Although I always love boozy cakes when they’re served to me, not one has ever made it into my personal repertoire. It’s probably my general bias that if a cake needs to be soaked in whiskey or marsala or amaretto, it must be trying to hide something. The words dry, cardboard, and stale leap to mind. Never mind that soaking cake in alcohol adds luscious flavor, intensity, depth. What’s it hiding?
I’m suspicious that way. I made tiramisu once about two years ago for an Italian dinner party with friends and I loved it. There’s a note on the recipe to make it again soon, but, alas, I have not. A handful of worthy desserts fall into that category for me — made it once, loved it, never made it again.
Baklava. Apple tarte tatin. Hummingbird cake. I’m not sure why these recipes go into exile. They deserve to join the regular rotation, but they somehow get left behind.
And so, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to make a version of tiramisu again. The recipe looked intimidating on the page, divided into many separate steps: cake, espresso extract, amaretto syrup, filling/frosting. But it’s a breeze. I made a half-batch. (See? Underestimating good old tiramisu again….) It’s a single 9-inch cake sliced in half to create two layers, so it’s a little short. An 8-inch pan probably would have worked better, to give it more height. But I had already buttered and floured the 9-inch pan and it was getting late.
The cake is supposed to be refrigerated for three hours so the flavors can meld. Didn’t happen. I finished the cake at 8:30 pm, gave it 10 minutes in the refrigerator while I cleaned the dishes, then ate a slice. Three minutes later, I ate a second piece. No discernible melding happened in the 3-minute interval between slice #1 and slice #2, but the unmelded version is delicious, I promise you. The combination of coffee and cream, chocolate and amaretto, is perfect.