Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tiramisu Cupcakes (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)

The Story:

I don't know why I always feel compelled to write these sections. I mean sometimes there is a really story behind why I made a certain thing, but sometimes the story is I just wanted to bake. Or eat. Or put someone in a sugar coma. No elaborate back-story, just plain and simple.

Anyway, I made these the same day as the banana bread because it was family night and we were going to be having my family plus my new brother-in-law and his family over for dinner as well. It was just enough people to warrant a "purposed" dessert...maybe making 24 cupcakes was a little overkill...but I figured I could swing an acceptable excuse if that's what it came down to.

I'm always looking for interesting ways to dress up a cupcake. So when in the brilliant corners of my mind the idea for tiramisu cupcakes emerged--I was extremely excited.

I found several different recipes-ranging from super simple to crazy complex. So taking into consideration all that I wanted these cupcakes to be--this one seemed like the best and way to go:
Tiramisu Cupcakes

The Method:

These cupcakes are not difficult to make, but they are time consuming as there transformation process requires several different stages.

The Cupcake:

I decided to go with the white cake box mix to save time. I'm sad I did because that was the one thing I disliked about this cupcake, but I was pressed for time so it needed to be done.

If time permits, making a vanilla/white batter from scratch could really take these cupcakes up a notch.

The liquid layer:
Tiramisu is cake soaked in espresso and rum. Because I don't keep rum in my house and I'm not a big fan of the strong liquor flavor, I opted to add a little rum extract to the coffee liquid recipe. This gave it a little bit of the original flavor without being over powering. (A little FYI: make sure you have instant coffee. I accidentally bought ground coffee in a can and ended up straining the whole concoction several times to get all the grounds out)

The soak:
I also don't like soggy bread, so drenching my cupcake creations in coffee was not an appealing option. I tried poking holes in the top with toothpicks, but I could tell that pouring the coffee over it was just going to create a huge mess. Instead, I opted to cut a small cone out of the tops of each cupcake (just like I did for the Strawberry Stuffed Lime Coconut Cupcakes I had made the week earlier).

This did the trick. I was able to pour a small amount of the coffee liquid into the cupcake centers to give it an authentic "flare," if you will, without completely destroying the integrity of the cupcake structure. No soggy mess. No stress. ;)

The filling/frosting:
This recipe (and all tiramisu recipes in general) call for mascarpone cheese in the filling. But I couldn't, for the life of me, find mascarpone cheese anywhere. I tried both of our major grocery stores, but with no luck. I decided to just use cream cheese, since it was already called for in the frosting. (I have since found out that Whole Foods carries mascarpone cheese...big shocker well as Trader Joes)
I ended up using the same recipe for the filling as I did for the frosting. I guess the cupcakes didn't really have a "special" filling then, but an overflow of frosting.

To frost the cupcakes, I spooned a small amount into a ziploc plastic bag, made a small cut in the corner, and piped the cheese frosting into (and onto) the cupcake.

The finishing touches:

For decoration, I dusted the finished cupcakes with cocoa powder and placed a small chocolate chip in the middle.

The Results:

I was very impressed with these cupcakes. I was pleased that the rum flavor was dialed down and that the inside of the cake was not soggy. Even the cream cheese frosting worked out very well (although I would use mascarpone next time). The only thing I would make sure to do to make the darn batter from scratch! I should have learned by now that I hate the box mix and that even when it saves me time, I always regret it. Honestly, a good "cake" recipe would have perfected this endeavor. But alas, I must make this journey again in order to taste a cupcake that meets my rigorous standards.

I must say though...they are kinda cool lookin'.