Tiramisu Cake

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. My brother cooked a delicious spicy beef stir-fry and I made the cake. It couldn't be just any cake though. It had to be special. So I made one of her favorites in the form of a cake: tiramisu!

This idea is actually a blend of wisdom from Smitten Kitchen. I read the reviews for the espresso and tiramisu cake and decided to merge them. I took the Chiffon cake and it's syrup, made some minor adaptations, and married it with the filling/frosting of the tiramisu cake. The result? Success!

After eating the cake, I asked for critique. My brother said "more filling!!" because he loves sweet cheeses. My personal thought, douse this baby in the syrup. I had some left over because I didn't wanna over do it but trust me- the chiffon can take it. Poke some holes with a tooth pick if you want to really get it in there. The boyfriend suggested crushing chocolate covered espresso beans and sprinkling in between the layers with the chocolate chips.

Note: This recipe requires 1/3 cup plus an additional 8 tablespoons of espresso. From what I read, the instant stuff can be a bit bitter. I passed a drive-through Starbucks on the way home and asked for 8 shots of espresso. I had a little left over, but better safe than sorry.

There are three parts to this recipe, so pay attention:
1. The cake
2. The syrup
3. The frosting/filling

Cake:

Makes an 8- or 9-inch triple-layer cake

1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as soybean, canola or vegetable blend
6 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons freshly brewed espresso, cooled to room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Syrup:

1/3 cup hot, freshly brewed espresso
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy

Frosting/Filling:

1 8-ounce container mascarpone
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy
1 cup cold heavy cream
About 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

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

Preheat to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with rounds of parchment or waxed paper, but do not grease.

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, egg yolks, espresso and vanilla; whisk lightly to blend. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.

In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixture, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium-low speed until frothy. Raise the speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining half cup of sugar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form; do not whip until stiff or the cake will shirk excessively upon cooling.

Add the espresso-egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together just enough to combine. Add one-fourth of the beaten egg whites and fold them in to lighten the batter. Fold in the remainder of the whites just until no streaks remain. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.

Bake the cakes for about 18 minutes each, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pans. When cooled, run a blunt knife around the edge of the pans to release the cakes. Invert onto wire racks and remove the paper liners.

For the Syrup.... In a bowl, stir together the espresso and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the booze of your choice and let cool to room temperature.

For the Filling/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. When you do fill the layers of the cake- remember to leave enough for the frosting!

To assemble.... place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Soak the cake with 1/3 cup of the Syrup. Spread about 1 1/3 cups of the marscapone Filling evenly over the top of the layer. Repeat with the next layer, more syrup and more frosting. Finally, top with the third layer. Soak it with the remaining syrup.
For the frosting, whisk 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining cooled espresso into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much espresso 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. This will give the frosting a slight brown color. Frost the rest of the cake.

Refrigerate over night or at least 3 hours so everything can come together.