Tirami Su - ("Pick-Me-Up" Cake)

This recipe is from Chef Andrea Apuzzo’s Andrea’s Light cookbook. Tirami Su is a relatively new Italian dessert, but it’s all the rage in Italy and New York. The original version was made with lady fingers, and was scooped out in the manner of an English trifle. In this recipe sponge cake is substituted for the lady fingers, and it’s so light that you don’t eat it - you inhale it.


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4 cup espresso or strong coffee
  • 1 oz. Rum
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 pint whipping cream, chilled
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 genoise (sponge) cake, sliced into three layers
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Whisk egg yolks and ¼ cup sugar together. Whisk in the mascarpone cheese. In a separate bowl, whip the cream, the rest of the sugar, and the vanilla until almost stiff - no peaks. Fold the mascarpone cheese mixture into the whipped cream and continue to whip, until stiff. Set aside. Make a fully-dissolved syrup with ¼ cup sugar, 2 tbsp water, espresso and rum. Brush a layer of the sponge cake with espresso mixture. With a spatula, smooth about a half-inch-thick layer of the mascarpone cheese mixture on top. Brush the second cake layer with espresso, and place it espresso side down on the first layer. Brush the top with espresso. Spread on another half-inch of the mascarpone cheese mixture. Repeat the procedure with the third layer of cake. Cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of the mascarpone filling. With a sieve and a spoon, sprinkle the top of the cake with cocoa powder. Cover the sides of the cake with chocolate shavings. Refrigerate at least three hours. This cake does not hold up well when exposed to any heat, so keep it cool.

Pan di Spagna - (Basic Genoise - Sponge Cake)
MAKES: Two Cakes

At Andrea’s Restaurant all the cakes are baked fresh. Pan di Spagna is the one probably baked most often. It’s the basis for tirami su, strawberry cake and a few others.


  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 1/2 oz. sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 1/2 oz. cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp cornstarch
  • Pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Blend the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a mixer bowl with a wire whip attachment until the mixture doubles in volume-about 15 minutes on high speed. Just before stopping the mixer, add the vanilla and mix in. Sift together the cake flour, cornstarch and salt. Fold dry mixture into egg mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, just until blended. Coat two 10-inch round cake pans with shortening. Pour the batter into the pans and put them immediately into a preheated 350 degree F oven. Bake until tops are springy to the touch - about 45-50 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool on a wire rack. When cool, use a long serrated knife to slice off the tops of the cakes. For tirami su or other layer cakes, divine each cake into three uniform layers with a serrated knife.

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