caroline

    Hi Deb,

    What tips do you have for preventing mascarpone cream from breaking into an unattractive curdled mess? I swear the last three times I’ve tried it’s made me want to cry (whereas before I was just fine!). What’s going on?

    I made this cake for my mom’s birthday, and it was well received. I’m convinced I can make it better though.. :/

    Thank you!

    1. deb

      caroline — Mascarpone is a curd cheese — a very creamy one, but that’s the reason for the texture. Do you feel it’s breaking apart further than it would seem when scooped from the container?

  167. Rebecca

    I just made this for my MIL’s 70th birthday party and it looks delicious but the frosting never set up firm enough. I used cold cream, whipped it firm, gently folded in the mascarpone eye but it was no where near spreadable consistency. I think if I were to attempt this again I might use a stabilizer for the whipped cream(gelatin?) so that I could actually frost the cake. I wound up pouring it all on top and letting it hang over the sides and pray it will at least taste delicious.

  168. Kate

    I have had this recipe bookmarked for at least 5 years, meaning to make it for my tiramisu-loving father-in-law, but have been too intimidated by all the steps involved and the trouble comments. This weekend was the FIL’s 70th birthday, so I finally pulled on my big-girl pants and dove in. It came out great! I was a little surprised at how little the cake rounds rose (really not at all), but I had no trouble with the frosting. I will say that, after reading ALL the comments above, I did keep the frosting ingredients very cold until I put them together – I even popped the cream into the freezer and the espresso extract and cake rounds in the fridge for a bit before starting – as it is July and all. I also doubled the syrup recipe as other reviewers have mentioned. I didn’t end up using it all, as I was nervous about winding up with a squishy mess, but next time I will DEFINITELY soak it entirely in the stuff. It really made it moist and tiramisu-y, not squishy at all.
    Thank you so much for this recipe, and thank you for making something that seems so fussy accessible to a novice like myself!

  169. Sue B

    I am planning to make the cake layers this weekend and freeze so that later in the week I will just have to do icing and assemble. Do you recommend soaking the layers with syrup before freezing, or when removed and thawed?


  170. Krithika

    I’d like to make this for my birthday next week, I think it’s a great way to exercise my new stand mixer. I have a question though, should the mascarpone cheese be at room temperature? Should it be whipped by hand or combined using the whip attachment?

  171. Krithika

    Thank you for responding Deb! Made this for my birthday yesterday, it’s yum! I did double the syrup as many have suggested and the cake is wonderfully moist. I found the amount of filling/frosting to be just right. I was terrified all the way through making the frosting, I’ve not tried something so complicated before. But I was able to follow along easily and it came out very well! Light, fluffy, not overly sweet and pleasantly boozy. Thank you for a fabulous birthday cake recipe!

  172. Dominique

    So I did a bit of a Frankenstein version of this cake. As recommended in the comments of the Espresso Chiffon Cake, I used that recipe for the cake and syrup (but with brandy). However, I used this marscapone frosting (doubled it) for a triple layer cake. It was FANTASTIC! I made it for my boyfriend, who, whenever asked what I should make him, has replied “tiramisu”.

    Despite his numerous requests, I haven’t actually made him classic tiramisu, since I haven’t felt I found the right recipe. I wanted to ask you, Deb, if you had any classic tiramisu recipe recommendations?

    P.S. Your site is absolutely wonderful, it’s my go-to-site for recipes. I have made easily 70+ different recipes always with success. I deeply appreciate your attention to detail and thoughtfulness.

  173. Ashley

    I made this cake for my sister and brother in-law’s rehearsal dinner 2 years ago and it was an absolute hit!

    Fast-forward….a few weeks ago, I was asked to make 40 Tiramisu “shooters” for an Italian themed couples shower this weekend and as I was confident in answering ‘for sure!’, after researching, I am beginning to panic. So, I came back to my safe zone. And I’m reaching out for HELP! Have you attempted shooters before and do you have ANY recommendations?! I loved the way the cake turned out, so I’m wondering if I would be able to pull off mini versions (?)

    Thank you in advance!!

  174. Maria

    LOVED LOVED LOVED this cake. I made it for my friend who is a huge tiramisu fan and she loved it. It was absolutely dreamy!!! One of my layers was thicker so I sliced that one in half, making it into a three layer cake. I doubled the syrup and next time will be tripling it. Was nervous about the frosting being too soft but it came out perfect, didn’t have a problem with it at all. I DID use whipping cream though, instead of plain heavy. I decorated the bottom with lady fingers cut in half and chocolate covered coffee beans, alternative between both, making a nice lil pattern.
    The only problem I encountered was that the cake was kinda soft, maybe needing a couple more minutes of baking, and I thought it was gonna fall apart. But in the end everything came together amazingly!

