Normally, my cupcakes have two speeds. Chocolate and vanilla. Now don't get me wrong, I have about three different chocolate and vanilla cupcake recipes appropriate for all occasions. But recently I have decided that I am a Baker, with a capital B. I think this means that I need to be willing to try new things even if they aren't what I would eat, and I should especially try them if they are outside my normal comfort zone. So when my mother-in-law Julie (who I adore) said she wanted coconut cupcakes for her choose anything birthday confection my brain immediately said, challenge accepted!
After much searching through cookbooks and the lovely internet, I found that Martha Stewart's cupcake recipe was the most highly recommended. So onto her site I went. And aside from a few modifications, these are some damn fine and lovely cupcakes. First try out they came out light and fluffy and moist and kinda perfect. With just enough coconutty flavor. Martha's recipe calls for sweetened coconut shavings to be added to be batter but I forgot them, however, I think the cupcakes are better for the omission. I think the coconut would weigh them down and make them too sweet instead of the just sweet enough that they come out without the coconut. If you want to add the coconut in I would take away 1/4 of a cup of the sugar.
But I haven't even gotten to the interesting part of this story yet. The icing. Like cupcakes I generally have two icing flavors, VERY chocolate and vanilla. You will never see the recipe for my icing on this site because there simply isn't one, and it changes every time I make it. butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla and milk are utilized in varying degrees that depend on everything from the weather to whose coming to dinner.
I thought that the coconut cupcakes required something a little different in the icing department, something outside my comfort zone. So, I decided to try Martha's 7 minute icing.
There are times when I believe Martha to be the genius everyone else does. When one of her recipes that is so easy comes out perfectly. Better than you ever thought something like that could taste. I also appreciate her genius around Halloween, cause she's just as crazy about it as I am but she has a lot of time and money on her hands to make it AWESOME.
And then there are the times when I truly believe that Martha is THAT grandmother. You know, the one who says she's given you the recipe for her famous sugar cookies, but has deliberately left out or mislabeled the key ingredient so that when you make them they come out like CRAP. Then she gets to say that only SHE can make them "the right way" (I speak from experience here folks.) This is how I felt about Martha while attempting to make her 7 minute icing. This was an unmitigated disaster. First, I misread the directions and added the sugar to the egg whites too soon. Then I got the sugar and the egg whites to the appropriate soft peaks, but when I added the sugar syrup it turned into lots of tiny pieces of hard sugar inside a meringue like icing. Yummy/dangerous. (I was later informed by my pastry chef friend that this happened because the sugar had gotten just a little too hot. Apparently you have to be careful with sugar, yet another reason I have no interest in making candy.)
By this point I had wasted half a dozen eggs and was cursing everything from chickens to Martha. And I was running late for the birthday dinner the cupcakes were meant for.
So, I ventured down another path, one I am more familiar with, one that did not involve any cooking in my icing prep. A simple cream cheese icing, not something in my everyday repertoire because my husband hates cream cheese with a burning fiery passion. but the random recipe I found on the internet was flawed so I embarked on a cream cheese frosting journey that I think turned out rather well. Thankfully the successful execution of the cream cheese frosting returned me to my normal zen baking state and I will undoubtedly be back in the kitchen this weekend for some new adventure rather than asking my husband if we can order out again so I can have time to recover from the trauma.
Here is the coconut cupcake recipe along with an approximation of the cream cheese icing recipe (play around with this one until it feels right)
Coconut cupcakes ( Adapted from the Martha Stewart recipe)
Makes 2 dozen
- 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons coconut milk
- 8 large egg whites
- 1 1/4 cups shredded sweetened coconut (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard 12-cup muffin pans and one small 12 cup mini muffin pan with paper liners.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt
- Using an electric mixer beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy
- Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, huge if you have it, you will be folding in egg whites.
- ( Yes you have to clean your mixing bowl which sucks but, In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form.
- Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture. the batter will be pretty light and fluffy. This is one instance where I would recommend actually scooping the batter into the cups rather than using the old plastic bag piping trick, the cupcakes turn out rougher if they have to be transferred this way. Again, messy and a pain, but better in the long run.
- Bake for 18 to 25 minutes depending on your oven. These go from liquidy to done pretty quickly so watch that you don't over-bake them.
1 block cream cheese
12 Tablespoons butter
1 and a half -2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbs+ coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt
Throw room temperature, butter and cream cheese into the mixer with the vanilla and salt. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 a cup at a time alternating with the coconut milk until the desired flavor and texture are achieved.
After you have iced the cupcakes pour some sweetened coconut flakes into a bowl and roll the iced tops of the cupcakes into the coconut. This makes for a great snowball presentation.