My brain turns to mush a bit in the face of the tiny magical confections known as cupcakes. I know they’re poorly done a lot of the time, and can often lead to disappointment. I know they’re trendy. I know probably even blogging about them is completely passé. But these cupcakes…these cupcakes…need to have their moment in the spotlight.
Because we can’t stop eating them. They’re a whole room away from me right now and their siren song is almost deafening. I’ve already had one today and am desperately trying to justify another. I made them as an innocent valentine for Seth, and they’re quietly dominating our lives (at least for the last 24 hours):
“Should we watch the Olympics?”
“Oh snowboard-cross is on? Sweet.”
“Wait, do you hear that? Is it…singing? Coming from the kitchen?”
“AH MAH GAHD LET’S HAVE SOME CUPCAKES!!!! And watch the snowboard-cross.”
So that’s the situation. And here is the recipe, for extremely luscious vanilla coconut cupcakes with fluffy coconut frosting. The key is the inclusion of a full fat coconut milk reduction in both the frosting and the cakes. That extra step makes these a smidge more time consuming than your average cupcake, but I ask you this: can your average cupcake sing? Didn’t think so.
(Singing) Vanilla Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting
Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit, April 2009
Reduced Coconut Milk:
2 13-14 ounce cans full fat unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups all purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder*
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup reduced coconut milk, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 ½ cups sweetened flaked coconut (for garnish)
For reduced coconut milk:
Pour contents of 2 cans of coconut milk (all liquid and solids, it will be separated) into a deep saucepan and whisk until smooth and combined. Heat to a boil on medium-high, then reduce heat to medium low and boil until reduced to about 1 ½ cups, whisking occasionally, about 25 minutes (watch it because it will bubble over). Remove from heat and cool completely. Transfer to a small bowl and chill. The milk will settle so whisk again before addition to batter and frosting.
Position oven racks in center and preheat oven to 350˚. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, then beat on medium-high speed until well-blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in vanilla and remaining egg.
Add half the flour mixture, mix on low until just blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk, mix until just blended. Add remaining flour, mix on low until just blended.
Divide batter among muffin cups. Fill any empty cups with a ½ inch of water, for even baking. Bake cupcakes until tops are springy and a toothpick inserted comes out clean – about 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pans on rack for 10 minutes, then carefully remove cupcakes and cool completely on racks.
Using electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 1/3 cup of reduced coconut milk, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium-low until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy (you’ll know, just keep tasting it).
Frost each cupcake according to however you roll – pastry bag, spatula, whatever you like. Be generous – at least 2 tablespoons per cake. Garnish with flaked coconut and just try to ignore the siren song, which will begin immediately.
Makes 18 cupcakes.
* Just a note on baking powder – if yours is all pilly and hard and you’ve had it since, oh, 2004, buy yourself a new can. It’s about $2.49 and makes a huge difference when it does its leavening job correctly.