  175. Kris

    I haven’t tasted a slice of the cake yet but it’s all ready in my fridge for tonight, and judging by the taste of the bit of leftover frosting I ate on a bit of cake scrap…it’s going to be delicious. I read the comments and followed some readers’ tips and had no problems!

    1. Espresso extract – I did not feel like scouring Montreal for this instant espresso thing, so I just made espresso in my stovetop espresso maker (sometimes called a moka pot) and used equal amounts of that.

    2. I followed commenters’ recommendations and made double the syrup, which gave me about 350mL total syrup (almost 1.5 cups). but i ended up not using about 50mL of it – it just seemed like a lot of syrup to be dousing the cake with. We’ll see once it’s tasted tonight!

    3. No problems with the frosting! I did what some others did and just added the espresso extract (or regular espresso in my case) to the mascarpone/sugar mix right away, and whisked until just combined. I whipped the cream until it was very stiff peaks, stiffer than I’d use if I was just serving it as a garnish. Then I folded it in to the mascarpone mix about 1/3 at a time (instead of doing 1/4, then the other 3/4 all at once as suggested in the recipe). It came together easily and I chilled it for an hour or so until I was ready to assemble the cake. Went on beautifully!

    4. In Canada we also find “heavy cream” and “whipping cream” in the grocery store as two separate products, both at 35% fat…I used whipping cream but I truly have no idea whether these two things are really different!

    5. I found the frosting was enough as written in the recipe and didn’t see the need to double it, but again the real test will be when we finally eat the cake.

    6. If you want the frosting to be perfect, you could do a crumb coat, but I found that just by going along fairly carefully I didn’t need one.

  176. Kaitie Noe

    Hi Deb! Have you ever made this and had the icing break on you? The taste was fantastic and the filling set up fine, but once I added the coffee extract to frost the outside of the cake, the texture liquefied and putting it in the fridge didn’t help. At first I thought perhaps I didn’t whip the cream enough, but I even tried whipping extra cream (extra stiffly) and folding it in, but it still liquefied over time. Should I have trained my mascarpone? Would more powdered sugar have helped? Thank you for your blog, it’s my very favorite!

      1. deb

        It’s been a few years since I made this (my loss, really) but I do remember that the frosting is slightly on the wet side. I certainly never drained my mascarpone. Did it all work out in the end?

  177. Elise V

    This was delightful, I followed your lead on using my own birthday as an excuse to work on my baking wishlist.

    Given some of the comments I was nervous the cake might be too dense, but I didn’t find it so. I used cake flour and a scale, if that makes a difference.

    Instead of espresso powder I used instant coffee powder. I also used a mix of mostly Kahlau, with some brandy.

  178. ok, so i have made this as cupcakes a couple times. very little needs to be changed, but:

    -i double both the frosting and the syrup; depending on how coffee-loving the audience is, i don’t always double the extract, though i recommend it.

    -average cook time is about 28-30 minutes for my oven, but i start at 20min and monitor.

    -using a 2tbsp dasher, it makes 25 cupcakes.

    -i soak the cupcake tops 6-7 times and that seems to be the best amount to make sure it soaks in, but doesn’t make the cake top soggy. fewer, and the cupcake is dry; more and it’s hard to frost.

    -i use a cupcake filling tip (wilton #230) to fill the cupcakes before adding the espresso syrup to the frosting; this is why it requires a double batch of icing. if you are not going to fill the cupcakes, you don’t have to double the frosting recipe.

    -i skip sifting the cocoa powder and opt to just shave some chocolate using a microplane onto the frosted cupcakes.

    here is where i would link the pictures of the cupcakes i just made, but i seem to have broken my flickr account. i will return with a photo.

    1. Thank you so much for the tips on the cupcakes! I fudged it a little to make an even batch of 24. I assume you hollow out the middle when you fill them? Trying this for a Valentine’s party today and love having pro tips in addition to Deb’s!

  179. shuffles

    Hi Deb!

    This is chilling in my fridge as we speak. Do you recommend serving it cold or bringing it to room temperature first?


  180. Cacula

    This is the best cake ive ever made. It was so good and a hit at my book club. I was worried the frosting was going to be too soft but it ended up being the perfect consistency. I have failed most times in trying to make a cake and this recipe worked great.

  181. Joanie Smith

    I’ll premis this comment by mentioning how much I love your website, Deb. However, I made this yesterday and was slightly disappointed. Should have doubled the mascarpone filling as some recommended. Overall the flavours were very good but it was too dry. Would also recommend using more of the espresso syrup as well. It was a lot more work than a basic tiramisu recipe and although it looked very nice (I made the star on top as well) it wasn’t worth the effort.

