• Tiramisu cupcakes (Nick Makrides)Source: Nick Makrides

The combination of vanilla cake, strong coffee and rich mascarpone cream-cheese frosting with a hint of chocolate will give you some serious food-coma vibes. 






Skill level

Average: 0.8 (425 votes)

The first time I had tiramisu (that wasn’t my mum’s) was in Italy. If you ever go to Italy (shout-out to my Italian followers), there are several things you should eat while you are there: pizza, pasta and tiramisu. The first time I ever went to Italy I was about 12 and my mum’s dream was to go to Venice. As soon as we touched down in Rome, we lost her at the airport. An hour later, she came back with pizza for all of us. It was delicious. I visited Italy for the second time when I was 24. I spent the last day in Florence. I suddenly remembered the promise I had made myself: to try real Italian tiramisu. I’ve been a fan ever since. The combination of vanilla cake, strong coffee and rich mascarpone cream-cheese frosting with a hint of chocolate will give you some serious food-coma vibes. This is my second favourite cupcake flavour of all time after red velvet.



  • 250 g (9 oz/1 cup) full-fat cream cheese blocks (not spreadable), chilled
  • 3 tbsp mascarpone cheese
  • 250 g (9 oz/1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 350 g (12½ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • 150 g (5½ oz/1½ cups) powdered milk (skim or full-fat)
  • 3 tsp vanilla bean paste

Coffee mixture

  • 3 tbsp instant coffee
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) boiling water


  • 430 g (15 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 265 g (9½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 125 g (4½ oz/½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 375 ml (12½ fl oz/1½ cups) full-cream (whole) milk
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Chocolate sauce

  • 100 g (3ó oz) good-quality dark chocolate buttons
  • 250 g (9 oz/1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 250 g (9 oz) brown sugar
  • 75 ml (2 ½ fl oz) thickened (whipping) cream


  • 1 batch Chocolate sauce (see above)
  • 40 g (1 ½ oz) sweetened cocoa powder

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. To make the frosting, place the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer. Mix on low speed to begin with, to help break up the cream cheese a little, then increase the speed to high for a couple of minutes to help combine the cream cheese and butter.

2. After a couple of minutes, stop your mixer and scrape down the side of the bowl with a spatula. Add the icing sugar, powdered milk and vanilla. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, then bring the speed back up to high. Continue beating on high speed until your frosting is fluffy and turns pale in colour.

3. To make the coffee mixture, combine the instant coffee and boiling water in a small bowl until the coffee has dissolved.

4. To make the cupcakes, preheat a fan-forced oven to 140°C (275°F) or a conventional oven to 160°C (320°F). Line two cupcake tins with the cupcake cases.

5. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix with a hand mixer until well combined.

6. Next, add the softened butter and mix on low speed until the mixture reaches a crumbly, sand-like texture.

7. Add the eggs, milk, oil, yoghurt and vanilla, and mix on low speed until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix for a final 20 seconds. It’s at this point that you can add any flavourings or food-gel colourings to the batter.

8. Fill each case three-quarters of the way. Using an ice-cream scoop to transfer the batter to the cupcake cases makes this a quick and easy process and ensures each case contains exactly the same amount of batter so that the cupcakes bake evenly.

9. Bake for 40–50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

10. Once the cupcakes are baked and cooled, dip the tops into the coffee mixture, allowing it to soak in and drip down the sides of the cupcakes. Take care not to soak them too much, otherwise, you’ll risk the cupcake cases coming away from the cakes.

11. To make the chocolate sauce, add all the ingredients to a large, microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high, for 20 seconds at a time, mixing well between each interval until smooth. To thin out your sauce for things like drizzling on cupcakes and cakes, simply microwave for 10 seconds at a time, stirring between each interval until it’s thin enough to drizzle.

12. To assemble, core the centre of each cupcake with an apple corer (stop about 1cm (½ in) from the bottom) and fill it with chocolate sauce. Fit the end of a piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip, fill it with frosting and pipe a swirl of frosting on top of each cake. Finish with a dusting of cocoa powder.


This recipe is from Sugar Rebels by Nick Makrides published by Hardie Grant Books RRP ($32.99) and is available in stores nationally. Photography by Nick Makrides.