Tiramisu Cupcakes

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So, a few months ago my boss asked me for a suggestion for a dessert that would pair well with limoncello for a wine dinner. I vaguely remember doing some research and thinking the flavors of pear and tiramisu would be good. Fast forward to Saturday afternoon, as I drive out of town for the day. He calls me to remind me the wine dinner is tomorrow, and also, he hasn’t done anything with the dessert course and would I be able to put something together. Something that matched what was on the pre-printed menu that said  “Vanilla Pear tiramisu.”

The pear part was easy. I decided to poach the pear in a vanilla/white wine concoction. The tiramisu not so much. I have never made tiramisu but I know it’s supposed to chill for about 24 hours and I was making it 6 hours before the event. Even if I chilled it for less time, there was no way in hell I was going to use store bought lady fingers, and I simply didn’t have time to make it happen. I began to panic. I considered going for the “deconstructed” version of tiramisu. It’s a great way to make it look like you know what you’re doing when you don’t. (Especially for people that like to think they’re eating something fancy.) Even that wouldn’t work.

It was then that I had a brilliant idea. Cupcakes. Everyone loves a cupcake. Everyone loves booze and coffee. Therefore it going to reason that people would like a cupcake soaked with coffee and booze. I gave up the idea of trying to make legit tiramisu and have fun with the course. Then it was just a matter of finding a recipe, tweaking it, and making it. The cupcakes were super easy, came out great and everyone loved them. I will leave real tiramisu to the lovely Italians, but I will be making this recipe again for sure.

For the cupcakes I used a souped up box cake recipe out of desperation,  and it actually worked really well for the dessert. It had a denser consistency that soaked up the liquid well. (Don’t judge me for using a box cake. Desperate times call for desperate measures.) Any vanilla/white cake will work, so I didn’t include a recipe for the cake. Below is the recipe for the frosting and syrup.

Mascarpone Frosting

(Yield Makes about 2 cups)


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar


  1. With mixer, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form. (Keep a close eye on it. It goes from liquid to done quick.)
  2. In another bowl, mix mascarpone and powdered sugar until smooth.
  3. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely combined. Use as soon as possible, although it will keep for a few hours in the fridge if necessary.


Boozy/Caffeinated Syrup

Yield Makes enough for 18 cupcakes


  • 1/3 cup espresso, warm
  • 2 ounce Kahlua. (You can use Marsala, but it’s expensive and not as common.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  1. Mix all together until sugar is melted. Let cool


How to put it all together:

After cupcakes have cooled, use a pastry brush to put syrup on cupcakes. Eventually i started pouring it on each one, because I wanted them good and soaked. Just make sure it doesn’t over saturate or the cake will fall apart. Once it’s good and drenched, top with mascarpone. If you need to do this a bit ahead of time that is fine, just keep cool.

It’s really good, even if it’s a bit of a detour from your traditional dessert. Sometimes restraint is the best way to create something cool.