Happy Birthday Cupcakes

coconut-cupcakesYesterday, one of my very close friends celebrated a big-ish birthday – youngster that she is. Coconut cake is one of her favorites. Mine, too.

I love, love, love, the Barefoot Contessa coconut cupcakes, but anything that has 1 1/2 pounds of butter per recipe is something that I can’t see making these days. I have to wear adjustable waist pants just thinking about those devils. And, while the recipe that I made wasn’t “lite”, it only had 3/4 pound butter, between the cupcakes and the frosting, and made a lot of cupcakes – 18 regular and 24 minis, to be exact.
I started with the addition of plenty of vanilla and almond extract like Ina Garten’s version, then went to the vanilla cupcake recipe from Magnolia Bakery, and doctored their cupcake recipe (do you keep self-rising flour at your house?).

My favorite coconut cakes have lemon curd in between the layers, and I wanted that in a cupcake, too. To fill before or to fill after baking, that was the question. I chose to fill the cupcakes before baking, because the recipes that I looked at on the web were pretty vague and some required serious cutting into the cupcakes, filling and replacing the top. Remember, I like great food, and I’m willing to spend time for good results, but I’m not a masochist – and, I do need to get to school pick-up at a certain time.

And, lemon curd. Normally, I make it myself, with lemons from my backyard. But, those lemons are a bit sparse right now – as was my time. I looked at labels at the supermarket and bought a brand that had the least “additional” ingredients – only a couple beyond butter, eggs, lemon, and sugar. And the additional ingredients did not have scary, unrecognizable names (and NO high fructose corn syrup).

For frosting, I go between the classic 7-minute frosting with coconut sprinkled on top and the Ina Garten version, cream cheese frosting with coconut on top. This time, I used the cream cheese frosting – with about 1/2 as much butter and cream cheese as the Contessa. I think next time, I’ll go for the 7-minute marshmallowy variety.

The results of my first coconut cupcake foray were a success. Even L, who is not a coconut fan, enjoyed one (without the coconut on top). And, S & J asked for seconds.

As for me, I may need those adjustable waist pants after all.


Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Inspired by Barefoot Contessa and Magnolia Bakery (references above)

For the cupcakes
2 3/4 cup flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup angel flake coconut (or other shredded, sweetened coconut)
1 jar lemon curd (or about 1 cup homemade lemon curd)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake tins – line regular cupcake tins with cupcake papers, lightly grease mini-cupcake tins. This recipe makes about 18 regular + 24 mini, or at least 24 regular sized cupcakes.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cream butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, to the butter/sugar until light and fluffy. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so that you won’t have lumps of butter/sugar. Add extracts to the milk. On low speed of your mixer, add dry ingredients and milk/extracts mixture, alternately – beginning and with the dry ingredients. This should be about 5 additions of dry and 4 of wet. After the last addition of dry ingredients, scrape down the bowl and fold in the coconut.

For the mini-cupcakes – fill the cupcake tins 2/3 full. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cupcakes are lightly brown and spring back to the touch.

For the lemon filled regular sized cupcakes, fill the cupcake molds about 1/2 full. Add approximately 1 1/2 tsp. lemon curd in the middle of each cupcake. Cover each with about 1 heaping Tbsp. more of cupcake batter. The cupcake mold will be about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cupcakes are lightly brown and spring back to the touch.

For the Frosting
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 lb. confectioners sugar (about 3 cups), sifted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup angel flake coconut

Cream the butter. Add the cream cheese and mix together until well combined. Add confectioners sugar and the extracts. Mix together at medium speed until well combined and fluffy – do not over mix.

Frost cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle the tops, liberally, with the coconut. Refrigerate, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.


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