Friday, August 26, 2011

Celebrate with a Genoise Tiramisu Cake

I love coffee!  Anyone who knows me can probably vouch for me saying that I have a slight addiction ... ok maybe slight is an understatement.  Since I love coffee, I love anything with a coffee flavor.  Coming from an Italian background, there are many desserts that are coffee inspired ... such as Tiramisu.  However, I have never tried it.  Shocker, I know.  My mother does not like Tiramisu, so naturally, because I look up to her, I never tried it.

A little over a month ago, I was asked to bake the wedding cake for a couple.  It was a small wedding, about 60 people, so nothing over the top, and they knew that they wanted a Tiramisu cake.  The kicker was that they don't like Tiramisu, either!  So they left it up to me to use my best judgment to get the flavor without the actual cake.  Great ...

So, I immediately started racking my brain on how to make a Tiramisu inspired cake.  I did research on what comprised an actual Tiramisu cake ... and the key ingredients are Lady Fingers and mascarpone ... ummm, awesome two things that I have never had.  More research .... then bam!  A sponge cake idea popped into my head.

Long story short, the sponge cake absorbed too much of the coffee/kahlua syrup I made, resulting in a semi mushy cake (too similar to the lady fingers).  Back to the drawing board.  We finally settled on a Genoise cake, which is a type of sponge cake but drier and more sturdy.  Now that the cake part was settled and the coffee flavor was spot on, I was ready to go.

Side Note:  Has anyone tried to bake a 16" cake before?  I had not attempted one before this and was totally at the mercy of luck.  The pan is huge!!  And not to mention the fact that I needed to get a heating core and baking strips for even baking.  God Bless the Little Bits Shop!!  There is no way to avoid spending the money on a good heating core, but there is a very cheap way to get perfect baking strips for your cake:

Take old towels and cut strips to fit twice around our pan.  Soak them in water and then wrap them around the pan and pin together (make sure they are soaking wet - do not wring them out!).  Then immediately put the pan in the oven.  It acts just like the baking strips would - but free!!

Ok, time to explain the cake!  The Genoise cake is very dry by itself, but is a great vehicle to any syrup - whether it be a fruit compote or syrup, the coffee/kahlua one I used, etc.  I poked holes all over the top of the cake with a toothpick so the syrup soaked into the cake.  It creates a marbled look when you cut a slice, so pretty!!  My father gave me the recipe from when he was in Culinary School.  It is very simple and easy to make, but it takes time and you should really use a scale for the measurements.

The filling is TO DIE FOR!  The mascarpone (which is one of my new favorite cheeses/spreads/ingredient) coffee/kahlua filling is a perfect combination of deliciousness.  I am speechless just thinking about it.  It is light, smooth and creamy from the mascarpone and kahlua but has that coffee kick from the instant espresso.  I could eat that like people eat raw cookie dough :)

The frosting was the white chocolate buttercream frosting from my first post.  Because the cake and filling have little sugar, the sweetness from the frosting is a perfect compliment to the cake.

It is best served a day later because it gives time for the flavors to meld together into perfect harmony.

The following recipe is for only one 8" or 9" cake.  You will have to double the cake recipe for a layer cake, but you do not have to double the filling recipe (under "Tiramisu Ingredients").  Enjoy!!

Tiramisu Cake
(Genoise Cake base)

Cake Ingredients (makes only one cake):

5 eggs room temperature
5 oz. sugar (sifted)
5 oz. cake flour (sifted 2 or 3 times)
1 oz. butter (melted and cooled)
½ tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350* and grease pan (8” or 9”) with spray and flour.

Melt the butter and let cool.  Weigh and sift sugar into a large bowl - combine with the eggs.

Weigh and sift the flour into a small bowl.

Over a double boiler, stir the eggs and sugar until the mixture is warm and becomes a thinner consistency.  Remove from the double boiler and with a hand mixer, beat on high speed for 8-10 minutes until the mixture has tripled, is pale yellow and a thick consistency.  Beat on low for about 3 minutes until the mixture is firm – ribbon stage.

Sift the flour in thirds into the mixture.  Between each sifted addition, fold the flour into the mixture using a spatula.  Once the flour is folded in, add the vanilla and butter, and fold into the mixture. 

Once all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, pour into the prepared pan and bake for 22 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.  Let sit in pan until slightly cool and then remove.

Tiramisu Ingredients:

Espresso Extract:
2 T. instant espresso powder
2 T. boiling water

Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup and set aside.

Espresso Syrup:
½ cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2 T. Kahlua

Combine the water and sugar in a small pan and bring just to a boil.  Pour the syrup into a small bowl and stir in 1 T. of the espresso extract and 1 T. Kahlua

Mascarpone Filling:
1 - 8 oz. container Mascarpone (Bel Giosio brand)
½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. Kahlua
1 cup cold heavy cream

In a medium bowl, combine the mascarpone, 10x sugar, vanilla, and Kahlua until smooth.
Using a stand mixer, beat the cold heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold in one third of the whipped cream into the filling with a spatula.  Once incorporated, fold in the rest of the whipped cream.  Set in the fridge while preparing the cakes.

Assembling the cake:

Place one cake layer right side up on the cake plate.  Poke holes along the top of the cake with a toothpick.  Pour or brush (pastry brush) half of the espresso extract onto the cake.  Smooth the mascarpone filling on the cake.

Place the other cake layer (top side down) on the cake, poke holes along the top of the cake, and pour/ brush the remaining espresso extract on the cake.  Set in the fridge while preparing the frosting.

White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

½ cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
½ cup white chocolate chips
Half and half

Over a double boiler, combine the white chocolate chips and the half and half (quick pour into the bowl to heat with the chips) and stir until melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool.

Cream the butter and vanilla. Then slowly incorporate the sifted 10x sugar, beating well between each addition.

Pour in the white chocolate and beat well.

If desired, sift a light coating of cocoa powder over the finished, frosted cake.

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