Almost Tiramisu Cupcakes

Tiramisu Cupcakes And Cupcake Fail Surprise

This week, two recipes for the price of one! I was feeling a little uninspired in the kitchen and needed to do something drastic. I used my 2-year anniversary at my current employer as an excuse and set to work finding a recipe that would be easy enough for me to make with the ingredients I already had, but that would also yield fantastic, almost over-the-top results.

Enter the Tiramisu Cupcake. I didn’t have mascarpone cheese, but I had cream cheese which is a little stiffer than mascarpone but I was sure I could make it work. I didn’t have rum, but I did have amaretto. Yes! I have the perfect cupcake recipe to help me get out of my funk.

It was pretty late so I used a Pillsbury white cake mix instead of making the cupcakes from scratch. I mixed the mix and reached for the cupcake paper liners… doh! I don’t have enough. Oh well, I’ll make as many as I can and just make a cake with the rest. While the cupcakes (11 of them) were baking I started on the Coffee/Rum Amaretto syrup and the Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting. I am a multi-tasker so I tackled both things at the same time and the syrup only boiled over once! I was pretty impressed. I was less impressed with my cream cheese frosting experiment. The directions in the original experiment call for mascarpone cheese, which is… goopier?… than cream cheese but I figured I could make it work; the plan was just to add more whipping cream and use a little less cheese. The directions also clearly state to whip the whipping cream first, THEN add the cheese. This step I missed and ended up with lumpy goop. Tasty lumpy goop, but lumpy goop none the less. Not appetizing as a frosting.

No problem, I still have the left over cake mix that I didn’t have enough cupcake paper liners for. I can just… I can just what? What do I do with this lumpy gooey mess? I can’t use it as a topping and even as a filling it would still feel suspect in the mouth (lumpy dairy is never good). So I panicked for a while and ended up deciding to bake the goo into the cake and hope for the best. It would be like cheesecake, right? I plopped a few dollops of goo into the cake batter (poured into the smallest spring-form pan I have) and cut it into the batter with a knife.

Cupcake Fail Surprise: 1/2 of a white cake mix and lumpy cream cheese-whipping cream-powdered sugar mixture plopped on top.
Cupcake Fail Surprise: 1/2 of a white cake mix and lumpy cream cheese-whipping cream-powdered sugar mixture plopped on top.

And, at this point, why the hell not? CHOCOLATE CHIPS!

Cupcake Fail Surprise: Add chocolate chips

The 11 cupcakes had already come out of the oven so in went the cake. Whatever comes out will be a surprise!

Now it was time to focus on what the heck I was going to do with these cupcakes that I no longer had frosting for. I had used all my heavy cream and all my cream cheese. My husband was at work but he was due to come home soon so I called him and requested that he stop by the store and pick up cream cheese, heavy whipping cream AND mascarpone cheese. He agreed and thank goodness! I am still not sure what I would have done with those cupcakes and relying on the crazy-cake-born-from-cupcake-frosting-failure to be my fall-back made me cry a little. The plan was, after all, to take the cupcakes to work for my 2-year anniversary!

With hubby on the way with my cheeses and cream I set to work preparing the cupcakes.

Almost Tiramisu Cupcakes: Cut off the top
Step 1: Cut off the tops
Almost Tiramisu Cupcakes: Tops and Bottoms brushed with Espresso/Amaretto mixture
Step 2-3: Cut small hole in bottoms of the cupcakes, brush bottoms and underside of tops with coffee/liquor syrup

So how did the cake and cupcake fiasco end? FANTASTICALLY! Both turned out really well. The cupcakes were an immense success at work and were devoured quickly. The cake I haven’t tested on anyone besides myself and Husband but we are both going to be a bit fatter in a day or two for sure.

After this crazy adventure I have learned these simple things:

  1. Cream cheese is way too different from mascarpone to be a decent substitute by itself. Mascarpone is rather expensive though ($5 in Duluth, MN for 8 oz.) so in the future I will follow this recipe from for a Mascarpone substitute.
  2. Always read the directions FIRST! This will help to avoid lumpy goop
  3. Don’t Panic. Call Husband.

