Coconut Cupcakes

Happy Easter everyone!  And congratulations to those of you who made Lenten sacrifices – you made it!  One of my Lenten sacrifices this year was sweets. It was easy in the beginning and through the middle of Lent, but the last 10 days or so have been terrible!    So, I was very pleased to be asked to bring dessert to Easter dinner. 

Coconut cake is a big Easter favorite for that crowd, but most folks are trying to limit their sweets so making a whole coconut cake seemed like a lot of trouble for not much return.  Cupcakes are always good and it’s easy to take the leftovers to the office.  Of course not everyone likes coconut so making cupcakes also allows you to vary the frosting and have something for everyone.  I started with a basic 1-2-3-4 cake:  one cup of milk, one cup (2 sticks) of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs.  Easy.  It’s a nice white cake without a lot of crumb so it’s easy to frost.  The batter is very thick which makes it a little harder to deal with on the cupcake front, but still not too bad.  With a cake like this it’s the frosting that counts.

I did a chocolate buttercream for half and followed a Paula Deen coconut cake recipe for the other half.  The picture only shows a dozen cupcakes, but the recipe actually makes two dozen.  Easy enough to halve it.

So, I have an announcement to make…Today I made Seven Minute Frosting in seven minutes!  And it was perfect!  Clearly an Easter miracle.  In the interest of full disclosure I should confess that it was the second attempt at said frosting.  I made the first batch sans the water and it came out so grainy I had to throw it away.  I was so irritated that I decided to do a whipped cream frosting instead.  I put the cream and sugar in a mixing bowl and mixed for about 2 minutes before I realized that the cream was half and half and would never turn into whipped cream.  Down the sink with frosting number two.  Back to frosting one, attempt two.

I won’t know for sure until I manage to replicate this wonderful fluff, but I think the key here is to beat the ingredients together in the top of the double boiler before you put it on the heat.  Bring the water to a boil while you’re doing that.  Then put the bowl on top of the boiling water pot and crank the mixer up to high.  Seven minutes later a lovely fluff with the most beautiful shine.  Frost your cake or cupcakes while the frosting is warm.  It’ll set up when it cools. 

I added a little toasted coconut to the top and pressed it in just a touch.  That helps keep it from falling off once the frosting has set.  And it adds exactly the right touch to make these a little extra special.  They were a big hit at the family Easter dinner.

Good? So good.  And not just because I gave them up for Lent.
Easy? The cake, yes. The frosting, no.
Good for company? Cupcakes are for sharing.
Special shopping? Nope.

Coconut Cupcakes

Ingredients

Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 cupcake pans. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among cupcake liners, filling each 2/3-3/4 full. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.

7-Minute Frosting

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 C coconut, toasted (optional)

Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Pat toasted coconut on top.

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