  182. bonnie

    Thank you to whoever said to double the syrup. Next time I’ll probably MORE than double the syrup to end up with both layers being moist and reminiscent of great tiramisu [not all that many] I’ve had in restaurants. Will probably increase the expresso extract as I barely had any left for the frosting once I made another batch of the syrup. The dryness of the bottom layer aside, it was great. Guests oohed and ahhed and I’m far more critical of my baking. It was time consuming but relatively easy. Flavor is supreme. I did not use cake flour but adjusted it by using corn starch in place of 1/4 flour. Will make again at some time. Will have to give some away as I’m left with half a cake which is too dangerous to leave around, even if I would only eat the top layer. I used brandy. This is still going in my recipes folder, tho.

  183. shuffles


    I know this was a forever ago recipe (and you’re on booktour!) so I’m unlikely to get a response but, I was wondering if you could “small batch” this as well? If so, would you make the full cake and then cut out individual rounds for ramekins, or prep them right in the ramekins? Thanks in advance – this is my absolute favorite full size cake to make for people’s birthdays!


  184. Arune

    Made this one few days ago. It has the best flavor! I used brandy as well. However, the sponge turned out pretty dense and greasy. I wouldn’t say I needed more time in the oven or something. I think next time I am going to use some kind of sponge with egg whites. Oh, I made double batch of icing as well.

  185. Lindsey

    Like some previous reviewers, I enjoyed this cake but thought there was far too little syrup. I recommend doubling or tripling the amount of syrup, and either pouring it over the cake while in the cake pan to soak for a few minutes, or dunking the cake in a tin full of the syrup. I baked the cakes the day before assembling, and found that the amount of syrup in this recipe just barely penetrated the top of each cake layer. I prefer a moister tiramisu, so the next day I just made more syrup and poured it all over the cake!

  186. Tian

    Beautiful cake. I will make it for Father’s Day. :) So you use chocolate shavings on the very top around the star), not cocoa powder? What do you think of using the latter?

  187. Maro Sevastopoulos

    I should have read through the comments, because I agree that there was too little syrup. the cake ended up pretty dry and flavorless and only a small portion soaked with syrup.

    I would definitely make it again, but add a bit of salt to the frosting to make it pop, and definitely at least double the syrup. maybe put a little more filling between layers, too, though i suspect that some soaked in like an icebox cake due to the drier layers.

    i used a mix of brandy & coffee rum, and that was really tasty.

    will definitely make again!

  188. Luciana

    I am going to make this for my (grown) daughter’s birthday. I’m Italian and love the idea of making a cake of one of our favourite desserts. I absolutely agree with you that bought tiramisu is never to my liking–either it hasn’t been soaked with enough Marsala, brandy and alcohol, leaving the sponge biscuits dry, or it doesn’t have enough bitter chocolate as a foil for the sweetness, or often times there is far too much cream with no enough soaked biscuits.

  189. Jay Suresh

    Hi Deb, from Reading the comments, the cake seems to be dense/hard. Wouldnt a genoise cake without butter work better in this recipe?


    1. deb

      Haven’t tested it but it’s possible. A firm cake was intentional here, I presume (it’s a Dorie Greenspan recipe) so it would absorb the syrup well without falling apart. A soft/moist cake won’t absorb without falling apart, usually. But I do think most people prefer it with more syrup.

  190. Jenn

    I made and LOVED this. After reading these comments (thank you all), I doubled the frosting, tripled the syrup, and doubled the exact (although I did not use all of the extract in the end). I also added a healthy sprinkling of salt to the frosting. With the syrup, I swapped out two tablespoons of the water for two extra tablespoons of rum. I would increase this even more next time, and up the coffee and rum I add to the syrup. The result was a moist, delicious cake that I will be making again as soon as I can find a reason.

  191. Donna

    I made this cake for my birthday and was disappointed. The buttermilk sponge is too dense and the soaking syrup did not moisten it enough. If I make this cake again, I will make hot-milk sponge layers or genoise layers instead. The filling and frosting, however, were very good.

  192. Rivka sanders

    This Tiramisu cake looks amazing (as do all the things you post. Thank goodness you cannot gain weight by just reading the posts…) I would love to try it but need it to be non dairy as I would like to serve it at a Shabbat lunch which will be a meat meal. Would something like Tofutti sour cream be able to be used instead of the buttermilk?

  193. Rivka sanders

    Just adding to what I posted before…I have made pareve versions of Tiramisu using non dairy whips and cream cheese, but because this recipe is already calling for heavy cream and marscapone just wondering about how the non dairy sour cream might work instead of the buttermilk. Obviously, cannot compare the real dairy taste, however, I have had decent results using the Tofutti type substitutes.

  194. chana

    I’ve been wanting to make this for a long time but was afraid it wouldn’t be as good as my favorite tiramisu and didn’t want to be disappointed. Then we decided to make it and hosted a meal in honor of the cake and it so lived up to the expectation and surpassed it. It was SO good. doubled the frosting and happy I did :)

  195. Masa

    I cannot for the life of me find instant espresso powder in any of my stores these days, only the espresso coffee – any way I could work with that?

