Sunday, March 23, 2008

Week 12: Easter Cupcakes; Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting


Hi friends! Happy Easter to you and your dearest ones, whomever they might be! It has been a challenge for me lately to juggle all the things before me, but somehow baking has become my respite and an escape in the chaos. This whole Daylight Savings Time AND a Leap Year should technically have given me an extra day and lots more "time in the day" but more daylight does not = more time. Like say, a 28 hour day would!

I am sure as most of you know, from surfing around the internet, there are many wonderfully talented bakers (both professional and amateur). I, myself, fall into the second category. I have so much fun reading blogs, looking at pictures of finished creations and learning "how to" from other websites I read daily. I feel my skills have really come a long way in a short time. I will admit, there are those moments when I will read some of my favorite blogs multiple times daily (while I am at work - geez I hope my boss isn't reading this!) simply to get a dose of inspiration. Often times it is reading and seeing fabulous pictures which makes me want to try different methods I am used to.

There are also those moments I wish all I had to do was bake. Unfortunately, life gets too busy and I have to make time to get into my kitchen and bake. There are occasions I am not getting started on projects until after my little guy goes to bed at night. But when I get started, it is like magic. I love it. Baking gives me the opportunity to clear my head and have time to think, create... EAT! It is a splendid reward system.

I told you recently about The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, if you have not checked it out, you really should. I spent Easter at my Aunt and Uncle's home. I wanted to bring a dessert which was not too heavy. For some reason, coconut seems to be on many people's minds these days. Plus it is so versatile. I wanted to try Melissa's Fluffy Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting. These cupcakes are delicious!

Now onto the good stuff, this recipe is truly a delight. I used the Reynolds Wrap "Jumbo" cupcake liners and they were the perfect size for these birds nests! Let me know how you make out should you decide to try these!

Best!

Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes
Yields 14 Jumbo Cupcakes
20 tablespoons (2 1/2) sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
9 large egg whites, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking pan with paper liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. In separate large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and vanilla.

4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix well after each addition but be careful not to overmix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix on medium-high speed for 10 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

5. In the very clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the very clean whip attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold medium stiff peaks.

6. Using a rubber spatula, briskly fold one-third of the meringue mixture into the batter to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining meringue until just combined.

7. Divide the batter equally between lined cupcake pans. Use a spatula to level the batter.

8. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when touched with your finger, and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a rack to cool for several minutes before turning out onto the rack to cool completely.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sweetened cream of coconut
3 cups sweetened coconut flakes (see below for adjustment to recipe)

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar on low speed, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until fluffy and smooth, 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until just combined, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not overbeat. Decrease the speed to low and add the vanilla and cream of coconut and mix until just combined.

3. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Let the frosting come to room temperature and beat with the mixer slightly before using.

4. For this recipe, follow "Toasted Coconut" directions below.
(Toasted Coconut)

Toasted Coconut

3 cups sweetened coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.

2. Spread flaked coconut on a large cookie sheet and put into the oven. Keep a watchful eye on coconut and stir to mix levels of coconut every 2 minutes. Edges will brown first, so continue stirring every few minutes until coconut turns light and toasted.

The birds and beaks are made from my classic buttercream frosting and tinted with Wilton gel colors.

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