Tiramisu Cupcakes

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When I asked our three February birthday people at the office what they’d like for the monthly party, two deferred to the third, who responded “anything chocolate or coffee/chocolate.” That sent me in search of recipes and I settled on King Arthur Flour’s Tiramisu Cupcakes, plus a couple other coffee/chocolate treats, but the cupcakes were the stars.

Who doesn’t like a boozy dessert? Tiramisu, but in the form of a cupcake—a very vanilla cupcake, with a Kahlua espresso soak and a creamy amaretto mascarpone frosting dusted with cocoa. Yes, please! Homemade tiramisu without the need to hunt down a decent package of lady fingers (or figure out how to make your own!).

The recipe reviews are what sealed it for me—they were all great. And they were right. These are a special cupcake. Unique with the “soak” that provides that boozy bite in the middle of a really vanilla cake, and the frosting—oh, the frosting! A not-too-sweet, whipped cream-mascarpone cheese mixture spiked with amaretto (almond liqueur). Wow!

The original frosting recipe called for Instant Clear Jel, which, conveniently, you can order from King Arthur Flour. It’s actually modified food starch, which is chemically processed and not something I want in my food, so I used less processed corn starch. It still keeps the frosting, which contains a lot of whipped cream, from deflating. Arrowroot powder might work as well, but I didn’t want to chance it. Next time I make these at home, I’ll try it and will update the recipe if results are good.

Don’t skimp on the soak. After making a smaller test batch, I told myself to use more of the soak mixture. When I made the larger, “for real” batch, I thought I had used more of the soaking liquid (brushed each cupcake many, many times), and I was worried it was too much liquid (afraid they’d be soggy), but the cupcakes could have used even more of it, so be generous.

Keep in mind that because the alcohol in both the soak and the frosting isn’t cooked off, these should be adults only cupcakes. And all the adults at the office birthday party gave them rave reviews. Enjoy!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Tiramisu Cupcakes

Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour

Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

3 large eggs, room temperature

3 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

Soak
3 tablespoons coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua

2 tablespoons espresso powder

3 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup hot water

Frosting
2 cups heavy cream

4 teaspoons corn starch 2/3 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup amaretto liqueur

1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature

Garnish
Unsweetened cocoa powder, to dust tops of frosted cupcakes.

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk into the butter mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again, to be sure everything is incorporated.

Scoop the batter into paper-lined cupcake pans. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Remove the cupcakes from the oven and place the pans on a rack for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn the cupcakes out and return them to rack to cool completely.

To make the soak: Mix the espresso powder, liqueur, and sugar into the hot water.

Using a fork, poke the tops of each cupcake two or three times. Sprinkle or brush a small amount of the soak over each cupcake, and allow it to soak in. Repeat until virtually all the liquid is used.

To make the frosting: Beat the whipping cream until medium peaks form.

Whisk together the powdered sugar and corn starch and slowly add to the whipped cream, along with the amaretto.

Gently and briefly whisk in the mascarpone cheese by hand until the frosting is thick and creamy (this shouldn’t take more than 4 or 5 passes with the whisk); more than that and the frosting will get grainy.

Pipe the frosting over the cupcakes, then dust with cocoa. Keep refrigerated. I think the cupcakes taste best if they are removed from the fridge about 1/2 hour before serving.

Yield: 18-24 cupcakes (I got 18, but the original recipe said 24).

Avocado Lime Cupcakes with Avocado Lime Buttercream

Cupcakes from overhead
The weather here in Minnesota is creating an epidemic of spring fever and we have not been spared. Dinner has been from the grill a couple times in the past few days and yesterday Pete hauled out some of our patio furniture and lit the fire table. We went hiking in a nearby park, and then experienced our first patio dining of the year at a local restaurant/bar. Today, more time spent outside and Pete even went kite-flying. As much as we love winter, this early spring is great and everyone seems to be in a fantastic mood!

The last couple years when St. Patrick’s Day approached, we’ve still been knee-deep in snow, so we feel especially giddy with shirt-sleeve weather to celebrate the holiday. While not a dessert you’ll probably find in a Dublin bakery, the light green hue of these cupcakes makes them perfect for that St. Patrick’s Day office potluck where all the food is supposed to be green, and yet no yucky artificial coloring is required.

The avocado lends a moistness and buttery aspect to the cupcakes and the lime offers an unexpected burst of citrus. With a lovely light green color, the frosting is wonderful with its subtle lime tartness and avocado creaminess. Pete and I each ate one and agreed they are delicious! The rest I’m packing up to take to work tomorrow—we can’t be trusted to keep our hands off them the additional day until it’s actually St. Paddy’s. Enjoy!
Lime ZestJuicing LimeCupcakeCupcakes

Avocado Lime Cupcakes with Avocado Lime Buttercream

 Adapted from Robin Asbell’s Big Vegan

Cupcakes:

1 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons lime zest, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup mashed avocado

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

1 cup organic granulated sugar

1 cup almond milk

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Frosting:
½ cup mashed avocado

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

½ cup non-hydrogenated shortening (Spectrum is the brand I use)

3 cups powdered sugar

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin papers or grease and flour the cups.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, lime zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl or blender, puree the avocado until very smooth then mix in the oil (this can be done with a whisk if you don’t feel like dirtying the blender). Stir in the granulated sugar, then the milk, lime juice and vanilla. Stir the liquids into the dry mixture, mashing if there are any lumps, just until combined, taking care not to over-mix. Divide batter among the prepared muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a rack. Remove from pans once cooled.

To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer), mix the avocado and lime juice until smooth. Add the shortening and powdered sugar and mix until combined. Increase mixer speed to high and beat for a couple minutes until smooth and fluffy, scrapping down the sides when necessary.

Pipe or spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with additional lime zest. Store, covered, in the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature before serving. Makes 12 cupcakes.