1. MAKE the syrup (be sure to do this first). Stir together the espresso powder, sugar and water over low heat until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool while making the cupcakes.
2. MAKE the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a mini muffin pan with cupcake liners. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. CREAM butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, until smooth and pale in color. Add eggs one at a time, making sure that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Stir vanilla into milk. Switch mixer to low speed and add dry and wet ingredients, alternating with half the dry, all of the wet, and the remaining dry, making sure not to overmix.
4. SCOOP batter into liners and bake for 10-12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. As soon as the cupcakes come out of the oven, poke hole in the tops with a toothpick, and, using a pastry brush, brush tops of cupcakes with the coffee syrup. Allow cupcakes to cool completely.
5. MAKE the filling and frosting: Beat butter, mascarpone and yogurt in an electric mixer on medium/high speed until fully combined. Add confectioners’ sugar, a half cup at a time. Beat in the coffee extract.
6. PLACE the filling/frosting into a piping bag with a narrow round tip. Push tip into top of cupcake and gently squeeze filling out of pastry bag until tip naturally starts to rise out of the cupcake. You will quickly get the hang of when to stop squeezing. Be gentle and do not over-squeeze. Once you have completed the filling, spread frosting over the cupcakes in a dome-like shape. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and top with a chocolate covered espresso bean.
TURN CUPCAKES INTO A CLOCK
Alternatively, you can make cupcakes into a clock presentation for New Year’s Eve. Use any cupcake recipe and decorate the top of each cupcake with a different number from 1 to 12. Arrange them in a circle like the face of a clock, with chocolate pretzel rods as the hands.
Here’s the recipe, plus Lauryn’s tips for baking perfect cupcakes.