In Italian, tiramisu means “pick me up.” The reason? Despite the ultra rich ingredients used to make this dessert, the finished product is exceptionally light. Traditionally you would use baked lady finger cookies, drench them in some high quality espresso (and rum if you wanna get real festive), then layered with whipped cream and mascarpone frosting.

However, I tend to deviate from the traditional lady finger method because doing so would limit the shape of the cake to a square or rectangle since I’d have to align the cookies in a baking pan. I like a pretty round and even layered cake so I recreate the tender cake texture of the lady fingers by using a classic chiffon recipe. Works like a charm every time. The cake always turns out fluffy which is a sure indication of airy and that is exactly what you want. A cake so light, it doesn’t make you feel like a brick eating it.

Recipe make a 3-layer, 8 in round cake

  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 7 egg, separated
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup of espresso + 1/4 cup sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into sifter. Sift into bowl. Make a well; add oil, egg yolks, water, and vanilla to the well in the order that is given. Set aside. Don’t beat.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until very stiff. Set aside.
  4. Using same beaters, beat egg yolk batter until smooth and light. Pour gradually over egg whites, folding in with rubber spatula. Do not stir.
  5. Butter and flour a 8×3 inch cake pan and pour batter.
  6. Bake for 55 minutes at 325 degrees then increase heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and bake 10 to 15 minutes until done. Cake is done with a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool completely before inverting. Use a serrated knife, cut into 3 even layers.
  8. Brush the espresso mixture onto the cake layers.

Mascarpone frosting

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 8-oz container (1 cup) mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder OR shaved bittersweet chocolate
  1. In a cold mixing bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream with wire whisk. Add vanilla and gradually the powdered sugar. Beat until soft peaks form.
  2. In another bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese. Fold the whipped cream mixture into mascarpone until incorporate. Layer the frosting evenly between the 3 layers of cake. Chill for 3 hours before serving.
  3. Garnish by dusting 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder/2 tablespoons of shaved bittersweet chocolate.

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