  196. Juka

    We loved this cake. A big shout out to all the commenters!

    Here’s our modifications based on all the comments:

    1. Absolutely double the syrup. We also didn’t “brush” the syrup but poured it straight over both the cake layers. We also flipped the cakes to pour the syrup on both the sides of each cake. We love our tiramisu cake super moist and doubling and flipping and pouring the syrup on both the top and bottom of each layer got us that.

    2. Double the frosting. I made a batch as described in the recipe and used 1.25 cups as mentioned in between the layers. Alas, that did not leave us with enough frosting for the finished product. I ended up making another batch. Which was a blessing in disguise. My first batch had curdled, and my second didn’t, even with the exact same everything. I realized that with the first I hadn’t read the instructions minutely and had hand-whisked the mascarpone beyond the point of vanilla, sugar, alcohol, and mascarpone just being blended and smooth. It had actually curdled a bit. With the second batch, I was careful to hand-whisk only till the mixture blended and was smooth, and the whole frosting remained super smooth as a result (even after I added the coffee extract to it). (I also used sweet marsala! Super yum!)

    We microplaned some chocolate on the top. Friends and family loved it, and went for second helpings!

    1. deb

      This cake is on the sturdier side, because it gets soaked. A soft cake will fall apart under a soak like this. It should be very dense, but it will be more firm than a plush layer cake.

  197. Abe

    Hello, how long do you think this will keep in the fridge? I would love to make this for Christmas Day, but there is just two of us. I don’t want to waste it. Thanks for your time!

  198. Ariel

    I made this. I had such high hopes. It was meh. Definitely could have doubled the syrup — seems hard to believe when you are putting it on, but the cake is so dense.

  199. Tea

    The coffee flavor is out of this world. However, it took so long to make and involved so many dishes I would only make it for my nearest and dearest. Mind you, I doubled the recipe so I could have one 9″ circle cake and 2 smaller rectangular ones, all 2 layered. I found the cake to be a bit dense. Deb’s photo is consistent with how mine turned out, as in it’s not fluffy and tall. Maybe it needs heft to support the coffee soak. The silicon brush doesn’t carry enough liquid to apply the coffee effectively; a bristle brush might do a better job. The recipe for the mascarpone frosting alone is worth trying on a chocolate cake base. Thanks, Deb!

  200. I am building a list of cake recipes so my friends around the country can have a piece of cake at my zoom 50th bday party. I have always loved this cake in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, and I wanted to see how this adaptation compared. This is Dorie’s recipe, word for word.

  201. marne

    I made this gluten-free, using cup4cup flour. Some notes: making and assembling all the different components was a massive amount of work. If you soak the cake well enough for it to be satisfyingly soaked, it will not have the structural integrity a multi-layered cake requires. You will need to double or triple the amount of syrup; I did not and found that the cake was too dry and the flavor wasn’t coffee-y enough. (My solution was that when I sliced the cake, I spooned cold espresso over each slice.), If I make this recipe again in the future, I’ll bake the cake, let it cool, and then tear it into chunks and layer it like a parfait in single-serving cups, but honestly I think next time that if I want a cake, I’ll make a cake, and if I want tiramisu, I’ll make tiramisu. Note: I served this cake to three adults who all thought it was excellent; I, the baker, am the only person who had notes lol

  202. Kala

    I plan on making this today. I’m doubling up as the syrup as suggested by so many here. However, if I use a cup of water do I need to add two thirds cup of sugar or could I get away with less? Thank you in advance

  203. I just finished making this beautiful tiramisu cake. The process went so smoothly, and the cake looked beautiful up until the very last step. When I added the espresso extract to the remaining marscarpone filling with which to frost the cake, the mixture curdled! The texture of the cream was no longer smooth. What happened???

  204. Sandra

    I made it this weekend for my cousin’s birthday! I doubled the syrup and the icing, which was the right amount. I did not have 9 inch round pans, so I took 2 8 inches pans and a third one, about 5 inches round. I ended up with a higher mushroom shaped tiramisu cake. It was a complete success, a complete delish. It was soooooooooooo good that we decide to celebrate my birthday that night too! So it was completely legitmate to take a second piece! It is a really really good cake! If you want to be re-invited somewhere, that is the cake to do!!! :o)

  205. Amy K

    I made this cake yesterday and it was delicious. I followed the recipe to the letter, and used brandy per Deb’s recommendation. My only teeny tiny quibble is that I could have used a wee bit more of the espresso syrup. When I make this again, I might increase it by 1/4 C or so. Having said that, the person I made it for said it was perfect. Thanks, Deb; your recipes are always spot on!