Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cupcakes for Vinh: Pina Colada (coconut) Cupcakes

y good friend Vinh asked me to help him create a coconut cupcake recipe that he could make. I'm not a fan of coconut desserts, so I didn't have a recipe I could just pull out of my back pocket to give him. After some research and tossing ideas around, we came up with a fabulous flavor combination: coconut cupcake with a cream cheese/pineapple frosting, topped with toasted shredded coconut.

1 box Betty Crocker White Cake mix
3 large eggs (room temp)
2/3 c. water (room temp)
1/3 c. oil
1/3 c+ 1/4 c coconut milk (shake the can!)

Follow mixing instructions on back of box, but using the ingredients listed above. I always beat the eggs until the whites have broken down before I the remaining liquid ingredients. I also mix the liquids before adding the dry cake mix. Tip: Be sure to break up lumps in the cake mix (just smash them with your fingers) while the plastic bag is still sealed. Do not over mix. Batter will be thick and lumpy. Follow bake times for cupcakes. This will make 24 cupcakes.

Now do not throw away the remaining coconut milk. Store the remaining milk in a container in the fridge over night. Do not shake it. It will separate, and we want it to!

Yes, there are only 23 cupcakes here. I had to taste test one. Coconut flavor wasn't very strong, it was just a hint of coconut.

8 oz cream cheese, full fat, the reduced-fat has too much water in it (room temp)
8 oz can of crushed pineapple (drained)
8 oz heavy cream
6 tspn coconut cream
5 tbsn powdered sugar
1/2 tspn pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 c sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Remember the coconut milk you have sitting in the fridge (separating)? Do not mix! It has now separated such that you have pure coconut cream floating on top. Skim off  6 tspn of cream and set aside

1. Toast coconut according to package instructions, cool, and place in a bowl. I couldn't find unsweetened coconut for the life of me. Just try to find a brand that is fairly dry. Some brands add water to keep it "fresh."
2. You want to get rid of as much of the pineapple liquid as you can (you might reserve it on the side for later use). I didn't drain mine and had to add 1/8 tspn of xanthum gum at the end to thicken it up. Puree and set aside.
3. Place clean and dry beaters and bowl in the freezer. Also place the heavy cream in the freezer. We want everything super cold to help the whip cream set up properly. If you only have one set of beaters, skip to step 4.
4. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in 2 tbsn of powdered sugar, mix well. Add 1/2 c pineapple puree, mix well. Add 3 tspn coconut cream. Place mixture in fridge to thicken up. If after 30 minutes, mixture is still runny, I would suggest adding just a touch of xanthum gum.
4a. Do step 3, leave in freezer for 10-15 minutes.
5. Take beaters, bowl, and cream out of the freezer. Beat cream until bubbles form. Add 3 tbsn powdered sugar, mix well. Cream should start to thicken slightly. Add vanilla and 3 tspn coconut cream. Beat until cream is thick and holds shape. Do not over beat, you'll end up with butter and water. It's a mess that cannot be salvaged. Place cream in fridge for about 15 min.
6. Take cream cheese mixture and whipped cream out of fridge. Mix in a quarter of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Once incorporated, fold in another quarter of the whipped cream. Finally fold in the remaining half of the cream cheese. Place frosting in fridge for about 30 minutes to set up. If you used xanthum gum, you can skip to step 7.
7. Frost cupcakes. I put the frosting in a freezer bag and "piped" it on. I then smoothed out the frosting with a knife. Dip frosted cupcake in bowl of toasted coconut, shake off excess coconut.

8. Eat cupcake. If cupcakes aren't going to be eaten within a couple of hours, refrigerate them. Remember, there's lots of dairy in the frosting!

The toasted coconut added a nice little crunch. I'm not sure if how they'll fair once they start soaking up liquid from the frosting. I would suggest leaving off the toasted coconut until right before serving.

If you eat the cupcake with just cake and frosting, it's a bit tart. The toasted coconut is just sweet enough to balance it out. One thing I did notice is that you can't really taste the pineapple. Overall, this turned out pretty good. It's not overly sweet, if anything it's not sweet enough. The coconut taste is pleasantly subtle.

Let me know how you make out with these puppies.

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