Spiced Coconut Cupcakes

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: 18 cupcakes
Recipe: 124/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 140

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    I had been craving cupcakes since the beginning of the quarantine and had yet to bake some. Normally I would go for moist comforting chocolate cupcakes, but yesterday I decided to try something new and made these spiced coconut cupcakes. The spice blend for this recipe seemed interesting and I was quite curious about the black pepper. I don’t think I’ve ever used black pepper in a dessert recipe before! Turns out that it works very well indeed.

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons cake and pastry flour *
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon fancy molasses
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, separated

Ingredients for frosting:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • Sweetened flaked coconut, for garnish

* You can substitute  1 cup of cake and pastry flour with 1 cup minus two tablespoons of all purpose flour  supplemented with two tablespoons of cornstarch.

    I really enjoyed making these cupcakes. Folding the whipped egg whites into the liquid mixture was quite therapeutic for me and I loved the texture of the batter. It was quite thick for a cupcake batter but made for lovely tender and bouncy little cakes. I thought the frosting was a bit too sweet on its own due to the icing sugar and because I kept adding a little bit at a time to try to get the right consistency for the frosting, but with the cupcake together it is the perfect balance. This is one of my favorite recipes I’ve tried recently, and I’ve made quite a few! These cupcakes were simply delicious and, guess what, they go very well with tea. My boyfriend and I enjoyed them so much that we were singing “it feels good… like sugar and spice” (on the beat of “I Feel Good” by James Brown of course) while eating them. We were very amused by the pun and by how fitting the song  is for these cupcakes.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper or silicone liners.
  2. Sift the flour, ½ cup of sugar, the brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl and whisk together to combine.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the oil, buttermilk, molasses and vanilla extract. Beat for one minute with electric beaters or vigorously by hand with a whisk.
  4. Add the egg yolks and beat for another minute.
  5. In a separate bowl and using clean beaters, whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually, pour in the remaining ½ cup of sugar and whip until the whites hold a stiff peak.
  6. Gently fold the whites into the batter and spoon into the muffin cups.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when pressed gently. Allow them to cool in the tin.
  8. For the icing, beat the butter until fluffy. On low speed, beat in 1 ¾ cups of the icing sugar, then add the coconut milk. Beat in the vanilla and coconut extract (if using), then beat in the remaining 1 ¾ cups of the icing sugar. If the icing is too thin, add a touch more icing sugar, and if it is too thick, add a bit more coconut milk. Spread the icing onto the cupcakes and garnish with shredded coconut. Sprinkle each cupcake with flaked coconut as a garnish.
    • Note: I tried spreading the frosting on the cooled cupcakes using a spatula and found it to be tricky because the frosting was not as thick as I would have liked (and I didn’t want to add even more icing sugar for fear of it becoming to sweet). What I found worked well for me is to invert the cupcake and dip it directly into the frosting to coat the top completely. I let it harden a bit on each cupcake and repeated once more to have a nice layer of coconut frosting. Sprinkle with the flaked coconut after the second coating and voilà! Delicious spiced coconut cupcakes.

Valerie

Lime Coconut Medallions

Cookies, Bars and Biscotti

Yield: about 2 ½ dozens
Recipe: 123/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 28

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    The next quarantine baked goods that I decided to try was these cute lime and coconut medallions. These cookies are essentially shortbread, as they are tender and a little crumbly. When I formed the logs the mixture seemed quite dry and I was doubtful that it would bake properly and hold its shape, but I needn’t worry. Once in the oven the butter melted and held everything together. I did cut these cookies a little bit thicker than indicated in the recipe just because I was worried that they would not hold their shape and crumble otherwise, and I quite enjoyed them as such. I don’t think I ever made a dessert combining lime and coconut so I was not sure what to expect, but these came out great. The lime and coconut flavours are at the same time distinct and not overpowering. They go together very well and make for delightful little citrusy-coconuty cookies. These definitely pass the test of evening tea accompagnement!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut in pieces
  • 1 egg white, lightly whisked

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread ½ cup of the coconut onto an ungreased baking tray and toast for 10 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes to make sure that the coconut doesn’t burn. Allow to cool.
  2. Pulse the flour, sugar, lime zest and salt in a food processor to combine.
  3. Add the butter and pulse just until the dough is crumbly.
  4. Add the ½ cup of cooled, toasted coconut and pulse until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into 2 logs about 1¼ inches across  and 6 inches long. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. Pull the dough out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before slicing.
  6. Place the remaining ½ cup of untoasted coconut onto a plate. Unwrap the dough and lightly brush each log with the whisked egg white, then roll them in the coconut to coat. Slice the cookies into medallions about ¼ inch thick and place them on the baking trays, leaving one inch space between them.
  7. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until they brown just slightly on the bottom. Cool the cookies on the tray before removing.

