If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, a poke cake is one where holes are literally poked all over the cake so that the filling can seep down into the crumb. It’s a genius method that gives you excellent flavor and a moist cake, and in this case it takes Tiramisu and makes it into an easy everyday dessert. There are no Lady Fingers to mess with, just a quick 9×13 cake mix bake and a simple pudding topping, but you still get that irresistible creamy coffee flavor. You just get it with very little fuss!
A box of yellow cake mix makes this especially easy. You just want to prepare it according to the directions on the box, and once it has baked and cooled a bit, you’ll poke holes all over the cake. The end of a wooden spoon works well – you want the holes to be fairly large so that the filling can really get down into the cake.
The filling is perhaps not quite traditional – we use instant vanilla pudding that’s dressed up with espresso powder and Kahlua. Those both give this cake its signature coffee flavor, but if you need to skip the alcohol, you can simply increase the amount of milk you’re using to three cups.
That coffee/pudding mixture gets spread over the top of the cake, and you can take some time to smoosh it down into the holes if you feel so inclined, and then a quick homemade whipped cream gets spread over the top. Of course, this wouldn’t be Tiramisu without the chocolate, so the final flourish here is a generous dusting of cocoa powder. This cake is easy to make, but it has every bit of that creamy coffee flavor you know and love.
Tiramisu Poke Cake
10m prep time
25m cook time
- 1 box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients called for on box
- 2 small boxes vanilla pudding mix
- 2 3/4 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1/4 cup Kahlua, optional (see notes)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and flour a 9x13-inch cake pan.
- Prepare cake mix according to package instructions. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the pudding mixture: In a large bowl, whisk the instant espresso into the milk. Add pudding packets and Kahlua and mix until thick. Set aside. (If not using Kahlua, increase milk to 3 cups.)
- In a separate large bowl, beat the cream with the sugar, vanilla, and salt until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the cake. Spread pudding mixture on top, making sure pudding fills holes.
- Spread whipped cream over the top, then top generously with cocoa powder.
- Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from The Best Cake Recipes.