If you could only have one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be? I would choose Tiramisu, hands down. It’s without a doubt my favorite dessert and has been for as long as I can remember. So naturally, I needed to translate those flavors into a cupcake. These Tiramisu Cupcakes start with a soft, fluffy vanilla cake base, soaked in sweet espresso syrup, finished with a creamy mascarpone icing and a cocoa-dusted top. Decadent and delicious – these are a must-try!
What Is Tiramisu?
Traditionally, Tiramisu starts with coffee-dipped ladyfingers which are layered with the classic filling containing egg yolks, sugar, and mascarpone cheese then finished with cocoa powder. It’s refrigerated for several hours and served cold. I love how all of the flavors perfectly meld together in the fridge creating the most delicious, creamy, coffee-infused bite.
What’s in a Tiramisu Cupcake?
These Tiramisu Cupcakes are not exactly like the traditional dessert but the flavors are spot on. I’ve had a lot of Tiramisu in my life and these definitely rank at the top. There are 3 parts that make up these delicious treats.
Vanilla Bean Cupcake
Instead of the classic spongey ladyfingers, there is a Vanilla Bean Cupcake for the base. They are fluffy, tender, and a perfect complement to the espresso flavor in the syrup and icing.
Espresso Simple Syrup
This is a basic simple syrup (equal parts sugar + water) that is boiled with espresso liqueur and then instant espresso is added at the end. I prefer to use the espresso liqueur instead of Marsala wine, or rum as some recipes call for. I find that the espresso liqueur adds the perfect flavor and doesn’t overpower the dessert with an intense taste of alcohol. The alcohol does get cooked out in this syrup.
Tiramisu Mascarpone Icing
No raw eggs here. In addition to the mascarpone, the icing has cream cheese added for thickness, plus whipped cream to make it light and creamy. Vanilla extract plus espresso liqueur and instant espresso are added. The liqueur does not get cooked out in the icing, so keep that in mind. You can leave out the alcohol if you’d like and there will still be some great espresso flavor.
Tips for the Best Tiramisu Cupcakes
- Poke holes in the cupcakes. Using a wooden skewer, or even the prongs of a fork, poke into the top of the cupcake a few times. This way, when you dip the top of the cupcake into the espresso simple syrup, it will soak into more of those crumbs.
- Don’t overmix the icing. The cream cheese and mascarpone can be a little finicky and easily overmixed. Make sure both ingredients are cold, as well as the heavy cream. After beating the cream cheese until it’s smooth, you’ll want to mix each remaining ingredient only until the mixture is combined. Be sure not to walk away from the mixer while it’s running to avoid overmixing. It can go from the perfect light, creamy consistency to soupy very quickly.
- Wait to wash your bowl and attachments while making the icing. This is a tip to save you some time and dishes. And that’s enough to make any recipe better, right?! You’ll start by whipping the heavy cream and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Transfer that to a separate bowl, then add the cream cheese to the same used mixer bowl and cream with the paddle attachment. To finish off the icing, you’ll switch back to the whisk attachment. It may seem repetitive to go back and forth but this is definitely the fastest and most efficient way. Plus it will save you time on dishes!
More Cake Recipes to Try
You must be drooling for these cupcakes by now, let’s get to the recipe. Happy Tiramisu making!
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes:
- 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (151g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg + 1 large egg white
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1⅔ cup (190g) cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ¾ teaspoons baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (186mL) buttermilk
Espresso Simple Syrup:
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (57g) water
- 1½ teaspoons espresso liqueur
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
Tiramisu Mascarpone Icing:
- 1½ cups (365g) heavy cream
- 1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
- 6½ oz (180g) cream cheese
- 8 oz (226g) mascarpone
- 1 Tablespoon espresso powder
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon espresso liqueur (optional)
- cocoa powder , for dusting on top
- Vanilla Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 12-count muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy and light in color, about 2-3 minutes.
- With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, vanilla, and vanilla bean paste slowly, combining well after each addition. Scrape the bowl well.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined after each addition and scrape down the bowl a few times during the process.
- Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the cake springs back to the touch (or a toothpick comes out clean). The rim of the cupcakes should be lightly golden brown.
- Espresso Simple Syrup: Combine the sugar, water, and espresso liqueur in a small saucepan. Cook on low until the mixture simmers and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the espresso powder until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
- Tiramisu Mascarpone Icing: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar until it reaches medium-stiff peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to another bowl.
- In the same bowl used to whip the cream, add cream cheese and using a paddle attachment, cream until smooth and no lumps remain. Set aside the whisk attachment for step 11.
- Scrape the bowl. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix on low speed, until just combined.
- Mix together the espresso powder, vanilla, and espresso liqueur. Add to the bowl while the mixer is running on low speed. Once liquid is added, increase speed to medium-high and mix just until combined.
- Scrape the bowl. Switch back to the whisk attachment. Add the whipped cream to the bowl and whip on low speed until the mixtures start to come together. Scrape the bowl then whip on high speed for about 10-15 seconds, just until fully combined.
- Assembly: Using a wooden skewer or the prongs of a fork, poke the top of each cupcake 4-6 times. Make sure not to puncture through the bottom of the cupcake liner.
- Dunk the top of each cupcake into the espresso simple syrup, keeping each one in the syrup for a few seconds.
- Using a piping bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe the Tiramisu Mascarpone Icing onto each cupcake. Using a sifter, dust the tops with cocoa powder. Add chocolate shavings, if desired.
- Refrigerate cupcakes up until 15-20 minutes before serving then enjoy!