Chocolate Tiramisu Cake

Chocolate Tiramisu Cake | Sarah Kieffer | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Cake is my downfall.
I can refuse
a glass of wine,
push away
an opened box
of handmade chocolates,
spurn a toffee from the tin
and turn my nose up
at a HobNob,
but I can never,
ever resist
a slice of cake.
-Nigel Slater
Chocolate Tiramisu Cake | Sarah Kieffer | The Vanilla Bean Blog

Layered Cookbook By Tess Huff | Photo By Sarah Kieffer
I have to agree with Mr. Slater; it’s hard to say no to a good piece of cake. I recently received Tessa Huff’s (Style Sweet CA) new cookbook Layered, which is packed full of every kind of layer cake you can imagine, plus baking and decorating tips and techniques. It’s beautifully photographed, with both classic and inventive cake recipes. I mixed and matched two recipes from Tessa’s book to come up with this Chocolate Tiramisu Cake, but next on my list are the Lemony Carrot Cake, Riesling Rhubarb Crisp Cake, and Banana Cream Cake.

Chocolate Tiramisu Cake | Sarah Kieffer | The Vanilla Bean Blog
Chocolate Tiramisu Cake

Adapted from Layered by Tessa Huff

A few notes: I made this into a ‘mini’ cake, and used three 6-inch cake pans (the leftover batter I baked into cupcakes). I didn’t have instant espresso powder for the rum-espresso soak, so instead I used 1/4 cup of fresh brewed coffee in place of the 1/4 cup water, and boiled the coffee with the sugar.

2½ cups (315g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (95g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150ml) grapeseed oil (canola oil will work, too)
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1½ cups (375ml) whole milk
1 cup (250ml) hot strong-brewed coffee (boiled water will work, too)

Rum-Espresso Soak
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/4 cup (60ml) dark rum

Mascarpone Buttercream
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150ml) large egg whites (about 5 large egg whites)
1 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks/340g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
3/4 cup (180ml) mascarpone, softenend
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cake
Grease and flour two 8-inch (20-cm) cake pans. Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together the oil and sugar on medium for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, yolk, and vanilla and beat on low until combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, stream in the coffee. Mix on medium-low until combined, about 30 seconds.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the rum-espresso soak
While the cakes are cooling in their pans, combine the sugar, espresso powder, and 1/4 cup (60ml) water in a saucepan. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum. Let the liquid cool slightly before use, about 5 minutes.

For the mascarpone buttercream
Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.

Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160F (70C) on a candy thermometer or is hot to the touch. Once hot, carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.

With the whisk attachment, beat the egg mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping from the meringue. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, a few cubes at a time. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3-5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add in the mascarpone, rum, and vanilla. Mix until combined.

To assemble the cake
Brush each of the cooled cakes with the rum-espresso soak (you may want to put a piece of parchment paper under the wire rack to catch any drips). Put a layer on a turntable or serving dish top side up, and spread 1/2 cup (120ml) of the buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake (top side down) and frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Finish with a blanket of chocolate curls, if desired.
Slice of Chocolate Tiramisu Cake | Sarah Kieffer | The Vanilla Bean Blog tiramisu cake
Gold-rimmed plate and gold flatware are from Canvas Home Store.

  • Reply
    Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 1:41 am

    Hi there! Was wondering if I could get 4 6-inch layers, or should I halve the recipe for that.

  • Reply
    Dolce Vita
    Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    Just love and adore. You are so creative! Just when I thought tiramisu already perfect as is

  • Reply
    Banh Tiramisu
    Monday, August 14, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    This cake is absolutely amazing, what a showstopper! I can’t stop looking at these pictures and wishing I had a big slice right now just for myself.


  • Reply
    Monday, July 10, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    I am totally baking this cake for my husband’s birthday this week. I don’t really want to do the rum soak since I’m expecting and our daughters will be eating it too. Is there a substitution you can recommend? I’ve seen rum extract although some contain alcohol too and are not carried in most markets near me and I’ve seen apple or pineapple juice combined with water though I’m worried they would change the flavor.

  • Reply
    Monday, July 10, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Hi there,
    What temperature do you bake the cake at? I just realized that 1-I forgot to preheat the oven, and 2-now that I have two cake pans filled, I don’t know what temp to quickly preheat and bake them at!

    • Reply
      Monday, July 10, 2017 at 10:52 am

      I’m so sorry about that! The oven temp is 350F.

  • Reply
    Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 10:15 am

    this is beautiful! what would you recommend if i needed to make it the day before? is it okay since the layers will be soaked?

  • Reply
    Kylie Perry
    Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 4:02 am

    Yummy! I would love to have one now. Just can’t resists without desserts.

  • Reply
    Melissa@Julia's Bookbag
    Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 1:52 am

    Banana cream cake? Oh PLEASE make that one next!!!

  • Reply
    Abby | Lace & Lilacs
    Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 7:58 am

    Too stunning, Sarah. Beautiful. <3

  • Reply
    Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    This cake is absolutely amazing, what a showstopper! I can’t stop looking at these pictures and wishing I had a big slice right now just for myself.

    Perfect decoration, so gorgeous! 🙂


  • Reply
    Sarah @ SnixyKitchen
    Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    This cake turned out beautifully! I love the chocolate tiramisu combo!

  • Reply
    Tessa Huff
    Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you, Sarah! I love how this turned out soooo much. The mix of flavors sound incredible!!! I really appreciate all of the support xoxox

  • Reply
    Linda Mueller
    Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Tiramisu, my very favorite cake, which I have made from scratch a few times, may just have a rival! I love your inventiveness!
    Beautiful, delicate photography, as usual.
    ?? Vanilla Bean

  • Reply
    Victoria Pease
    Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 4:05 am

    I love a mini cake, there is just something so wonderful about pouring time and love into something so small and delicate! This is seriously beautiful, stunning pictures and I love the idea of tiramisu as cake!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    What a beautiful cake! I love how dark that chocolate is!

  • Reply
    Sarah | Well and Full
    Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    What a beautiful cake! You’ve done the frosting so perfectly, too! I can never get mine to turn out that even 😉

  • Reply
    Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 11:41 am

    This cake is beautiful. I am crushing on that buttercream sooooo hard!! Just a lovely flavour.

  • Reply
    Sara @ Cake Over Steak
    Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 11:06 am

    OMG DREAM CAKE. I really need this book. Also, I totally can’t turn down cake either (unless it’s crappy cake from the grocery store with that overly-sweet frosting).

  • Reply
    heather (delicious not gorgeous)
    Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 10:59 am

    for the longest time i was convinced i hated tiramisu- too soggy, too alcoholic, not chocolatey enough. but i recently had an amazing one, and now i want everything tiramisu-flavored (so this sounds amazing!). also happy that you picked something besides the earl grey/london fog cake that everyone seems to be making from the book.

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