Me and mascarpone – meant to be?
Chocolate Kahlua Coffee Cupcakes
Okay, I’ve discovered something about myself. I really like to be liked. I don’t need you to be my best friend or anything, but just to have a general fondness for me, you know? So you can imagine how hard I’m trying to be friends with mascarpone cheese. As I mentioned before, I get giddy just saying its name. Go ahead – say it out loud. Rolls right off your tongue, doesn’t it? (C’mon, Bea – say it!) It’s an ingredient I’m not quite comfortable around and perhaps I’m trying a little too hard. I don’t know, but whatever the case, things are just not working out between us. First, the pasta just didn’t quite do it for me. It was okay – nothing terribly special. Kind of like a date that doesn’t ever call you back. I won’t miss it.
My friend wondered what else I’d be making with mascarpone. Fate stepped in yesterday in a rather bizarre way when I opened the pantry door and a bottle of Kahlua fell out. I kid you not – this actually happened. Isn’t that weird? I had rummaged through the pantry looking for this long-lost bottle of Kahlua a couple days ago just to see if it was still lurking around in there in case I decided to take the tiramisu plunge. Anyway, when it nearly broke my toe, I figured it must be the day for a Kahlua dessert. It took the form of chocolate Kahlua coffee cupcakes.
The basic cupcake recipe came from the book Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella. I made some alterations to amounts and ended up with 12 regular sized cupcakes and 6 minis. The cupcakes were fine, but things really got annoying when I started making the frosting. It was supposed to be a simple butter and mascarpone frosting, but I wanted it to be coffee flavored. The texture of this frosting was so peculiar – it just looked quite grainy, even though it tasted nice and smooth. It never got that well-blended, shiny frosting look to it. Believe me, it still tasted darn good, but it ticked me off. I get so annoyed when I spend money on ingredients and then the finished product isn’t what I’d hoped it would be.
Really, mascarpone, what’s the deal? I’m a good person. You can ask around. Okay, okay, I’ll give you one more chance. I’ve got just enough mascarpone left for one more go-round, so we’ll have to wait a while to see how this little drama ends.
In the meantime, here is the cupcake recipe. I’d suggest poking a lot of holes in the baked cupcakes so more coffee flavor gets in there. I’m not even going to bother giving you the recipe for the frosting/filling, even though it was tasty – it was just too ugly and hard to work with to pass it on. I’m going to try another coffee frosting some other time. I definitely LOVE the taste and appearance of the filled cupcake. I used the small end of a melon scoop to scoop out the center of each cupcake, smooshed some frosting in, then I replaced the top before I frosted the rest of the cupcake. Doesn’t it just look delicious? It really is. Messy though, but who cares, really?
Recipe: Chocolate Kahlua Coffee Cupcakes
(adapted from Crazy About Cupcakes)
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 c. cocoa powder
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated and at room temperature
1/4 c. cold water
1/4 c. Kahlua
1 c. + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Strong brewed coffee or espresso – just enough to dribble or brush over the tops of the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350° and line muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, cream the butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla together with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until light and creamy. Add egg yolks and continue to beat for another 4 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the water and Kahlua. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. You’ll be alternating these ingredients as you combine the cupcake batter.
Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the Kahlua/water mixture. Mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined.
With clean beaters and a large bowl, whip egg whites until they form soft peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold the whites into the batter.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until cupcakes are done. Once cupcakes are removed from the oven, poke a few holes in the tops of each cake with a skewer or toothpick and brush on the brewed espresso. Cool completely.