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

Truffle-Centred Chocolate Cupcakes

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: 20 cupcakes
Recipe: 115/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 141

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    For years now, I have used the same recipe from Everyday Annie to make chocolate cupcakes or chocolate cakes, which is often. Those cakes are moist, very chocolaty and always a huge hit. They have never failed me and it is my go-to recipe when I need to make a tasty cake. I have never found a chocolate cake/cupcake recipe better than that one. Until now, perhaps. I had yet to make something stuffed with a truffle so was a bit doubtful about the mechanisms of such a feat, but I was very excited to try this recipe. It is a bit more involved than your normal cupcake recipe, but these are still very manageable and the benefit is tremendous. These cupcakes are scrumptious. Delectable. Heavenly. My friend and boyfriend had some first at a game night fresh out of the oven and frosted, and they were raving about them. They dared say that these were the best cupcakes that I had ever made. I thought, surely not. These guys are exaggerating. I had one and to my surprise and joy, they were not. These cupcakes are moist, chocolaty, with a nice soft chocolate truffle surprise in the middle. The frosting is just perfect. Not too sweet, not too rich, but a joy to make and an even better joy to spread and eat.

    I had some doubts regarding how the cupcakes would bake around and on top of the truffle, but they did so perfectly without any problems. It is however very important to not fill your cupcakes more than halfway. Also, I noticed after baking that my truffles were not in the center of the cupcake, but rather had sunk to the bottom (note: this did not impact the deliciousness factor of the truffle). It is possible that I had made them a bit too big as I only managed to make 18 instead of 20, so perhaps the extra little bit of weight was enough to drag the truffles down. To try to prevent this you should really aim to make 20 evenly-sized truffles and absolutely do not press them into the cupcakes at all when placing them (step 10).  I cannot emphasize this enough. Place the truffle as gently and delicately as possible on the top of the cupcake batter filled halfway. Apart from this, these cupcakes were simply perfect. They were so delicious that I did not feel the need to pimp them out at all, and decorating is actually my favorite part of baking! Do yourselves and your family, friends or colleagues a favour and make these cupcakes. Soon!

Ingredients for truffles:

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 2 oz (60 g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ⅔ cup + ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup + ½ cup milk
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Ingredients for frosting:

  • 3 oz (90 g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted, plus extra to adjust consistency if necessary

Directions:

  1. To prepare the truffles, heat the cream to a simmer and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then gently whisk to blend. Chill this mixture until set, about 2 hours.
  2. Spoon this ganache into 20 truffles, shaping them between your hands into 3/4-inch (2 cm) balls. Chill the truffles until ready to use.
  3. Preheat the over to 375°F and line 20 muffin cups with paper liners.
  4. For the cupcakes, melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepot over low heat, making sure to stir once in a while.
  5. Stir in ⅔ cup of the brown sugar and ⅓ cup of the milk. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
    • Note: Don’t worry if the mixture does not look smooth. It will even out later.
  6. Pour this mixture into a bowl and whisk in the remaining ⅔ cup of brown sugar. Cool to room temperature.
  7. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, blending after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
  8. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add this to the chocolate mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the remaining ½ cup of milk, starting and ending with the flour. Whisk well after each addition.
  9. Pour the batter, which will be quite fluid, into the prepared muffin cups, filling to halfway.
  10. Gently place a truffle in the centre of each cupcake. Do not press it in, as it will settle and become completely enveloped but the batter as it bakes. Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes, until the cupcake springs back when gently pressed. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.
  11. For the frosting, stir the chocolate and butter in a saucepot over low heat until melted. Transfer this to a bowl and whisk in the sour cream and vanilla extract.
  12. Beat in the icing sugar until the mixture is smooth and spreadable, adding a touch more icing sugar if needed. Spread or pipe the frosting onto each cupcake.

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Notes from Anna:

  • “For a cupcake to be a cupcake, it really needs frosting” – Anna Olson. I couldn’t agree more with this statement. For me, frosting is what makes the difference between a cupcake and a muffin.
  • The cupcakes should be stored at room temperature in an airtight container and will keep for up to 2 days. Do not refrigerate. 
  • If consumed within 24 hours of baking, the truffle filling will be soft and almost fluid. After a day, the truffle sets further, but it is still satisfyingly delicate.

