Friday, May 06, 2011

Recipe: Triple Coconut Cupcakes (When Double Coconut Cupcakes just aren't enough for your coconut needs.)

What is it about coconut that you either love it or hate it? Some of the folks I know can't stand this nut, while my family and I are all for it.

I suspect my Jamaican heritage is at play here, as well as in my rabid love of all things mango.

To whit, when I took a pastry class, lo these many years ago, one of the recipes was for coconut cake. Mind you, this isn't just a recipe for white cake with a marshmallow-like frosting that has toasted coconut sprinkled on top. This is coconut cream and coconut extract, coconut buttercream frosting and toasted coconut. Or you could try to mix it up with a coconut cream cheese frosting.

Triple Coconut Cake with Mods for Cupcakes
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated by the Cooking School of the Rockies and again by moi.
Cake recipe with Mile high elevation changes listed in parentheses.

5 lg egg whites @ room temp
3/4 c cream of coconut
1/4 c water
1 lg egg, room temp
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 c cake flour (Add 1/4 c extra flour for mile high elevation for a total of 9.8 oz cake flour)
1 c sugar (Less 1/4 cup sugar for elevation)
1 tbsp (Only 2 tsp in CO) baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened (I've used salted butter and just dropped the amount of salt added by 1/4 tsp, works fine.)

1. Set oven to 325°F (340°F for elevation) with rack set to middle position. Lightly coat 2 9" round cake pans w/ veg oil spray and then line bottoms w/ parchment paper circles.
2. Whisk egg whites, cream of coconut, water, whole egg and extracts together in lg bowl and set aside.
3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Beat in the butter, one piece at a time, with an electric mixer on low speed until the mix resembles coarse crumbs, about 2-5 min.
4. Add 1 c of egg mixture, increase speed to med-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 sec. Add the remaining egg mix in a steady stream and continue to beat until batter is combined, about 30 sec, scraping down the bowl as needed. Batter will be very thick.
5. Divide batter evenly between pans and smooth tops. Bake approx 30-35 min, rotating pans half way through baking time.
6. Cool cake in pans 10 min on wire racks. Run a small knife around cake edge to loosen and then invert onto racks. Remove parchment paper, let cool completely before frosting, 1-2 hrs.

Mods for Cupcakes:
1. Set oven to 340°F. Oil muffin tins or use cupcake liners.
2. If you don't have cake flour, you can use 7/8 c AP flour + 2 tbsp cornstarch for every cup called for in the recipe. Total weight again is 9.8 oz. The cupcakes were no longer dished in the center when I did it this way.
3. Stick with 3/4 c of sugar for high elevation as called for in recipe.
4. Baking time will be less than 30 min. Check with toothpick after 15-20 min, being sure to rotate after 15 min.
5. Makes approximately 21 cupcakes when I used an ice cream scoop to ladle out identical amounts in each muffin tin. I highly recommend the ice cream scoop method of batter portioning. That way, they're all the same size and should bake at the same rate. Also, fewer arguments about this one getting a bigger/smaller cupcake than that one.

Coconut Buttercream Frosting
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
16 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (If your butter is salted, don't bother with the pinch of salt. You may notice the frosting being salty, or it may just cut down the sweetness a little. Try it, if that's all you have on hand, and see if you like it that way. I do.)
1/4 c cream of coconut
3 c confectioners sugar, sifted
2 c toasted sweetened, shredded coconut

Stir cream, extracts and salt together until salt dissolves. Beat butter and cream of coconut in a lg bowl w/electric mixer at med-high speed until smooth, about 20 sec. Reduce speed to med-low, slowly add confectioners sugar, and beat until smooth, 2-5 min. Beat in the cream mixture. Increase speed to med-high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4-8 minutes. Assemble cake and press toasted coconut onto sides and sprinkle across top. For cupcakes, you can either slather it on with a palette knife or use an icing bag and a large tip like the Wilton 1M. Pretty!

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
8oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c butter, room temperature
1/4 c cream of coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
3-4 c confectioner's sugar, sifted

Mix cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Add cream of coconut and extracts until combined. Add confectioner's sugar 1 cup at a time until frosting is thick and smooth. Top with toasted coconut.

