Retirement cupcakes

January 3, 2008 at 3:52 PM | Posted in cupcakes | 9 Comments
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I admit that I never indulged in Trader Joe’s before but I’ve heard rave reviews from many foodie friends so I was ectastic when one of my christmas gifts was a Trader Joe’s gift certificate! I remedied my indulgence yesterday. I went on a little shopping spree, buying various groceries not commonly found in my local grocery store, one purchase being mascarpone cheese (pronounced mas-kahr-poh-nee). One of my favorite food network personality, Giada De Laurentiis, uses it in practically every dish. Since my mother-in-law (MIL) is retiring today, T and I decided to surprise her at work (ie crash the party) by baking her and her coworkers some retirement cupcakes. I know cupcakes aren’t exactly on the New Year’s Resolution diet but I figured fruit and dairy cupcakes are healthIER right? ;)

Strawberry and Mascarpone Cupcakes
(Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, | photos from me!)

Makes 24 cupcakes


1 box vanilla cake mix (I used Betty Crocker french vanilla)
1 (8-ounce) container mascarpone cheese, chilled
1/2 cup thawed and drained frozen strawberries (I used fresh strawberries)
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar


Make the cupcakes according to package instructions. Lightly grease the muffin tin and fill the batter almost to the rim of each muffin cup. (I used cupcake liners filling 2/3 full instead.) Bake according to package directions and let cool.

In a food processor combine the mascarpone cheese, strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon juice. Process the mixture until smooth. Transfer the strawberry mixture to a pastry bag (See notes for more details.) fitted with a small tip. (Not sure how small is small but I used a #12 tip.) Push the tip gently into the bottom of a cupcake and squeeze in the strawberry mixture until the cupcake plumps. (I think its easier from the top so I don’t have to take the cupcake liners off.) Continue with the remaining cupcakes.

[NOTES: I used a parchment pastry bag at first but the filling soaked through the parchment paper causing it to rip so I switched to a plastic pastry bag midway through. Maybe fresh strawberries have more water retention vs the frozen?]

In a small saucepan bring the 1/2 cup sugar, water, and vanilla extract to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved. In a medium bowl combine the vanilla syrup with the confectioner’s sugar. Stir until smooth. Working quickly, use a rubber spatula spread the icing on the top of the cupcakes. If the icing begins to firm up, place in the microwave for a few seconds to warm up again. (I garnished with fresh strawberry slices.)


Husband rating: A+
He liked the flavor of the strawberries and mascarpone cupcakes better than the Giada Raspberry Cream Cupcakes. I agree.

Wifey rating: A/A+
Mascarpone has a smooth nutty flavor and I can see why Giada loves it. It goes really well with the strawberries. Very light, slighty nutty and sweet cupcake. YUMMERS!

Other rating: A+
MIL’s coworkers kept raving about them and I have email addresses from all for the recipe. I have a feeling they aren’t upset we crashed the party! ;)



  1. Neeners, but its healthIER! Fruit and dairy. They are good calories. Don’t you love how I justify? teehee.

  2. Stupid NY Resolution, I want to make these cuppies, they look soo yuummy!

  3. I was wondering how those turned out. You did an excellent job! The icing looks great! I bet everyone loved your cupcakes.

  4. PRISCILLA, thank you! They were so yummy. I definitely wanna make these again soon. :)

  5. Hi, your cupcakes look great. Wanted to try the recipe myself, but I have a couple questions, if you wouldn’t mind answering. You said to fill the cupcakes while they are still hot, but the recipe says to let them cool. Any reason why you filled them when they were hot? Also, how well do these keep? I’m worried that the filling will seep into the whole cupcake and make a mess if it isn’t made the day I’m planning on serving it. (I’d like to make them a day in advance.) Thanks for your help!

  6. REBECCA, oops! I must have been working on a couple different recipes at the same time. If I remember correctly I piped while warm b/c I was rushed for time but if you are going to make them a day ahead I’d suggest pipe the filling after cupcakes cool and then freeze. The next day I would defrost to room temp and then ice. Hope that helps!

  7. Hi, I have a quick question about the icing. When I made it, it hardened before I barely frosted two cupcakes. I know it said to work fast, but geez! I warmed it back up in the microwave, but it hardened again too fast. It also was hard as a rock on the cup cakes and clumpy and way to sweet, it wasn’t creamy at all. Luckily, I could pull the icing right off the cake. What did I do wrong with the icing…why was it hard as a rock and cool so super fast?

  8. JESSICA, Wow only 2 cupcakes? I am not sure why it hardened up so fast. I did have to microwave mine a couple times though. You made the recipe correctly. This is not a “frosting” in the traditional sense. This is more of an “icing” recipe so it does harden and form a crust. Think like on a cinnamon roll. If you don’t want it to be as sweet you can reduce the confectioner sugar or maybe add a little more lemon juice to increase the acidity. Hope that helps!

  9. Thanks CB!

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