Wednesday, May 4, 2011


A lot of people I know like coffee. Last year, I had this teacher who actually asked students to buy her coffee from the cafeteria while we were supposed to be in class. She doesn’t teach at our school anymore (but not for that reason...) I’m not a big fan of coffee (I’m still vainly hoping that I’ll grow a couple more inches) but I love ice cappuccinos and coffee-flavoured sweets.

Coffee, cream, and cake; need I say more? Creamy, sweet, and cool, tiramisu is a dessert in its own name. Lady fingers and stale cake just don’t do justice for such a rich concoction. Garnished with cocoa powder, each bite of cream and coffee-infused cake is like a wake-up call to the senses.

Tiramisu is generally seen as a refrigerator cake designed to revitalize stale cake. I usually use lady fingers instead of cake, but this time, I decided to go the extra mile and actually bake a cake for the sole purpose of making tiramisu. I made a pound cake, which tasted delicious, but my family members mentioned that the cake was a tad bit too dense in comparison with the cream. I kind of liked that the pound cake had body and structure; I've found that tiramisus made with softer cakes tend to lack definition between the cream and the cake.

As requested by my mom, I made another tiramisu using a small sponge cake bought from a bakery. My mom and my brother Kyle liked the softer cake and even I thought it tasted pretty good. Only the test of time will tell whether the sponge cake can hold up to the heaviness of the cream.

Anyone who has made a tiramisu will know that although it makes use of stale cake, it’s not a cheap dessert. The last time I bought a half-litre tub of mascarpone is a cheese, it cost $9.00. Mascarpone tastes like heavy cream, but even richer and with a sweet note. It’s deliciously smooth and thick, but at $9.00 a pop, I can’t afford to make tiramisu more than a couple times a year.

So instead of mascarpone, I used a combination of whipped cream and cream cheese. Although the cream tastes a little different from real mascarpone, it’s still quite delicious. It is whipped cream after all and whipped cream tastes good with practically everything.

Click below for the recipe. 

Pound Cake
Yield: 9x9 cake layer

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9x9-inch cake pan. In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine.In another small bowl, stir milk and vanilla together. Set both bowls aside. 

In a large bowl, cream butter until very light. Add sugar and continue to beat until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until completely blended.

Add one-third of the dry ingredients to the butter-egg mixture, then half the milk, beating after each addition until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour, milk, and remaining flour. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth surface. Bake for about 40-50 minutes in a large loaf pan, 30-40 minutes until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely before assembling tiramisu.


  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 8-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1 ½ cups whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 9x9-inch pound cake

In a shallow dish, stir water with instant coffee and granulated sugar until melted. If you have strongly brewed coffee, you can always use that. Let cool.

Prepare cream. In a large bowl, whip cream with powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Fold whipping cream into cream cheese mixture.

Cut the cake layer in half. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the coffee syrup onto each side. Place the cake layer into the original pan. Spread half the cream evenly onto the cake. 

Repeat with the second layer of cake and remaining cream and garnish with a dusting of cocoa powder. Refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight before serving. 

If you are using a store-bought sponge cake or individual cups, you can use the same method. Just slice the cake into the correct size for the individual cups.

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