tiramisu cupcakes

So you’ve probably noticed the shortage of sweet, delicious things around here. Believe me when I say that this hurts me far more than it hurts you. When I’m not baking, I obsess. A lot. All the time. About cookies and cakes and pies and open faced tarts.

And cupcakes. I daydream about all the different cake flavors and frostings that are just waiting to be put together. I want an excuse to bake and play cake and frosting matchmaker.

A few weeks ago, I had a mini cupcake tasting courtesy of Trang. I took a tiny bite of each cupcake, purely in the name of research. But when I got to the tiramisu cupcake, I was very tempted to eat the entire thing. As a matter of fact, it took a whole lot of will power to step away and leave the rest of that cupcake in the box. I’m a tiramisu lover, and that cupcake was the goods.

Naturally, I began to obsess about tiramisu cupcakes.Then this little video (so bizarro and so completely random, you have to watch the entire series) found its way into my life and I took it as a sign that it was tiramisu time. So I tried to make them for the opening reception of Edwin’s art show. But that first attempt was nothing like I had hoped it would be, so I abandoned that batch. I went back to the drawing board and tried a different vanilla cake recipe, a different technique for making the whipped mascarpone frosting, snuck a little more booze into the coffee syrup (and frosting), and it all seemed to just come together. And now I’m just waiting for an excuse to make them again.

tiramisu cupcakes

makes 36 cupcakes

for the cupcakes:

from Gourmet Today edited by Ruth Reichl

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1-3/4 teaspoons salt

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

1-3/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups whole milk

cocoa powder (for dusting)

Arrange the racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350F. Line muffin trays with liners.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until completely incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing just until batter is smooth.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling them two-thirds full. Bake cupcakes, switching position of the pans halfway through baking, until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean., 18 to 22 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pans on racks for 5 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.

for the coffee syrup:

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

2/3 cup freshly brewed very strong coffee

2-4 tablespoons dark rum or marsala (or a combination of the two)

1/4 cup sugar

Stir together the coffee, rum, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Let cool before using.

for the mascarpone frosting:

adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts

2 cups heavy cream 

16 ounces mascarpone cheese

1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

2-4 tablespoons amaretto

Combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed, until soft peaks begin to form. Add the amaretto and continue to mix until stiff beaks begin to form. Be very careful not to overmix in order to avoid grainy frosting.

to assemble:

Using a toothpick, poke holes in the tops of each cupcake. Brush the tops of the cupcakes generously with the coffee syrup. Repeat until all of the syrup has been used. Allow the cupcakes to absorb the liquid for at least 30 minutes. Dollop frosting onto each cupcake or transfer the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a tip and pipe onto each cupcake. If not serving immediately, refrigerate cupcakes in an airtight container. Dust with cocoa powder just before serving.

scrambled eggs with salmon caviar (aka fancypants scrambled eggs)

Did you hear that? That, my friends, is the sound of relief. I don’t know what kind of mental blockage I was having, but I just couldn’t get my taxes done this year. My w-2 went MIA for a few weeks. There was a box full of receipts that had to be sorted through – the absolute last thing in the world I wanted to do. And then at the eleventh hour, I finally got my act together. Needless to say, I am delighted that that shiz is filed. It was really beginning to feel like a hostage situation up in this joint.

Since I was here last, which was forever-ago {insert sad face}, there has actually been quite a bit of activity in my kitchen. Easter came and went. I feel like I missed it. I went about business as usual that day – baked a couple dozen cupcakes (yes, there were cupcakes!), ran to the farmers’ market to buy strawberries for the rugrats (no Easter candy from Auntie Sandy this year), got my hair did. And before I knew it, I was late to dinner and still frosting cupcakes.

I did manage to squeeze in a little treat for myself that morning. After the cupcakes were out of the oven, I moved on to breakfast. Farm fresh eggs. Salmon caviar. A splash of heavy cream. A dab of butter. You get the picture. It was a whole lot of decadence.

These scrambled eggs were inspired by a little place called Zuni Cafe. Lee and I met there for brunch a few Sundays ago. We sat at a sunlit table on the ground floor of the dining room and enjoyed a few adult beverages. I ordered the rabbit salad with a poached egg, he ordered the scrambled eggs topped with steelhead caviar. I had one bite of those eggs and wished that I had ordered that instead. Those eggs were everything. Little pops of salty ocean goodness enveloping silky curds of the most perfect soft scrambled eggs. I seriously contemplated ordering a second entree, but ultimately decided against it.

Instead I promised myself that I would make those eggs as soon as possible. It happened two weeks later. Because it’s such a simple dish, the ingredients are key. You should be able to find cured salmon roe, also known as ikura in Japanese cuisine, at any market that sells sushi-grade fish (I bought mine at Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley; if you’re in San Francisco, Nijiya Market in Japantown is where you’ll want to go). And if you can get your hands on fresh farm eggs, they are definitely worth the extra bucks; those amazingly bright orange yolks produce a richer, creamier, super delicious cooked egg. I like to call this dish eggs on eggs or fancypants scrambled eggs. It’s my new favorite breakfast and I totally wish I had ikura on hand everyday (salmon roe is loaded with omega-3s – hooray!). And in case you were wondering, a glass of rosé pairs really nicely if it’s that kind of morning. Bon appétit!

scrambled eggs with salmon caviar (aka fancypants scrambled eggs)

inspired by Zuni Cafe

serves 2

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 cup cured salmon roe

large pinch of salt

fresh cracked pepper

Crack the eggs into a medium size bowl. Lightly beat the eggs with a fork or small whisk, being careful not to over mix. Add cream and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the butter and melt until it begins to bubble. When butter is foaming, add the eggs to the pan. As the eggs start to set, push the egg curds to the center of the pan using a rubber spatula. Continue to push the eggs around until no longer runny, but still moist. Be careful not to overcook. When the eggs are just about done, remove the pan from heat and distribute the eggs between two plates. Toss a generous amount of the salmon roe over the eggs and serve immediately with toasted baguette or sourdough.