This weekend was full of birthday celebrations and C-A-K-E! We celebrated Grandpa-in-Law’s 76th, Dad-in-Law’s 47th, and through a long-distance call wished Dad’s a happy big 5-0! Let’s sing together now, 1-2-3 “Cumpleaños feliz, te deseamos a ti…” “Happy Birthday to you…”
One of the great things I love about this month and the ones to come, is I not only have many many birthday occasions to bake, but also the anticipation of great holiday bake-a-thons..Thanksgiving, Christmas, cookie exchanges at church, etc. What a lovely time of year, no?
On Saturday Husband and I joined the family to celebrate Grandpa-in-Law’s birthday at a lovely reserve in the mountains. Due to the altitude and climate of that region, rain comes and goes as it pleases, making reservations a task only for the braveand faithful. Fortunately, we had a great time together despite more rain than sun, and were able to enjoy la naturaleza in all its glory- flowers, trees, fresh mountain air, and of course, the playground and hiking trails.
We also enjoyed the tiramisu cake. Oh yes! I wish I’d made an extra to keep around the house for Husband and I. It was a dream of a “pick me up” as it’s referred to in Italian. Two spongy layers of moist vanilla-almond cake drenched in espresso syrup, filled and frosted with coffee cheesy luxury, layered with a sheet of rich chocolate chips. What’s not to love? It’s even better after resting one day in the fridge.
I opted to create my own cake layers, but stuck with Dorie Greenspan’s basic filling, soaking syrup, and frosting recipes and techniques. This cake was a hit, even though I made it more rustic looking than the family was accustomed to. (Where we live, bakeries always “dolly up” the cakes with eccentric fruit arrangements, whipped cream shell patterns, chocolate drizzle, etc…Embellishments that cannot really improve yum factor of most of the artificially flavored cakes, but surely is attractive.)
Jot this link as a MUST and bump it up to the top of your cake list. Tiramisu cake is the way to go when you’re craving the elegant Italian dessert in a flash. No ladyfingers to pipe, no worries about limp cookie breakeage, just a simple bake, soak, fill, and frost; zippy, and incredibly impressive. This cake has only a slight coffee undertone that is paired perfectly with the sweet tang of the cream cheese frosting and filling. The chocolate flavor comes through like a melodious harmony.
Yields an 8-9″ double layered cake
2 1/2c. AP flour
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. shortening
1/4 c. margarine
1 c. milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
Combine dry ingredients in a mixer bowl. Add shortening, margarine, milk, and extracts. Attach flat beater and mix on low 1 minute. Scrape bowl, add eggs, and mix to combine. Beat one additional minute.
Pour batter into two greased and floured 8 or 9 inche round baking pans. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans and then remove to cool completely on wire rack.
2 tbs. instant espresso powder
2 tbs. boiling water
½ cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbs. amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy
Filling and frosting:
1 8-oz. container mascarpone cheese
½ cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbs. amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 ½ oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about ½ cup store bought mini chocolate chips
Chocolate covered espresso beans, for decoration (optional)
Cocoa powder, for dusting
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 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur or brandy; set aside.
To make the filling and frosting: Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, liqueur, and 2T. espresso syrup 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.
Place the bottom cake layer on a plate and brush with 1/3 of the espresso syrup. Top with about 1 1/2 c. filling and sprinkle chocolate atop.
Brush half of the remaining syrup on the top cake layer. Flip cake upside down onto the filling and soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup. Frost as desired. Refrigerate overnight for flavors to meld. Right before serving, sprinkle with cocoa powder. Dig in!