Sunday Dinner

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   Whenever I would go to an Italian restaurant, I would always order the Tiramisù on the menu.  Most of the time I would be disappointed.  It was either too soggy, had too much rum, had overpowering Marsala, or was just not that good.  But about 6 years ago, I did come across a Tiramisù that I fell in love with.  There was just one problem--it was 3 hours away.   It was time to recreate that Tiramisù so I could enjoy it any time of the year.  

   I had always heard that Williams-Sonoma had a great Tiramisù, but I had never tried it.  I searched online and came across this site.  There I found the recipe for W-S Tiramisù.   The only thing was it had rum in it and I knew I did not want rum.  So, what is the next best liquor that pairs well with chocolate and coffee?  Kahlúa--that was the ticket!

I used to make it with ladyfingers, but when my supermarket stopped carrying the brand that I liked, I started making my own European Sponge Cake.  I have to say that I like it much better.

 It is best to make this dessert at least a day in advance--or preferably 2 days,  so that the syrup soaks into the sponge cake nicely.  Making your own Tiramisù is a little labor intensive, but the results are just heavenly. 

serves 12-16

For the Sponge Cake
1 cup + 2 tablespoons cake flour, sifted
6 extra large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 extra large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup granulated sugar

For the Filling
3 extra large egg yolks
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 oz Marscarpone cheese
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 extra large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 heaping tablespoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon Kahlúa
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Cocoa powder for dusting

For the Sponge Cake
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.  Line a 9 1/2-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the yolks,  1/4 cup sugar and vanilla.  Beat in high speed until thick and pale yellow, 2-3 minutes.  Scrape into a large bowl and sift the flour evenly over the top, but do not mix in.  

Clean and dry the bowl of the stand mixer.  Add the egg whites and cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the 1 /3 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.  Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/2 the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.  Fold in the remaining whites.  Gently fold until no streaks remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top using an offset spatula.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly pressed.  Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.  Slide a thin knife around the cake.  Remove the sides of the pan.  Gently invert the cake to peel the parchment paper and place on a rack right side up to cool completely.  (I make the sponge cake the day before I assemble the Tiramisù and wrap it in plastic wrap overnight)

For the Filling

In a small bowl, dissolve the tablespoon of sugar and espresso in the warm water.  Stir in the Kahlúa and set aside.

Fill a small saucepan with about 1-inch of water.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the yolks and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water.  Using a whisk, beat the mixture until is pale yellow and thick ribbons fall from the whisk, about 4-5 minutes.

Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the mascarpone and beat until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the chilled cream and beat until stiff peaks.  Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the espresso mixture.  Gently fold to combine.

In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.  With a rubber spatula, gently fold the mascarpone mixture unto the cream until blended and smooth.  Fold in half the beaten egg whites.  Add the remaining egg whites and fold until the mixture is smooth and no streaks remain.

Slice the cake horizontally in half.  Return 1 half to the bottom of the cleaned spring form pan.   Drizzle half the espresso mixture over the cake.  Spread half the mascarpone cream over the soaked cake, spreading evenly.  Place the other half of the cake over the mascarpone and drizzle the remaining espresso mixture.  Spread the remaining mascarpone cream over the soaked cake and smooth the top using an offset spatula.  Dust the Tiramisù with cocoa powder.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours preferably overnight before serving.  Enjoy!

Source: Cake adapted from here and filling adapted from here


  1. The cake looks fantastic! What is Sugo?

  2. Erin-
    Sugo is Italian for gravy/sauce. I can't wait to share this recipe...so good!

  3. Your Dad and I just returned from sharing your beautiful Sunday dinner with you and your family. What a treat! The food was the perfect centerpiece for the laughter, music, fun and games that went along with the evening. Each course was outstanding. I loved hearing all of the exclamations as each course was served. Your grande finale, the tiramisu, was as delicious as it was beautiful. Thank you for such a special evening.

  4. Thanks, Mom! Leftovers are already in lunch boxes, but the memories always remain.

  5. Another great menu! What an elegant tiramisú.

  6. Gorgeous tiramisu! I would love to make this in my trifle bowl! Do you think there would be any advantage in making the cake the day before and letting it sit out to get "stale" like a crispy ladyfinger?

  7. Bonoca-
    I do make the cake a day before assembling the Tiramisù. I wrap mine in plastic wrap instead of letting it sit out. I have never tried to "stale" the cake because I enjoy the tenderness. You can certainly give it a try. Let me know how it turns out if you do:)

  8. Most tiramisus i come across are shapeless and spooned out of its serving dish. Not only is Yours slice-able, it also looks very beautiful and neat. I love it!

  9. I love that you make your own sponge cake -- and that the tiramisu looks like a normal cake. Tiramisu is arguably my favorite dessert. You are so impressive to make this in addition to other components of the meal.

  10. Alicia and Wilson-
    For me--It is worth it to make my own sponge cake. I make it ahead of time so it is a great way to use my time management skills. I love cooking all the components of the meal. It makes the house smell so good. Stayed tuned for the Mixed Anipasto. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it!

  11. I can never get enough of tiramisu. The exquisite coffee flavor plus all that wonderful creamy mascarpone makes it just an ideal way to end a meal.

  12. Carolyn-
    I agree. Coffee, cake, creamy mousse all layered and finished with cocoa--pure heaven.

  13. This is beautiful! I'm going to attempt making it on Friday night and finish it on Saturday morning for my Nanny's 75th birthday.

  14. Would love to make this, but I can't find espresso powder. Help?

    1. You can substitute the water and espresso powder with strong coffee.

  15. AnonymousMay 28, 2012

    Question, when you say "sifted" in the amount of flour, do we sift first and then measure or measure first and then sift what we have measured out? Thank you :-)

  16. What can I substitute for the alcohol?


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