04 June 2009

Coconutty

I've been thinking a lot about dessert lately. About how much I like to make dessert. About what I like to eat. And about what other people like to eat. More specifically, I've been thinking about pie. See, I have a project involving pie, but I don't want to tell you about it--not yet. I will, soon, I promise. All my thinking means that I've been looking through my millions of dessert recipes for inspiration, pie-related and otherwise. So when we were invited to dinner for tonight, with a request to bring dessert, I knew exactly what I wanted to make.


This never happens. I mean, I usually hem and haw and choose something and then something else. I'll put in a call to my mom, and try ideas out on various and sundry ears. This time it was different. See, I had to clean out my massive stack of cooking magazines, and, in a fit of extreme organization, I collated all the recipes I wanted to try out into a nice, neat, less than half-pound notebook. Fresh from that little escapade (collating, whoo!!) I had in mind a coconut mint cake. Reading the recipe, though, I wrinkled my nose at the thought of making a double layer cake. Cupcakes, though... perfect.


And they are delicious. The coconut milk-sweetened condensed milk mix makes the cupcakes really moist and lovely, and the mint whipped cream was a nice addition, too. Next time, though, I think I would make a not-terribly-sweet mint buttercream frosting instead, since the whipped cream doesn't travel well. And despite the strong presence of coconut, they are very mild. I refrigerated them before we ate them, and I think that helped the consistency, too; I suggest you do the same.

Coconut-Mint Cream Cupcakes, adapted from Food and Wine

cupcakes
1 1/3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 + 1/4 cup sugar, divided
2 large egg whites
10 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
10 tablespoons coconut cream (the thick stuff on the top of a can of coconut milk--I needed two cans worth of milk and saved the rest)

mint whipped cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup heaving whipping cream, chilled

sweetened flaked coconut, for garnish

1. cakes Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake tins with liners, and set aside.

2. Sift cake flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Mix milk and vanilla extract into a small bowl, and set aside.

3. Beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture in several batches, alternating, and beating just to blend after each addition.

4. With clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter in 3 additions.

5. Pour batter into muffin tins. Bake until tester comes out clean; check at 15 minutes. (Be very careful with your timing here--cupcakes can go from perfect to terrible in about 2 minutes.)

6. Meanwhile, combine condensed milk and coconut cream in a small bowl.

7. Remove cakes from oven and let cool 5 minutes. Poke holes all over top of each cake layer with toothpick. Pour coconut cream mixture by large spoonfuls over cakes, allowing mixture to be absorbed before adding more. Cool completely in pans.

1. mint whipped cream Stir mint, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Cook just until bubbles appear. Cover and remove from heat, let steep 30 minutes.

2. Strain syrup into large bowl, pressing on mint. Cool completely. Add 3/4 cup whipping cream to syrup and beat until firm peaks form. Turn cakes out of pans, and frost.

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