Valerie

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: 16 cupcakes
Recipe: 101/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 136

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     The holiday period is an excellent time to have company over, and indeed within two days we were having two different groups of friends over. I thought I would make some nice lemon cupcakes for the occasion, as there were several lemon dessert lovers amongst the guests. These cupcakes have a little something special since they are topped with a meringue that is hiding a delicious lemon curd filling. This recipe was straightforward and incredibly tasty. There was no subtleness in the lemon flavour! It was all there and these little cupcakes were a hit amongst the parties. I think that the unexpected lemon curd filling makes them even better, like a little surprise of sorts! Definitely a successful recipe that I would repeat time and time again.

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 1/2  cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1  1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake and pastry flour*
  • 2  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons lemon curd or lemon marmalade

Ingredients for meringue:

  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2  teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 16 muffin cups with large paper liners.
  2. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until smooth.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pastry flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and lemon juice.
  6. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the butter mixture in three separate additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Blend well after each addition.
  7. Spoon the batter into the paper liners and bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed. Note: the batter will be quite thick. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 10 minutes, then remove them from the tins to cool completely.
  8. For the topping, preheat the oven to 375°F and place the cooled cupcakes on a baking tray. Spoon about a teaspoon of lemon curd or marmalade on top of each cupcake, keeping the filling as close to the centre as possible.
  9. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy, then slowly add the sugar while whipping. Whip the egg whites on high speed until they hold a stiff peak.
  10. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag and pipe swirls on top of each cupcake, making sure to completely cover the lemon curd or marmalade. Bake the cupcakes for 6-8 minutes, until the meringue browns slightly, and cool to room temperature.

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Notes from Anna:

  • To make room for even more lemon curdcor marmalade, you can spoon a little cake out of the centre of the cooled cupcakes.

Valerie

Frosted Vanilla Cupcakes

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Recipe: 90/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 280

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     It has been 9 months that I have not posted on my blog! Scandalous! I guess time just flew past me without me noticing. I have been so busy with my work and with one particular lovely and long-lasting blissful event that I forgot to take time to myself to bake. Well I never stopped baking per se and of course never forgot about this blog, but I have been baking a lot less than usual in these past months and not often from the cookbook when I was. I plan on stopping this 9-month hiatus immediately and getting back to it. Only 112 recipes to go!

    I volunteered to make baked good for a bake sale at work to support the Terry Fox Foundation and came upon this recipe in my never-forgotten book. I always hesitated to do this recipe because 1) it requires almond or soy milk, which I never have, but most importantly, margarine is used in the frosting and I never trusted that. However, for once I actually had almond milk in my fridge so I thought that it was time to let go of my doubts and give this recipe a try. The cupcakes came out much better than I thought. They were not hard to make and baked very well. I only realized when I was done mixing the batter that I hadn’t used any eggs at all! It was such a strange feeling to me since I don’t think I ever made egg-free cupcakes. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my oven to find golden tops that had risen. The frosting, in contrast, was quite a different story. I followed the recipe exactly, but it turned into a big mess. I had a gut feeling that 1/2 cup of milk was way to much for the amount of icing sugar required since normally only 3-4 tablespoons are used, but I went along with it and regretted it instantly. The frosting was very liquid, so much so that I wouldn’t even have been able to spread it (I tried). I ended up having to add a ton of icing sugar, hard to say since I was doing it by feel but anywhere from 3-4 additional cups, to make the frosting the right consistency to be able to pipe nicely. Since I added so much, it was very sweet, but still edible. In hindsight, I should have listened to my gut feeling and added the milk little by little, starting with 3-4 tablespoons. It is better to add milk than to have to add that much more icing sugar. The only reason that I can think of that could have altered the consistency of the frosting is that I had left the margarine out on the counter for maybe 30 minutes, but it had not softened that much. I don’t expect that it would have had that much of an impact. Nonetheless, the cupcakes tasted fine but I did not find that they had a lot of flavor to them, even with all the sugar. Another point to note is that because these cupcakes are egg-free and dairy-free, the texture was very different from your traditional cupcake recipe and the cupcake was all stuck in the muffin liner and was very difficult to remove. I would suggest baking these in silicone muffin liners if you have them to facilitate their removal, after which you can place the cupcakes in cute paper muffin liners if you wish.

