Friday, December 3, 2010

Week 6 - Coconut Cupcakes

Vanilla buttermilk cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and coconut.

I know it's been more than a week since the last cupcake, but for the sake of not confusing people new to this blog, we can call this week 6 1/2.

When I was growing up, my mom always made a coconut cake for Christmas. I looked forward to it every year because, like so many other beloved recipes, we only had it once a year. Why do we do that? Anyway, as soon as I started making a list of holiday flavors for this month, I thought of tender vanilla cake with sugary frosting and fluffy white coconut. Mom always used a white cake mix and seven minute frosting, but I branched out a little. Please, don't tell Mom.

I found this cake recipe all over the internet, and copied it (with a minor modification) from Baking Bites. If you're wondering why I chose a buttermilk vanilla cake, it's because... well, I was out of regular milk. Frankly, I'm glad, because this cake recipe is amazing. It's light and fluffy and moist. I was afraid the tang of the buttermilk would overwhelm it, but it's barely noticeable, and the acidity served to make a very tender cake. Don't be afraid of the buttermilk. It's amazing. 

The modification I made was to add a wee bit of coconut extract instead of the almond called for in the recipe. If you don't have it, you can just use almond or extra vanilla. It's worth it to get the coconut extract, because it gives even the cake itself a subtle hint to coconut that will make your eyes roll back in your head in delight. Unless you hate coconut.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes

  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ tsp coconut extract (or any other extract - almond and orange are great ideas for this cake)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place liners in a 12 cup muffin tin.
Nom Nom Nom
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until it looks creamy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla and coconut extracts until mixture is smooth.  Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until almost combined. Add buttermilk and stir, again, until almost combined. Add the rest of the flour and stir until all ingredients are mixed in.
Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350F. At 18 minutes, check them. If they look like they're probably not done, barely press in the center of a cake and see if it springs back. If it does, take them out. You do not want to over bake these.  Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the muffin pan. Cool completely before frosting.

Makes 12 cupcakes

For the frosting, I made vanilla buttercream. Because I wanted that sugary, crusty type of frosting that dries a little on the outside, I went with a butter/shortening combo rather than all butter. If the thought of shortening in your frosting makes you hurl, you can just use butter (and never, ever buy a cake with buttercream frosting from a bakery again). 

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • milk for thinning out frosting (I used buttermilk out of necessity, but use regular milk)
Cream butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Mix in powdered sugar one cup at a time until frosting is fluffy but firm. Add milk as needed to thin the mixture enough to blend it.  Pipe on top of  the cupcakes using a pastry bag or a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off.

To top your cupcakes with coconut, dump coconut in a bowl and fluff it with your fingers so there are no big lumps. Turn your cupcake upside down and gently press it into the coconut, rolling slightly to cover the sides.

That's it! There are a million ways you can decorate coconut cupcakes, but they're beautiful on their own. I was planning on making an elaborate decoration for the top, but these adorable cupcake papers with their little toothpick toppers magically appeared at my house, so I went with them. Aren't they cute? They are Wilton, and they came from Walmart, 24 liners and 24 picks for... are you ready? $1.50. If you don't have holiday liners, white would be just as nice. Stick a gumdrop on top and call it a day. It doesn't matter what you top them with, because they're still going to taste like a little bite of heaven.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. So pretty!~ hehe the nom nom pic made me laugh :D