Valerie

Blueberry Coconut Custard Mini Tarts

Pies and Tarts

Yield: about 18 mini tarts
Recipe: 108/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 278

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     My boyfriend and I made these tarts for a friend’s birthday at work. He really likes coconut so we thought that this would be the perfect time to try a new recipe. Unfortunately, everything went wrong with this recipe. The crust was not working at all for us. When we mixed together all the ingredients, the crust was not crumbly at all and was just a dry mess. It would not stick together at all, so we had to improvise and add some (a lot!) honey and vegetable oil until the mixture would at least stick together a little bit. Pressing the graham crust into the mini muffin tins took much longer than expected, but that was not the least of our worries. The coconut filling also did not work out as expected. Although we followed everything exactly, the mixture was very liquid, similar to heavy cream. We simmered it for a longer period of time to try to get it to thicken and we let it cool down in the fridge for many more hours, but it barely thickened at the end. Sadly, these mini tarts looked very cute but did not taste good at all. The crust tasted strange and the filling did not taste like coconut much. We were very disappointed that this recipe didn’t work for us and I cannot think of anything that we may have done wrong! To be repeated.

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Key Lime Pie crust
  • 1 can (398 mL) coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 24-cup mini muffin tin.
  2. Prepare the graham crust and press it into the bottom and sides of the muffin cups. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool to room temperature.
  3. Pour the coconut milk into a saucepot and scrape in the seeds of the vanilla bean (or stir in the vanilla bean paste).
  4. In a bowel, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk into the coconut milk, then turn the heat to medium and whisk until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens, about 6 minutes.
  5. Scrape the custard into a bowl, cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap and allo to cool completely to room temperature.
  6. One cooled, spoon the coconut filling into the mini tart shells and top each with 3 blueberries. Chill for at least 2 hours in the muffin tin before taking them out to serve.

Valerie

Raspberry Pecan Tart

Pies and Tarts

Yield: one 9-inch tart
Recipe: 102/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 116

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     After several months of not posting any new recipes from Anna’s cookbook, I decided that it was time to remedy this! I “owed” my boyfriend two cakes due to two lost bets, and as per his request I made this delicious-looking raspberry and pecan tart, two of his favourite foods. I was happy to finally have a recipe to do and a dessert to make, and it was no trouble at all to do. I am typically not a fantastic dough maker, but since I had already made the nut-crust tart shell required for this recipe, I new what to improve (add a bit more water to obtain the right texture! This is temperature- and kitchen-dependent!)  and got it perfectly right I think. The shell was easy to slice and bite through yet did not crumble to pieces. The tart itself was very good. The filling is slightly gooey with a nice crunch provided by the pecans, and the sweet burst of juice and flavour from the raspberries was very pleasant.  I was not expecting it, but the coconut was the perfect combination in this tart, providing both a good bite and some sweetness. We devoured it in a matter of days. Strongly recommended for an uncomplicated light dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Nut-Crust Tart Shell recipe, baked and cooled
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups roughly chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place the pan containing the baked crust onto a baking tray until it cools down to room temperature.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk and vanilla extract until blended.
  3. Stir in the pecans, coconut, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well to combine.
  4. Gently fold in the raspberries.
  5. Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and bake on the tray for about 45-50 minutes, until evenly browned and set. Cool the tart to room temperature in the pan before removing the outer ring of the pan to slice. The tart can be served at room temperature or chilled.

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Valerie

Coconut Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 8-inch two-layer cake
Recipe: 98/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 148

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     I enjoy coconut desserts as much as the next girl, and since it had been quite some time I decided to make a nice big cake – for no occasion at all other than pure enjoyment. Simply put, the cake is delicious. The coconut flavour is subtle, but the coconut flakes mixed in the batter give the cake a very nice texture. The cake is dense but still moist, as it should. Coupled with the heavenly and beautiful glossy-white seven-minute frosting, the cake looks superb. I would advise not putting too much frosting between the two layers, since when I did so the cake is so heavy that most of the frosting was pushed to the outside! What I particularly like about this frosting is that it hardens as it cools, thus making it lovely in appearance. I keep it on a cake stand on my kitchen table covered with a transparent bowl, and whenever I lift it I get a whiff of coconut – lovely!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 recipe Seven-Minute Frosting
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans, tapping out any excess flour, then line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper.
  2. Using  a hand or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 3/4 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg yolks and beat well, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture in three separate additions, alternating with the coconut milk, while mixing at low speed.
  6. Stir in the toasted coconut flakes and mix well. The batter will be quite dense.
  7. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they are foamy, then slowly pour in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Whip at high speed using a hand or stand mixer until the whites form a soft peak.
  8. Fold half of the whites into the cake batter and mix gently until almost all of the egg whites are incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites until evenly incorporated.
  9. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake in the pans for 20 minutes, then turn the cakes out to cool to room temperature completely before frosting with the Seven-Minute Frosting. Frost the cake layers with an offset spatula, making swirls as you go. Press the coconut flakes onto the sides of the cake and let the cake set, uncovered, for 1 hour. The cake will keep well, covered, at room temperature for 3 days.

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Valerie