This Tiramisu Cake Makes Our Favorite Dessert Even Better

Dig into layers of rum-soaked ladyfingers, mascarpone mousse, and Biscoff wafers.

Portale tiramisu cake
Portale tiramisu cake | Photo courtesy of Portale
Portale tiramisu cake | Photo courtesy of Portale

Kaity Mitchell never intended for her dessert to gain a cult following. But that’s exactly what happened when the executive pastry chef of Portale put tiramisu on the menu of the chic Italian restaurant, which opened in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City in 2019.

“It was extremely popular,” she says. “And honestly, the only way I could get it off the menu was when the pandemic started.” She couldn’t keep the popular tiramisu completely off the menu, though, so she came up with a compromise: tiramisu cake.

Mitchell’s tiramisu was already a departure from the classic and prepared as an entremet-style dessert—think layers of various components prepared in a mold—so she had to adapt the recipe to make the dessert larger. A ring mold came in handy to help maintain those sharp layers and a couple of other tweaks. “I had to add slightly more gelatin to the mousse to make it a little more stable,” she says.

The bottom layer is a devil’s food cake topped with layers of coffee and rum-soaked ladyfingers (though she has used Kahlúa, too) and milk chocolate mascarpone mousse. “You just layer with these ladyfingers that have been soaked and then dusted in cocoa powder. And you just have really nice circular layers,” Mitchell says. “Then you allow it to set and before you take the acetate ring around the side off, dust it in cocoa powder, so you get that really nice super clean line around the top where there's just cocoa powder on the top and then mousse on the sides.”

Each component has a chance to really shine in Mitchell’s cake and no detail is overlooked. The ladyfingers, for example, aren’t from a box. “I make all of my ladyfingers,” she says. She pipes them into circles so she can evenly distribute them throughout the mousse. “With every bite you get that soaked ladyfinger.”

Then, there’s the crunchy Biscoff cookie butter garnishes. “It’s essentially like a wafer, but the chocolate sets and the added fat from the Biscoff makes it softer,” she explains. “So it ends up being really melty, but firm enough that it holds its shape at room temperature. Then you also get the added flavor of the Biscoff cookie savoriness.”

The finished cake is one of minimalistic beauty that’s simply adorned with cocoa powder and a ring of the chocolate Biscoff wafers—and that’s how Mitchell likes it. “I think with all of the TV shows and everything, people are used to the most extra things now. But I think you can make something look really, really clean and really, really simple, but be very delicious,” says Mitchell. “First and foremost, it should taste good. The layers should eat well. Like you should have the crunch, you should have the softness. You should have the creaminess of the mousse.”

Since people may feel inclined to stay cozied up at home this Valentine’s Day, Portale is offering the tiramisu cake as part of its takeout offerings (legend has it, tiramisu has a sexy past making it an ideal Valentine’s Day treat). Why not try making a modified version, though?

Tiramisu Cake Recipe

Devil’s Food Cake

• ½ cup cake flour
• ⅓ cup cocoa powder
• ¼ teaspoon baking soda
• ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ tsp kosher salt
• ⅓ cup unsalted butter
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 1 each whole egg
• 2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon brewed coffee
• 2 tablespoon half & half
• 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
• ¼ teaspoon vanilla paste

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and line a ¼ sheet pan with parchment paper
2. Measure and sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Combine the coffee, Half & Half, Greek yogurt and vanilla paste and also set aside
3. Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy
4. Scrape down the bowl and then add the egg. Mix until just combined, and scrape down the bowl again
5. Begin adding the dry and wet (coffee mixture) ingredients into the creamed butter and egg. Make sure to alternate dry and coffee mixture into the creamed butter and egg, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
6. Pour the batter on to the ¼ sheet pan and spread evenly
7. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The cake should be soft but slightly spring back to the touch
8. Allow to cool and then place in the refrigerator to chill.

Ladyfinger Soak

• 1½ cups freshly brewed coffee
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• 1 ounce light rum

1. While the coffee is still freshly brewed and hot, add in the sugar and light rum and whisk to dissolve the sugar.
2. Allow to cool and set aside.

Chocolate Crunchy Circles

• ½ cup 36% chopped milk chocolate
• ¼ cup 60% chopped dark chocolate
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
• ⅓ cup cookie butter
• 1 cup Feuilletine

1. Melt both of the chocolates, the cookie butter and the salt together
2. Gently fold in the feuilletine until combined off heat
3. On a sheet tray, lined with parchment, thinly spread the chocolate mixture with an offset spatula. You want it to be as thin as possible without causing holes in the layer
4. Refrigerate to set and then cut out decorative circles. Store in the refrigerator.

Milk Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

• 1 cup heavy cream
• 4 egg yolks
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 3 gelatin sheets, bloomed
• 1 cup mascarpone
• ⅓ cup milk chocolate, chopped

1. Whip the heavy cream to medium soft peak and preserve the cream in the refrigerator
2. Melt the milk chocolate
3. Over a double boiler, whisk the pasteurized egg yolks and sugar together until the sugar dissolves and the yolk mixture is warm enough to melt the gelatin, approximately 120°F
4. Whip on high speed in a mixer until the egg yolk mixture is cool and aerated. Stream in the melted milk chocolate and whip to mix it in. Scrape down the sides of the bowl
5. Add in the mascarpone in small amounts and gently whip to incorporate, so that the mascarpone doesn’t break
6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the whipped cream
7. The cake should be built as soon as the mascarpone mousse is finished

Building the Cake

1. Soak the ladyfingers until thoroughly saturated. Place on a sheet pan and dust with cocoa powder
2. Use the 6” ring mold to cut out a circle the size of the ring mold the from the devil’s food cake
3. Clean the ring mold from cutting out the cake and line with either an acetate strip or a parchment paper strip cut to the size of the ring mold. If using parchment, the ring mold will need to be slightly oiled in order for the parchment to adhere smoothly
4. Place the ring mold on top of the cardboard cake circle and the place the devil’s food cake circle in the bottom of the ring mold
5. Pipe ⅓ of the mascarpone mousse on top of the devil’s food cake. Using the back of a spoon, smooth some of the mousse up the sides of the ring mold so that there is an even layer of mousse on the entire inside of the mold
6. Place a layer of the soaked ladyfingers on top of the mousse. Don’t let the ladyfingers touch the side of the ring mold. The goal is to have a completely even layer of ladyfingers with few gaps. Press the ladyfingers slightly so that there aren’t air pockets within the mousse
7. Place ½ of the remaining mousse on top of the layer of ladyfingers and repeat the previous step for a second layer of ladyfingers
8. Add the rest of the mousse and use an offset spatula to level out the top of the mousse so that it is as even as possible
9. Freeze the tiramisu cake for 2 hours
10. Take the tiramisu out of the freezer and remove the ring mold. Before removing the lining from the cake, dust the top of the tiramisu cake with cocoa powder. Then, remove the lining
11. Place the cake on the platter that it is to be served on, allow to defrost in the refrigerator for 1 hour, then garnish with the chocolate crunchy circles

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Lia Picard is an Atlanta-based journalist writing about food, travel, and a variety of other topics. Her work appears in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wine Enthusiast, and CNN Travel.