Pick Me Up aka, the Tiramisu

I went out for a snack with a friend last week. I ordered a ham and cheese croissant and she ordered a tiramisu. The croissant wasn’t mind blowing superb, but her tiramisu looked and tasted divine. Unlike most tiramisus, this one was more creamy and cheesecake like, as opposed to the light and airy texture of cream in traditional tiramisus. Something else about this one was it used a different kind of thin sponge cake, where the traditional calls for ladyfingers to be soaked in coffee. After tasting this, I set off to find a recipe to replicate.

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Oh. My. Goodness. Making a tiramisu is both hard and easy at the same time. It’s hard in the sense that you have many different components to prep beforehand and to get them to work together cohesively, but it was easy in the sense where once everything is prepped and ready, all that needs to be done is the assembly. I decided to use a recipe that made a sponge cake instead of ladyfingers because because I don’t like it when you can see the bump of each cookie in the tiramisu. Because the recipe and method to make sponge cake and ladyfingers are extremely similar, it was just a “might as well” moment.

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I always love watching egg whites get whipped with sugar. This process is the same as when macarons are made, only the egg to sugar proportions are different. There is some kind of science to the egg whites becoming soft, medium, or stiff peaks. I don’t know what the chemistry is, go ask a chemist. All I know is that as soon as it becomes stiff and can stand on its own when put upside down, its ready to use!

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There were so many steps of double broiling, whipping, folding, sifting, that my head spun around dizzy. Of course, it would have been a whole lot easier if I had just gone and bought some ladyfingers, but I didn’t wanna do it that way. So to make the sponge cake, it involved some more broiling and whipping and folding and sifting until I went crazy.

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FINALLY, after all the components have been made and cooled, I started assembling everything! I was worried at first that the sponge cake had slightly dried out because I made it in the morning, but in the end, the dryness of it turned out much better because just as the ladyfingers are dry, it is easier for it to absorb the coffee and mascarpone cream.

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To finish, I topped the tiramisu with a chocolate ganache, and set it in the fridge overnight to set. I wish I had put in a little more whipping cream so the chocolate would be more “oozy” when eating, but whatevs, it works just fine! Sprinkled on some more cocoa powder, and it’s ready to eat!

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makes 6-8 individual mini cakes, or one cake

Recipe adapted from this website

Sponge cake:

4 eggs, separated

2/3 c sugar

1/4 c hot brewed espresso

1 c all purpose flour

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan. In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add in 1/3 cup of sugar until it reaches stiff peak, set aside. In another mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, remaining sugar, and hot espresso. Whip until it has thickened up and has lightened in color. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the egg whites. Sift the flour and salt and fold until completely combined. Spread evenly onto the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until it springs back lightly. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Mascarpone filling:

4 egg yolks

1/4 c sugar

1/4 c coffee

pinch of salt

3/4 c mascarpone

1/2 c heavy cream

Prepare an ice bath and set aside. On a double broiler, whist together the egg yolks, sugar, coffee, and salt until it has thickened. It can take a while so I hope you have strong arm muscles. You will know that it is ready when you scrape the bottom of the bowl and it doesn’t immediately fill back. Place the bowl in the ice bath and occasionally stir until the mixture is completely cooled. While it is cooling, take the mascarpone and heavy cream and whip until it holds a stiff peak. Do not over beat it as it can get ugly. Once the egg yolk mixture is completely cool, fold it into the mascarpone mixture until combined. If it appears to be getting too runny, place it in a refrigerator to firm up. Once it is cold, transfer into a piping bag, or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.


1 c of strong coffee

Additional cocoa for dusting

Chocolate ganache (optional)

To assemble, I used short PVC pipes as a mold, and white transparencies to keep it all together. I cut the transparencies to fit the mold, and used a piece of tape to stick the sides together. I then used a glass cup that happened to cut the perfect size for the cakes to fit into the mold. If you are making 6 cakes, then cut out 18. If you are making 8, cut out 24. It all depends on the diameter of your cakes, but just make sure each individual cake can have three layers. Once all the cakes have been cut out, you can start layering.

First goes the cake on the very bottom. Then use a brush to coat the top of the cake with coffee. You want to get enough coffee on where the cake will absorb the flavor, but be careful that you do not soak the cake, as it will get mushy. Then dust with cocoa powder, and pipe the mascarpone filling on top. Then repeat the process. Cake, coffee, cocoa, and mascarpone filling. Once you place the third cake on, you want to do the coffee, cocoa, and what I did was I poured some chocolate ganache over until it covered the top. If you don’t want to use the chocolate ganache, you can just top it off with cocoa and be done. Set it in the fridge overnight so all the flavors can get absorbed. The next morning, you can remove the molds and plastic, dust off with some more cocoa, and enjoy!

One thought on “Pick Me Up aka, the Tiramisu

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