Johnny Iuzzini's Tiramisu Christmas Cake

By Marisa Dabney | Dec 7th, 2015

Episode 2 Technical Bake: Judge Johnny Iuzzini's Tiramisu Cake

Johnnys Tiramisu Christmas Cake


For the Cake:

Makes 2 (9 inch cakes)

• 2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 2 tsps baking soda
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 3 large eggs
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 2 tsps vanilla extract
• ¾ cup boiling water
• 2 tsps espresso powder
• ¼ cup cocoa powder, for garnish
• red satin ribbon, for garnish

Espresso Extract

• ½ cup boiling water
• 2 Tbsps espresso powder

Espresso Syrup

• ½ cup granulated sugar
• ½ cup water
• 1 Tbsp espresso extract
• 2 tsps Kahlua

Tiramisu Filling

• 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 Tbsp Kahlua
• 1 Tbsps espresso extract
• 1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
• 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks, room temperature

Espresso Buttercream

• 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
• 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 Tbsps espresso extract


• ½ cup unbleached all purpose flour, sifted
• 3 large eggs, separated
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• powdered sugar, for dusting



1. Preheat oven to 175C/350F. Grease, flour and parchment 2 (9 inch) cake pans.

2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla. Combine the boiling water and espresso. Set aside.

3. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir in the espresso.

4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and remove from pans onto a cooling rack.

5. When completely cool, if there is a dome on the top of the cakes, using a serrated knife, carefully remove. Slice each cake layer in half giving you four layers.

6. To assemble: Place one cake layer on cake stand, cut side up. Brush with Espresso Syrup. Top with 1/3 of the Tiramisu Filling. Repeat with remaining 3 layers, leaving the top layer without Tiramisu Filling. You will have four total cake layers. Frost the entire cake with the Espresso Buttercream. Create a Christmas tree stencil. Place in the center of the cake and dust
the inside with cocoa powder to create a Christmas tree. Stick the ladyfingers along the side of the cake. The frosting will help them stick. Tie the red satin bow around the ladyfingers. Slice and serve

Espresso Extract

1. Combine all ingredients and set aside

Espresso Syrup

1. Combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Remove from heat and stir in extract and Kahlua. Set aside.

Tiramisu Filling

1. Heat a medium pot with about 1 inch of water inside.

2. In a bowl that will fit on top of the pot but not touch the water, whisk together egg yolks and sugar.

3. Place bowl over pot and cook for 5-7 minutes whisking constantly. The yolks and sugar will become pale yellow and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in Kahlua and espresso extract. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.

4. In a mixer with a paddle attachment combine mascarpone and yolk mixture. Mix for 1 minute. With the electric mixer on medium speed slowly add the whipped cream. Mix until smooth. Set aside or chill until ready to assemble cake. If your filling is to break or separate, do not panic! Place in bowl over large pot with water. Heat and whisk constantly until mixture
comes together again. Place in electric mixer and whip until smooth.

Espresso Buttercream

1. Place all ingredients in an electric mixer. Mix until smooth. Set aside until ready to assemble.


1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Prepare 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a marker make 8 (4 inch) lines on each tray about 2 inches apart. Prepare a piping bag fitted with a large round baking tip.

2. In a large bowl, whip the egg yolks and vanilla on high until thick ribbons form, about 5 minutes.

3. In another bowl, whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form. Should appear shiny and if the bowl is flipped upside down the meringue should hold.

4. Combine the yolks with the meringue and gently fold together. Add the sifted flour and fold until combined. Place in piping bag.

5. Using the lines you previously created, pipe 8 ladyfingers per tray leaving about 1-2 inches in between each ladyfinger. Dust each ladyfinger with powdered sugar. Let sit for 1 minute. Dust a second time and place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to assemble.


1. Cake is quick to get together. You should be able to get everything done while cake was baking.

2. Tiramisu filling is hard to make. It breaks easily but can be easily fixed if a problem happens. If it breaks or separates, you can save it by lacing in bowl over large pot of water. Heat
and whisk constantly until mixture come together again. Place in electric mixer and whip until smooth.

Hazards to Watch For:

1. The cake must be baked well so it can be sliced evenly to create four layers.

2. Using a paddle attachment is key. If you use a whisk to make the tiramisu filling it will separate and break.

3. The ladyfingers are difficult to make. If you do not whip the egg whites enough and do not fold properly they will not come out light, airy and crispy.