Tuesday, March 2, 2010

classy cupcakes

I’m a few days late for daring bakers, I realize. But that’s a-ok because I’m back to spoil you with yet another cupcake recipe, hooray!The important part: The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.The not-quite-as-important part: I went back to Martha for this tiramisu recipe since quite honestly my meager baking supplies and money really inhibited this sort of decadent dessert. I wanted to modify it then, so I could actually do the challenge instead of crapping out (a new resolution if you will). And I love cupcakes. And reading Martha Stewarts Cupcakes. When I saw these… Let’s just say that I was beyond exciting. I made little ladyfinger cookies as an accompaniment to the mini cupcakes and they all seemed to get good reviews even through various mishaps so... You should try them. As soon as you locate some mascarpone cheese (one of my new favorites to be sure).
Be warned – these cupcakes were enough to make me break my good-eating streak so bake with caution! They are a very adult desert – not too sweet and a bit delicate with the subtle layers of airy vanilla cake, bittersweet coffee glazing, light whipped cream/mascarpone frosting, and the slightest touch of dark chocolate dusting on top. Glorious! The dark chocolate ladyfingers completed the dainty tea-party mood and let me just say that they were perfect dipped in the frosting, coffee, left over ladyfinger batter… Yeah I broke my good eating habits pretty hard with these.

If you’re wondering why the ladyfingers look weird… Well it’s because my little hand-mixer can’t get stiff peaks if it’s life depended on it! That fact is basically the worst and I shudder to try to make more egg/meringue-y desserts. Which is sad, because they’re all so delightfully airy. In any case, if you want ladyfingers to be like little soft cookies, then follow my “special” method and get your mix up to soft peaks. I suggest you do the regular way anyway to make up for my failures.
Keep calm & carry on – make these cupcakes and feel classy if only until you realize you’ve eaten 15.

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes

Makes 18 regular cupcakes, lots of little ones.
• 1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1/4 cup milk
• 3 tbsp vanilla
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
• 3 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
• 1 cup sugar
• Coffee-Marsala Syrup
• Mascarpone Frosting
• Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix milk and vanilla and melted butter and let stand 15 minutes.
2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together whole eggs, yolks, and sugar. Set mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk by hand until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. With an electric mixer on high speed, whisk until mixture is fluffy, pale yellow, and thick enough to hold a ribbon on the surface for several seconds when whisk is lifted.
3. Gently but thoroughly fold flour mixture into the egg mixture in three batches; stir 1/2 cup batter into the strained milk mixture to thicken, then fold milk mixture into the remaining batter until just combined.
4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until centers are completely set and edges are light golden brown, about 20 minutes (about 10 minutes for mini cupcakes). Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
5. To finish, brush tops of cupcakes evenly with coffee syrup; repeat until all syrup has been used. Martha’s serious about using all the syrup. Those little cupcakes will soak that stuff up no problem just go at it. Allow cupcakes to absorb liquid 30 minutes. Dollop frosting onto cupcakes; refrigerate up to overnight in airtight containers. Dust generously with cocoa powder just before serving.

Simple Coffee Syrup
(adapted from Martha Stewart’s Coffee-Marsala Syrup)

Makes enough for 18 cupcakes. (or a lot of mini cupcakes)
• 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons freshly brewed very strong coffee (or espresso)
• 1/4 cup sugar

1. Stir together coffee & and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Let cool. Paint over cupcakes.

Mascarpone Frosting
- From Martha Stewart Cupcakes

Makes about 2 cups.
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
• 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

1. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat, or cream will be grainy). In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately.

Chocolate Ladyfingers and Cake Rounds

Makes lots of little ladyfingers
• 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 7 large egg whites
• 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
• 6 large egg yolks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl.
2. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add 2/3 cup sugar, whisking until stiff, shiny peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk yolks with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Fold yolk mixture into whites, then fold in flour mixture in 2 additions.
3.Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Draw lots of little 2" circles, then flip parchment over. Spoon batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Starting in the center of each circle, pipe a spiral, leaving a 1-inch border around inside edge of circle. Bake until springy to the touch, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer parchment with rounds to a wire rack, and let cool. Use immediately.

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