Saturday, February 04, 2006

Barefoot Contessa Coconut Cupcakes

I just adore coconut (if you couldn't already tell), but I also have a deep love for cupcakes. At our wedding in September we decided to forgo the wedding and grooms cakes for a huge table full of assorted cupcakes, cookies, and miniature white chocolate rum banana puddings (sound good?). It was a hit, and my favorite of all of the offerings were the coconut cupcakes, which looked like sweet little clouds.

(photo credit: David Luttrell)

When asked to make a dessert for a birthday party this weekend, I was immediately struck with a craving for coconut cupcakes (or, well, coconut in general). I suppose I could have called up the bakery we used for the wedding--the unparalleled Magpie's here in Knoxville--but I was also thinking about some other delectable cupcakes I have had, the recipe coming from Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame. Since I had the recipe in my hot little hands, and was already daydreaming about the incredible icing, I decided that the cupcakes were a go for the weekend.

The recipe is pretty simple, and is made even easier with a good, sturdy stand mixer. I like to set my butter out the night before baking, so it is nice and soft the next morning.

Coconut Cupcakes
from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
makes 12-16

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
.5 teaspoon baking powder
.25 teaspoon baking soda
.25 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
.75 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
.75 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
.75 teaspoon pure almond extract
.5 cup buttermilk
1 7-ounce package flaked sweetened coconut, divided
Cream cheese icing (recipe to follow)

Line muffin cups with paper baking cups, and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer speed to low, and add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium high 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and almond extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat again briefly.

Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Fold in only 1 1/3 cups of the coconut.

Use an ice cream scoop to fill each muffin cup almost full with batter. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 22 to 28 minutes on the center rack, until the cupcake tops are golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

If you bake 2 pans at once, switch them out (put the bottom pan on the top and the top on the bottom) halfway through cooking so they brown evenly.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely, and then top them with cream cheese icing. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. If you want to freeze these, store them unfrosted in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 weeks. To serve unfrosted cupcakes that have been frozen, allow to thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving, then ice and serve them. Makes about 16 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Icing

Do not consider skipping the sifting of the powdered sugar or you will have unattractive white lumps in your icing.

2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
.5 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
.5 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
.25 teaspoon pure almond extract
2.5 cups sifted powdered sugar
Remaining coconut

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and almond extract until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in as much of the remaining sugar as needed to reach a comfortable spreading consistency.

Spread each cooled cupcake with the cream cheese icing and then top with the remaining coconut. An easy way to do this is to turn each iced cupcake upside-down and press gently into the coconut to make it adhere. The strawberry garnish was a whim for the photo, wholly unecessary. I will tell you, though, that the icing is postivitely luscious spread on fresh strawberries. Not that I did this. Over the sink with knife in hand. No sir.

Mrs. C.


Anonymous said...

You are so GD cute and I am so making these for dinner with The Good Doctor.


LE said...

I love coconut ANYTHING. They sound perfect as is, but what about an occasional addition of chocolate to the frosting?

Marianne said...

I think that a chocolate cream cheese frosting sounds outrageously good, Ellie. I would try adding either some really good cocoa powder, or (even better), so good quality melted chocolate. Let me know if you try this!

Skeezix said...

Mrs. Canada, can I convince you to run away from your husband to come live with me?

Since leaving your adorable husband probably isn't going to happen will you please send me some cupcakes? I love Ina and would sell my first born for her kitchen.

Your blog is my new favorite thing, and I'm particularly jealous of your halioumi post a couple of days ago. I desperately want to try Halioumi and cannot find it in my dumb small town.

Marianne said...

Aw, you are so sweet! The Mr. might fight you for me, though, he's grown accustomed to being fed on a regular basis. You really need to make those cupcakes, they are out of this world good.

As for the Halloumi, you could always try ordering it. There are several online cheese shops, and even has a wide selection. It seems like the kind of cheese that would travel pretty well, in my estimation. I love it a lot.

Skeezix said...

Ohh, maybe I will order it from online. I can't even find goddamn gruyere cheese in this podunk.

PS. Tell your hubby I'll meet him in the alley at 5:15pm and to be forwarned that I'm bringing my nunchucks and Chuck Norris skills.

Marianne said...

No Gruyere! Now that's just criminal.

I will give him fair warning. By the way, I've been reading your blog and it is fascinating! I want to see more of your work.

Skeezix said...

Stay tuned, I am updating with my 1 year photos tonight. Don't you just love that I've posted my boobs all over the internet?

I'm going to PM you my professional site and you can take look at some of my pro work. (I am minorly obessessed with food photography and really need to get my act back into it).

Also, you are almost entirely responsible for me blowing off a good portion of my work today because I love reading your posts.

Marianne said...

I'd love your professional opinion sometime, the food photography has been really fun for me.

And I'm so proud of what you did. One of my good friends had a breast reduction about 6 years ago, and she just had a little girl and is breastfeeding and everything. It changed her life.

Skeezix said...

It totally has changed my life. I think it is the A#1 thing I could have ever done for myself.

I should tell you about the time I tried to make chocolate bowls and ended up with balloons dipped in chocolate exploding all over my kitchen.

PS. You have a PM on JBC

LE said...

I made this last night. For half the batch of icing, I melted in a handful of Ghiradelli chocolate chips and finely chopped almonds. Oh. My. God.