Tiramisu Cupcakes


  • 1 box Pillsbury white cake mix & necessary ingredients to make it (eggs, oil, water)

Coffee/Rum Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp dark rum
  • 2 Tbsp amaretto

Mascarpone Frosting

  • 16 oz. Mascarpone Cheese
  • 2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1 C confectioner’s sugar

Optional Ingredients for Garnish

  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate covered coffee beans


  1. Prepare the cake mix as directed. Fill cupcake liners nearly full so the tops will rise above the top of the liners; like a muffin. Bake as directed on the package. When done, place cupcakes on wire rack to cool.
  2. While the cupcakes are baking, in a small sauce pan combine water, espresso powder, and sugar. Bring to a boil, boil 5 minutes. WATCH CAREFULLY. This will boil over if you don’t watch it closely. Turn down the heat if it’s about to explode over the sides of the sauce pan.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in rum and amaretto. Set aside.
  4. With a an electric mixer and the whisk attachment, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Add in mascarpone cheese and confectioner’s sugar and whisk until smooth.
  5. Fill piping bag with frosting until ready to use. Create a piping bag by cutting the corner off a zip-lock bag. Insert a decorative tip if you wish.
  6. Go back to the cooled cupcakes. Cut off the tops (gently pull up the edges from the cupcake top to separate from the liners, then using a sharp serrated knife cut the tops off using the top of the liners as a guide).
  7. Cut a “dent” or hole in the middle of the bottoms being careful not to cut all the way down to the bottom. Using a pastry or silicone brush, brush the coffee/rum mixture on the undersides of the cupcake tops and over the top surface and in the hole of the cupcake bottoms. Use enough liquid for it to soak into the cake a bit, but not too much that the cake will be soggy.
  8. Pipe the mascarpone frosting into the hole in the cupcake bottom and go a little bit above the top edge – this will form the “glue” that holds the top on. Place the top back on the cupcake and put more mascarpone frosting on top. If desired, lightly sift cocoa powder on top of the frosted cupcakes.

Almost Tiramisu Cupcakes

Cupcake Fail Surprise
This makes a pretty dense cake; kind of like a coffee cake but WAY more moist. Don’t make this thinking it will be light and fluffy like a cupcake, or even a regular cake. This is an entirely different beast.


  • Pillsbury white cake mix and the necessary ingredients to make said cake mix (eggs, oil, water), divided
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 C confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Prepare the cake mix as directed. Divide in half and either make 2 cakes, or use to make 1/2 the recipe for Tiramisu Cupcakes (above)
  2. Pour the 1/2 cake batter into an 8″ ungreased (non-stick) springform pan. Set aside
  3. Mix cream cheese, heavy whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar together at low-medium speed. When combined, switch to a whisk attachment and whisk at medium-high speed. Mixture will be a little goopy and have small lumps from the cream cheese in it. It’s ok, Don’t Panic.
  4. Using a spoon, put dollops of the cream cheese mixture on the top of the cake batter. Draw a butter knife through the cream cheese mixture and cake batter to “marbleize” them together.
  5. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the cake.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until the cake turns golden brown on top (the cream cheese parts will stay white) and the edges pull away from the sides of the pan. You can use a toothpick to tell for done-ness, but I found when I did this I ended up having to bake the cake for a few minutes longer after the toothpick came out clean anyway. To be honest, I didn’t time this. I just kept checking the cake and pulled it out when I thought it was done. After it cooled a bit, I touched the cream cheese areas on the top and they were still pretty gooey so i put it back in the oven for a while longer. I have no idea for how long.
  7. When you think it’s done, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Cupcake Fail Surprise!
Cupcake Fail Surprise: The surprise is how well it turned out!

4 thoughts on “Tiramisu Cupcakes And Cupcake Fail Surprise

    1. I don’t have a garbage disposal and my drain is pretty slow already. Dumping down the drain isn’t an option for me. I gotta find a way to use it! 🙂


  1. everything sounds so tasty! i made a cream cheese frosting yesterday. It turned out pretty well. First time I successfully used the electric hand mixer. I used 1/2 stick of butter and 8oz cream chese. 1/2 tsp vanilla. mixed with beater. Then added 2-3 cups of powdered sugar and 3 drops of green food coloring! nom. nom.


    1. Cream cheese frosting is my favorite. I usually only add half the powdered sugar, though. Sugar makes my teeth hurt :/ Also, fun fact: try adding lemon zest and about a teaspoon of lemon juice to the frosting. A shot of liquor is always a nice touch too 😀


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