Tuesday, May 05, 2009
twd: tiramisu cupcakes
Yesterday morning I checked my email before heading into work and saw a message from our Dean labeled "Turkey Attack." Apparently, an errant turkey slammed through the window and into my friend K's office, located next to my office! The turkey floundered around in the office, generally making a mess, and, in the words of the Dean, leaving "organic artwork."
When I traipsed into work around noon, carrying my covered 9 x 13 pan filled with tiramisu cupcakes, the first person I saw was K.
"You need a cupcake," I declared. He looked grateful as he selected the first mini-cake from the pan.
B. looked on, and quipped, "So, I need a bird in my office in order to get cupcakes? That's all you have to do?"
I gave him one too.
We stood in the hall outside K's office surveying the damage. The custodial staff miraculously cleaned up all evidence and smell, except for the tell-tale plywood in the window, and the random turkey feathers in the hallway.
I walked through the halls and continued distributing my cupcakes to friends and random colleagues, until they were all gone. Then, I set about my "real work" of returning emails and preparing for class, happy that I had shared a little "pick me up."
A traditional tiramisu contains crisp Italian ladyfingers, soaked in coffee or espresso, and filled with a light marscapone filling, and dusted with chocolate. I've made several variations before, playing around a bit here and there. If going the traditional route, the crisp cookies are a must.
For Dorie's recipe, a butter cake is the base upon which the light and airy confection is built. After reading through some of the comments on the TWD website, I decided to make cupcakes, because I was feeling whimsical and cutesy, and what's better in that kind of mood than a messy cupcake?
While I was mixing up the various syrups and fillings, my best friend S. called, and we hadn't talked in a month, so I chatted with her while doing everything but creaming the butter and sugar and making the cake. This worked out well for the syrup and filling making, but became a little tense as I mixed together the dry ingredients for the cake. Somehow I managed to hold onto the thread of conversation while halving the recipe, searching in Regan Daley's In the Sweet Kitchen for substitutions for baking powder when I discovered my can nearly empty, and sifting together the dry ingredients. This may have something to do with the weird texture of the cakes.
No worries, though, since the lavish cream filling and frosting, as well as chunks of chocolate, provide enough competing textural interest that no one even mentioned the composition of the cakes.
These cupcakes were fun to make--I peeled the papers bake and sawed the cakes in half, then dipped them in the espresso syrup. I smoothed a dollop of filling on with my trusty offset spatula, sprinkled with chopped Lindt 70% chocolate, and topped them with the top-of-the-cupcake, and added the topping and chocolate dust.
I really like how the filling turns into the frosting--you add more of the espresso extract to make it a lovely shade of cafe au lait, and a little less sweet.
These cakes feel light (though with heavy cream and full-fat marscapone, they really aren't), and are not very sweet. Their beauty lies in subtlety.
Thank you, Megan, of My Baking Adventures, for choosing this delightful recipe. Check out her blog and the other TWD bakers for other variations and improvisations.