Please do not be deterred by the photos. This dessert was a hit. It turned out even better than I'd hoped and and I had high expectations. The picture was taken the day after I served it - I just couldn't pull out my camera and start shooting pictures in the midst of all the birthday chaos and dessert serving that was going on at the time. I made this for the adults at my son's 4th birthday party because I was pretty sure that, while the guests would have politely choked down a piece of Spiderman cake with copious amounts of icing and food coloring along with the kids, it wouldn't go over as well as this did.
I found this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens and adapted it to my liking. I'm not a tiramisu enthusiast by a long shot. Often times, I find it soggy and over-powered with too much liqueur and espresso. This recipe piqued my interest because not only was it chocolate, but instead of using lady fingers, you bake a chocolate sponge cake. I changed the liqueur from a coffee-flavored one to Bailey's, and reduced the amount of espresso in the recipe because, like I said, I don't do soggy. The best part is that you can make it ahead of time (anywhere from 6 to 24 hours), put in in your fridge and focus on all the other stuff one must do when hosting a party. This will also save you if you're bringing dessert to someone's house - make it the day before and rest assured that every one will love it. Even the non-tiramisu lovers. And note that, unlike an authentic Tiramisu, this one does not contain raw eggs, so no need to worry about anyone with health issues.
Milk Chocolate & Bailey's Tiramisu
(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens|Ultimate Italian edition|2011)
FOR THE CHOCOLATE SPONGE CAKE:
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the paper and the sides of pan; tapping out excess. Set aside. In small bowl, stir flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs on high speed about 4 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture; beat on low to medium speed until just combined. IN a small saucepan, combine milk and butter. Heat and stir until butter melts. Add to batter along with vanilla, beating until combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake until a wooden toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Immediately loosen sides of cake from pan and turn cake onto clean kitchen towel sprinkled with cocoa powder. Carefully remove paper; discard. Cool completely. Cake can be wrapped well in plastic and frozen at this point.
FOR THE FILLING:
2 Tbsp. brewed strong espresso, divided
2 Tbsp. Bailey's
3 ounces of milk chocolate, chopped
1- 8 ounce carton mascarpone cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. Bailey's or freshly brewed strong espresso
grated chocolate for sprinkling on top (optional)
Place chopped milk chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered on 50% power about 1 minute, or until chocolate in melted and smooth, stirring every 15 seconds. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl beat the mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until soft peaks form (tips curl). Beat in 2 Tbsp. of Bailey's liqueur and cooled melted chocolate until just combined. Set aside.
Cut cooled cake in half cross-wise. Line a 2 quart baking dish with one of the cake halves. (I used a glass 8 inch square pyrex dish). Drizzle 1 Tbsp. each of espresso and Bailey's over the cake. (I used a pastry brush for more even distribution). Allow to soak in. Spoon half of the filling over the cake, spreading evenly. Top with the remaining cake half, cutting to fit as necessary. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbsp. of espresso and Bailey's. Top with remaining filling; spreading evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours. If desired, garnish with grated milk chocolate before serving. Yields: 12 servings.