Saturday, January 5, 2013

tiramisu cupcakes

Effective today, my 2013 resolution is hereby to stop. eating. ice cream.
I've become addicted to the stuff, especially the cheap-grade, soft-serve vanilla that's sold at Costco and Dairy Queen. It vanishes within ninety seconds, guaranteed. I've never been a health nut but I suppose now's as good a time as any to start being more conscious about my nutrition.

In light of my new resolution, I denied myself the soy milk I normally buy from the supermarket, because I only just realized this morning that it wasn't even fortified with nutrients or calcium. I've been drinking empty calories under the impression that I was nourishing myself!

The adorable Annie posted a brand-new cake recipe to ring in the new year: Gooey Butter Cake. It looks amazing (like everything else she makes!) and it's definitely something I'd be prepared to try, but I'm not sure whether mother bird would approve of so much butter. (I'm also hesitant to call this cake a better choice than ice cream!)
Well, what the heck. I'm bookmarking it anyway. Maybe once my exams are over, I can pull it up and bake it to celebrate.

Speaking of mother bird, she and I have been going everywhere together as of late. We like to have our adventures in the early, early morning, when the public places are peaceful and the streets are quiet. This particular morning saw the both of us enjoying a fairly-priced feast for brunch at a quaint little coffee joint tucked into a remote corner of the local mall.

coffee cake, pain au chocolat, blueberry vanilla muffin,
and roasted lamb sandwich, c/o Phil & Sebastian

Unfortunately, mother bird wasn't too satisfied with her meal: she was quite disappointed when she discovered that American "coffee cake" doesn't actually contain any significant coffee flavours. 

The very first cake I baked independently happened to be a strawberry cream-cheese coffee cake by a recipe I found on foodgawker. I keep it on file for its sentimental value only, since I wasn't thrilled with its taste. I remember asking mother bird to try a slice when it first came out of the oven, and though she liked it, she was convinced I'd added coffee because of its name.

So I got on the ball and started to research treats that had any trace of coffee, espresso, mocha, or latte flavours. What I found were tiramisu cupcakes - and mother bird is the biggest fan of tiramisu! Enthused, I whipped up a batch the very next day, the result being a charming crop of miniatures.

We arranged them onto three trays and brought them with us to a New Year's Eve party. They were a hit! Due to their size, they were easy bites to pop, fairly tidy fnger-food, and too light and airy to be filling, so people were popping these left and right, as appetizers and dessert. There was a scant plate of cupcakes left over by the end of the night, but mother bird rapidly gobbled the rest of these up in the following few days, claiming they were just too good to throw away.

I think it's safe to say they were a success!

(yielded 56 miniature cupcakes)

the original recipe yields 24 regular-sized cupcakes.
this recipe has been adapted and modified. you can
find the original at Lizzy's blog: Your Cup of Cake


cake ingredients -
  • 1 box white cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist White)
  • 2 egg-whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup oil (I used canola)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk*
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 strong coffee**
* I didn't have buttermilk on hand, so I warmed 3/4 cup milk in the microwave for thirty seconds, then added 3/4 tbsp of vinegar. After letting it sit unstirred for a few minutes, I mixed it up and used it.
** My "strong coffee" was 4.5 tsp instant coffee granules, mixed with 1/3 cup of boiling water.

filling ingredients -
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese + 4 oz. (1.5 packages)
  • 2 tbsp strong coffee
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
topping ingredients -
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 4 oz. mascarpone

directions -
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan with liners.
  2. Sift cake mix into a small bowl and set aside. (If you beat your batter by hand, like I do, sifting all your dry ingredients creates an easy, smooth mixture right off the bat.)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg-whites, egg, oil, buttermilk, sour cream, and vanilla.
  4. Stir the cake mix into the wet ingredients.
  5. Divide the batter into two bowls. To one of the bowls, add the strong coffee and combine well. (I added a bit of all-purpose flour to this mixture to keep the texture consistent with the plain batter.)
  6. Use the plain batter to fill the cupcake liners about 1/3 full.
  7. Scoop the coffee batter on top of the plain batter in the liners, filling them to the 3/4 mark. (They rise quite a bit, so I wouldn't recommend filling the liners to the brim!)
  8. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
  9. To make the filling, combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  10. To assemble, use a small knife (I used a peeling knife with success) to cut a bowl-shaped hole in the top of each cooled cupcake. Fill the hole with the mascarpone filling.
  11. To make the topping, beat the heavy cream. Beat the mascarpone and cream cheese in a separate bowl and add the powdered sugar and vanilla. (I microwaved my cream cheese for approximately fifteen seconds to quickly soften it.) Add the whipped cream to the mixture and beat until stiff peaks form.
  12. Garnish with chocolate shavings or cocoa powder. (I used both.)


  1. How do you make chocolate shavings? with a grater?

    1. Hi Anonymous!
      I grated chocolate to get the powder, but for the shavings, I used a vegetable peeler.

  2. I just noticed there is no rum in the recipe. Is there anyway to incorporate it?

    1. Hi, Gaby!
      There is no rum in the recipe, since I wanted my younger cousins to be able to enjoy these too, but I've hunted down some options and I've got some ideas for you -

      You can make a soaking syrup by mixing 3/4 cup espresso or strongly brewed coffee, 1 oz rum or port, and 1/4 cup sugar until everything is dissolved. Use a pastry brush to paint the surface of each baked cupcake, let it sit and soak, and then apply a second layer. You may want to skip the filling if you use a soaking syrup, since filling the cupcake requires you to cut out a sizeable chunk of the cupcake's insides and top.

      You could also replace either the whipped topping or cream filling with this recipe: 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, 1/2 cup whipped cream, 3 tbsp powdered sugar (or more, depending on your desired consistency) and 1-2 tsp rum, all mixed until smooth and creamy enough to use.