Tiramisu. Famous cake. Fancy cake. The cake that never really made sense to me (but I always just accepted it because my mother likes it). I’m pretty sure my dad likes it, too. Moi ? I’m not sold. I never understood what was so appetizing about cookies soaked in syrup with a little whipped cream – the texture was strange, the taste felt wrong, and the temperature never correct. However, a little mouse showed me a beautiful photo of Tiramisu cupcakes, suggesting I make them sometime. (Yeah. Right. Sure. I don’t like this dessert, remember ?)
But they seemed so cute. And approachable. And oddly…intriguing. So I skimmed a multitude of blogs to compare recipes and ideas and techniques and put together my own recipe for this Italian sweet. I made a few changes that are IMPORTANT : There was no rum involved in this cake. No cookies, either. The cake batter is spicy – not just vanilla. The result ? A fantastic and surprisingly LIGHT cupcake that made for a perfect breakfast sweet with coffee, an equally good teatime accoutrement, and a delectable (and beautiful) after-dinner dessert. The cake is not too sweet and has a nice bite from the nutmeg, which sings with the use of frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur, otherwise known as the reason why the rum is GONE. A little tip : ice these cupcakes as you go – the whipped cream frosting will otherwise make the cupcakes soggy and potentially make a large mess. Furthermore, if you ice those babies, you’ll have to store them in the fridge…which will dry them out. Avoid this if possible. This recipe makes enough for 18 cupcakes (give or take).
For the cake :
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 tsp vanilla
6 eggs + 3 yolks
2 cups sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Cocoa powder (for dusting)
Preheat oven to 325F. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. Heat the milk and butter over the stovetop (on low heat – DO NOT LET BOIL) until melted. Stir in vanilla extract.
Mix together the egg yolks and eggs with the sugar.
Be sure to beat these ingredients until the eggs go from a deep, golden yellow to a light, lemony color. This stage is called the “ribbon stage” – you’re there when you lift up the whisk and the yolks drizzle off in a long, thin stream – like a ribbon. Clever, no ?
Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture in three batches. If the butter/milk combination is VERY HOT, mix about half the batter into the milk and then fold that mixture into the rest of the batter – this will prevent the eggs from cooking. If the milk is at room temperature, you can simply add it slowly to the batter, stirring until JUST combined.
Pour the batter into the tins and cook for 20 minutes.
For the syrup :
2/3 cup STRONG coffee (or espresso)
5-8 tbsp Frangelico
1 tbsp sugar
Combine all ingredients over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.
For the frosting :
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
12 oz mascarpone cheese
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
(Before making the frosting, place the mixing bowl in the freezer to chill – this will help whip up the heavy cream.)
In a large bowl, whisk heavy cream until stiff and peaks form. In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone and sugar until smooth. Gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture until incorporated.
When the cupcakes have cooled, brush the tops with the coffee syrup. I had a little runt cupcake that I used for testing for the syrup – I recommend sacrificing a cupcake (pick the ugly one) to sample.
Repeat this process until all of the syrup has been used. Allow cupcakes to absorb liquid for several hours (eg 3. But. If you are impatient…it’s okay. Nothing bad happens to those who nibble.)
Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with cocoa powder. EAT !
Buon appetito !