Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Best Cupcake Ever!

So, it's been a long time since I've posted, and much has changed! I have been having a blast in the kitchen with a truly wonderful man, Bryan, for the last 6 months, and we have perfected lots of new recipes. The first one that I need to post, however, is the most recent. Bryan has declared that while he is no cupcake connoisseur, this coconut cupcake is the best cupcake he's ever eaten. It's hard to have achieved such greatness so early in our relationship, but he assures me that there are many coconut desserts (including coconut cream pie) that I can still make, so I have room to grow culinarily! ;) To give you some background, Bryan LOVES coconut. Like me, he was unconvinced of the wonders of coconut until adulthood. Like me, he is trying to make up for such a foolish youthful error. We are both gaining weight in the process, but these cupcakes are completely worth the extra inches / pounds! This recipe is adapted from one available on Epicurious.com - thanks to the commenters who mentioned that following the recipe as written would deliver an icky-sweet result.

These cupcakes were brought out for a very special occasion - a going-away party for Bryan's friends John and Beth. Beth had been the official baker for his office group of friends, sending in a cake to work with John on a regular basis. We decided it would be really nice to bake something for her to thank her for the many treats over the years. I started out baking chocolate cupcakes with my family's crater cake recipe, which I declare to be the best chocolate cake ever, when Bryan called to tell me that John doesn't like chocolate. With only a few hours left before the party, I needed a recipe for which I had all the ingredients, and after posting my dilemma on Facebook after realizing that the new cupcake cookbook I had purchased was nowhere to be found, I thought to look at Epicurious. To make a long story short, the cupcakes were a huge success, and several people from Bryan's office were all for crowning me the new office baker. Yeah...right...like my office would be o.k. with that! Maybe when I go into business...after my debut on the next Food Network Star! This is one recipe I'll memorize before my debut!

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

For reduced coconut milk:
2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups all purpose flour (King Arthur Flour, of course)
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar (or to taste)
1/3 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted

For reduced coconut milk:
Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to medium-low; boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For cupcakes:
Position rack in center of oven; preheat oven to 350°F. Line eighteen 1/3-cup muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until batter lightens in color and seems "airy". Beat in vanilla extract and remaining egg and beat for a few more minutes. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake cupcakes until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes in pans to rack; cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on rack.

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.
Using pastry bag fitted with large star tip, pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. (Alternatively, top each cupcake with 2 tablespoons frosting. Using small offset spatula, swirl frosting over top of cupcakes, leaving 1/2-inch plain border.) Cover with toasted coconut - as much as you can possibly get to stick. Enjoy!

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight containers; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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