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).

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Summer Fruit Crisp with No-Churn Coffee Liqueur Ice-Cream

Fruit Crisp with Ice-Cream
Up until a few days ago, I had never made ice-cream. Never wanted to buy an ice-cream maker and every recipe I’d ever come across required one. That is, until last week.

While looking for ideas to make M & M sandwich cookies for an office birthday party, I stumbled upon something even better, M & M cookie ice-cream sandwiches!!! Included was a very simple ice-cream recipe only requiring three ingredients, and wonder of all wonders, NO ice-cream maker necessary.

Very intrigued, I went to the store for heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk, dumped them in the bowl of my stand mixer, added a teaspoon of vanilla, turned the mixer on high and the timer for five minutes. Plopped the resulting thick, creamy deliciousness into a container and froze it overnight. Skeptical it could be this easy, I kept checking it to see if this was really turning into ice-cream.

Amazingly, by the next morning, it truly was ice-cream. Lovely, rich, creamy and decadent ice-cream! The entire batch was gone before I even made the M & M cookies, so another batch was necessary and it ended up being not quite enough for the number of sandwiches I needed. One more batch coming up.
M & M Cookie Ice-Cream Sandwich

Earlier that day some friends at work were joking that I always put booze in my baked goods (it really isn’t always), so it gave me the idea of incorporating booze into this ice-cream. What would go with M & M cookies? Hey, doesn’t coffee go great with cookies? And I just happened to have some of my mom’s homemade Kahlua (coffee liqueur) on hand.

Worried that the alcohol would interfere with the ice-cream freezing, I only put in ¼ cup, but it was enough to give it a coffee/boozy hint, and while I didn’t think it was possible, this version was even better than the first two batches.

After filling the remaining cookies, there was ice-cream left over that needed a partner and I immediately thought of a mouthwatering recipe seen recently on 101 Cookbooks for a summer berry crisp that, aptly, also contained alcohol, this time in the form of red wine.  And with a healthy boost from the fruit, oats and whole grain flour, it would cancel out the not-so-healthy ice-cream, right??

There were fresh raspberries at the farmers market last night and some cherries and plums at home. The only ingredient missing from the original recipe was port, and as Heidi Swanson mentioned in her notes, red wine would also work, and she’s right. This is the best fruit crisp I have ever had and Pete agreed. A big scoop of the coffee liqueur ice-cream on the still-warm-from-the-oven crisp took this dessert over the top! Enjoy!
Pan of Fruit Crisp

Summer Fruit Crisp with No-Churn Coffee Liqueur Ice-Cream

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

4 tablespoons poppy seeds  or a combination poppy and black sesame seeds

1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats), uncooked

1 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or all-natural cornstarch

1/3 cup / 1.5 oz. organic turbinado sugar

4 1/2 cups berries/fruit – mix of ripe, pitted cherries, raspberries, peeled plums, etc.

1/4 cup port wine or merlot

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish, or equivalent.

To make the crumble, mix together the flour, poppy seeds, oats, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Use a fork to stir in the melted butter. Divide the mixture into three portions and use your hands to form three patties. Place the patties in the bowl and freeze for at least 10 minutes, or until you’re ready to bake.

Make the filling by whisking together the arrowroot and sugar in a large bowl. Add the fruit and toss until evenly coated. Wait 3 minutes, add the wine, and toss again. Transfer the filling to the prepared baking dish.

Remove the topping from the freezer and crumble it over the filling, making sure you have both big and small pieces.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the topping is deeply golden and the fruit juices are vigorously bubbling. Let cool a little before serving, 20 to 30 minutes. Makes about 9 servings.

No-Churn Coffee Liqueur Ice-Cream
Adapted from this Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe

2 cups heavy cream

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup coffee liqueur

Place bowl and whisk of your stand or hand mixer in the freezer for 15-30 minutes. Remove from freezer and add all ingredients to the bowl. Whisk at high speed for about 5 minutes until mixture is good and thick. Transfer to a 2-quart container with a tight fitting lid and freeze overnight (keeps in freezer for two weeks. Makes about 2 quarts.