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups almond or soy milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Ingredients for frosting:

  • 1 cup dairy-free margarine
  • 7 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup almond or soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two muffin trays with medium paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the almond or soy milk with the oil, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the liquids. Whisk vigorously until well blended. Note: The batter will not be very thick.
  5. Pour the batter into the paper-lined muffin tins, filling the cups two-thirds of the way full. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the muffin tin, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To prepare the frosting, beat together with a hand or stand mixer the margarine with half of the icing sugar. Mix until blended, then beat in the almond or soy milk and the vanilla extract. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Pipe or spread the frosting onto the cupcakes and store at room temperature.

Notes from Anna:

  • This recipe requires more sugar than your normal cupcake or cake recipe. This is because apart from adding sweetness, the sugar is essential to provide moistness since this recipe is  egg-free. With less sugar, the cupcakes would be dry and crumbly.

Suggestions to improve recipe:

  • Use silicone muffin liners when baking these egg-free and dairy-free cupcakes.
  • When making the frosting, do not add the whole 1/2 cup of milk at once. Start little by little, 3-4 tablespoons at a time, until you reach the desired consistency suitable for piping or spreading.

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Valerie

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: about 15 large cupcakes (or 12 large cupcakes and a dozen mini cupcakes)
Recipe: 30/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 137

Red velvet cupcakes

   I realized very recently that I hadn’t baked cupcakes for a long time. That is simply unacceptable. I love making, baking, decorating and eating cupcakes! At my previous work I used to make some every couple of weeks and bring them in. Perhaps it is because I focused on more complex or different recipes from Back to Baking, and hence (almost) forgot my passion for making cupcakes. I took advantage of a friend’s birthday this weekend to make these cute red velvet cupcakes. They were moist, tasty and the frosting was exquisite. It is the best cream cheese frosting I have tasted thus far, probably because I am not a huge fan of cream cheese (except in cheesecakes!) and that this frosting was more subtle. I must also disclose that albeit I do find them tasty, I never fully understood what red velvet cupcakes are supposed to taste like. Obviously, a chocolate cupcake tastes like chocolate and a vanilla cupcake like vanilla, but what about these? They contain both chocolate and vanilla in similar amounts, so in my mind red velvet cupcakes are supposed to taste like both. Please correct me if I am wrong. This recipe was a success nonetheless! They were all gone in an instant.

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 6 tablespoons (90 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons (90 mL) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 6 tablespoons (90 mL) white sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1  1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (175g or 6 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line muffin  tins with large muffin liners.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk the ingredients to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar using a hand or stand mixer.
  4. Add the egg, vanilla extract and red food coloring to the butter mixture and mix well until the mixture is homogenous and fluffy.
  5. In yet another bowl, mix together the buttermilk and white vinegar.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two additions, alternating with the buttermilk.
  7. Spoon the batter evenly between the muffin liners. Bake the large  cupcakes for 18-20 minutes and the small cupcakes for 10-12 minutes, until the top of the cupcakes springs back after being pushed down gently. Cool the cupcakes in the tin for 10 minutes before letting them cool completely on a rack.
  8. For the cream cheese frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese until the mixture is fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the icing sugar and vanilla extract and beat gently until the sugar is well incorporated. Pipe or spread the frosting on each cupcake.

Notes from Anna:

  • The cupcakes should be stored in the fridge but served at room temperature.
  • If you want a more natural red color, you can substitute the red food coloring with 3 tablespoons finely grated raw beets. In that case, use only 3/4 cup of buttermilk in the recipe.

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Valerie