Now, be careful! These things are addictive.


If you need help, call me and I'll throw myself on a batch for you. Ayup.

Hatchet: keeping the world safe from unwanted cupcake consumption.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything

just happens to also be my age. The age that I turned back in March.

For my birthday, there was no cake and no party and no hullaballoo. I went to dinner with Eric and we made a quiet evening of it. A day later, however, we went to a fancy party for the Colorado Environmental Coalition and I was able to spend the evening with like-minded eco-conscious folks. A  dinner where I get to talk about backyard chickens, composting and gardening? And no one looks at me like I'm crazy? Sign me up! We ate seriously delicious food and we even got a chance to dress up.

Since I have few dresses these days (Being a SAHM means your fancy clothes wardrobe is generally limited to the "nice" jeans and the "clean" shirt.), I begged my friend Misty to go dress shopping with me.

This may have been a mistake.

She convinced me to buy not one, not two, but four dresses because they were far too cute to leave behind. I fell for the dresses and wandered out of the store a little poorer, but with a greater selection of fun dresses to wear on fancy occasions. Here's the blue dress.
Hatchet at 42

I tell you this to give you fair warning that I'll probably post a picture of the crazy, fancy, red dress that I bought since I have another dinner with the CEC later this month. I needed a red dress, you see. I think every woman does. Long, swishy, sexy. I had to have it.

Related to the dresses and getting older and all that jazz, Eric and I have taken up weight lifting again to attempt to get into better shape. We tried going to the gym back in November, but Logan put the kibosh on that thought by screaming like a Banshee being attacked with a buzzsaw. It wasn't a pretty sight. Or sound. Apparently all of those kids were too much for his tiny brain.

A few months later, though, and everything is OK. He and Emma are excited to go visit the gym and be dropped off in daycare. Suddenly, we get to go workout and have a short break from the kids! It's like a mini-vacation where you get to tote heavy bales voluntarily! Golly!

Now if only I could make myself stop making cupcakes! I bet I could actually lose weight if I did that. The draw of the cupcakes is too strong, though. At least, so far. I blame Stef at The Cupcake Project blog for all of her fantastic recipes and photos. Oh and the recipe for Double Vanilla Cupcakes by Simply Recipes which is where the sudden interest in cupcakes started. I had all of these leftover vanilla beans and wanted to make something with them. I settled on vanilla extract, vanilla sugar and the vanilla cupcakes. To say they were good is a massive understatement. They were damned good.

Yes, I'll post some recipes. because you, too, deserve to gain weight right along with me eat scrumptious cupcakes. Cupcakes from scratch rock!

Anyway, fair warning: I'll be bouncing around on subject matter and going back and forth in time to bring you up to speed on family, gardening, baking and other strange things I get involved in. (I've even been fiddling around with making my own personal care products....You know you want to know how to make underarm deodorant!)

Clearly, I have too many interests and not enough time.


Monday, May 02, 2011

Oh! Hello there! you doin'?

What?! Do I really think I can just waltz right back in here just as easily as that without an explanation? Do I? DO I?!

Um...I've been, you know...busy!

There have been plants
Prairie smoke in the front yard.

and Easter egg hunts;
 Logan searches high and low. Well...OK. Just low.

cleaning up the garden and growing tiny plants from seed;

Chamomile, calendula, TX sage, cardinal climber, parsley, and zinnias.

Tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, basil, thyme and an itsy bitsy heliotrope.

getting my house painted,

and buying a new car and selling off my old one.

Well, OK, that's a minivan, but kind of a cool one. Caitlin now has her very own row and the twins can no longer punch her in the face. Ahhh! The soothing sounds of a little less whining!

There have also been cupcakes,
 Coconut cupcake with coconut cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut flakes. Is it good? Ohhhhh yeahhhhh!

because anniversaries and birthdays are coming up and I need to test out some recipes!

I've also been thinking about all of the photos I haven't edited and all of the stories I haven't written. I'll get to them. It's been tough. Being busy with the short people and thinking about my dad; visiting with my mom and sisters; watching the weather and waiting for a chance to do some planting. I even gained a year and didn't mention it back in March. Heh!

You It just keeps on rolling.

I'm still here, though and that's a good thing!
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