Bird’s Nest Coconut Cupcakes

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Good morning and a very Happy Easter!

Today a masterpiece of cuteness in the form of coconut cupcakes has graced this page.  I think they would even make Martha Stewart proud (If I do say so myself).

These cupcakes are fluffy, buttery, coconut-filled and moist, and then to top it off they have a Swiss meringue buttercream smoothed over the top.  Swiss meringue tastes slightly like a marshmallow, and so Swiss meringue + coconut = heaven.

Quick story: we had a Cupcake Wars competition on our family beach trip last year.  (Have you ever seen that show? It’s on Food Network and I’m a little obsessed with it.)  My cousins, sister, and I were grouped off into teams of 2 or 3, and then we had a legit competition with a time limit, theme, and mystery ingredients.  Guess who won? 🙂

To get to my point, I may have stolen this recipe from the opposing team because even though they didn’t win, their coconut cupcakes were amazing… We couldn’t stop eating the leftover ones.  I only changed up a few things in the cake batter, and instead of their regular buttercream I made the Swiss meringue.

Of course, the decorations are also different because well, Easter.  I did a rim of toasted coconut on the outside, and put Cadbury chocolate eggs in the center to look like a bird’s nest.  These would be perfect to decorate with little kids for an Easter activity!  I also made them in both mini and regular cupcake liners because it looks so cute when they’re assorted colors and sizes.

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Inside the batter, we have the usual suspects for dry and wet ingredients, along with some sweetened, shredded coconut and coconut milk.  You’ll add a tablespoon of vinegar to the coconut milk and let it sit for a few minutes before adding it to the batter, which is almost like making DIY coconut buttermilk.  Strange? Maybe.  But it works and it has two purposes: to add coconut flavor and add rise to the cupcakes.  (If you remember from those childhood experiments where you add vinegar to baking soda and it causes a reaction, this is the same thing here.  It’s just a part of the chemical leavening process for the cake.)  Ew, did I just say the word chemical in a post about cupcakes? Sorry, baking nerd here.

Once the cupcakes are in the oven you can make the buttercream.  It actually gets made over a double boiler in the first step, and just make sure to keep whisking it the entire time.  Don’t let it sit without whisking or you will end up with scrambled egg whites and sugar. :/ It happened to me and no, I don’t want to talk about it.

So that’s about it.  It’s not a hard recipe at all but it is rather time-consuming compared to others, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me when it comes to decorating!

Have a great Easter Sunday everyone!

“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

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Bird’s Nest Coconut Cupcakes

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Makes around 30 cupcakes

Prep Time 65 minutes

Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3 large egg whites

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Eggs for decorating

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place 7 ounces of coconut on a single layer on a tray lined with parchment paper.  Place in oven for about 5 minutes, and then take out and stir.  Put back in oven until toasted, (some pieces will be more browned than others which is fine) which will probably take another two minutes.  Let cool on the tray.  Change the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl, cream the room temperature butter and sugar on high speed for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy.  Add room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing until combined each time and scraping down the sides.  Beat in the vanilla.

3. Place vinegar in the cup of coconut milk, stir around, and let sit at least five minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients in three stages, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in 7 ounces coconut.

5. Line muffin pan with paper liners.  Fill each liner ¾ full with batter, and bake for 22-29 minutes until the tops are golden brown, a toothpick inserted comes out clean, and the tops spring back when gently touched.  Let sit on the counter for 10 minutes before removing to place on wire racks and cool completely.

6. Meanwhile, make the frosting.  On a double boiler that is slightly simmering over medium-low heat, add and continually whisk the sugar and egg whites until the mixture is no longer grainy but smooth.  Remove from heat, while still whisking, and then beat with a mixer on high speed for 5 minutes until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.  Once the bottom of the bowl has cooled completely, add a few chunks of butter at a time and beat to combine until all butter is incorporated.  Mix on medium-high speed for at least 5 minutes—it may separate, but if it does continue to beat on until it smooths out.

7. Use a knife to frost a layer of icing on each cupcake, and then top with toasted coconut around the rim and candy eggs.

Baker’s Notes:

a. Cupcakes last for up to four days when stored at room temperature in an airtight container. The frosting can be made a day in advance by keeping it in the refrigerator and then allowing it to come to room temperature and beating it on medium-high speed for five minutes before frosting cupcakes.

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

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Happy spring, people! Well, technically spring doesn’t start until March 20, but who cares? It feels like spring to me!  I went on a nice evening run today as the sun was setting, and I saw loads of pear tree blossoms, cherry tree blossoms, daffodils—even plenty of the so-called “weeds” growing on our lawn.  Do any of you just love those tiny flowers that start growing around this time but are actually considered weeds? Because I do! Ah, technicalities again.

And now it’s St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow! It’s really crept up quickly this year. (Um, wasn’t it just Valentine’s Day?) Anyways, I had time after school today to work on a recipe just for this everything-green occasion. And let me tell you, it is very much so, at the point of almost being over-the-top, in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day! Cupcakes with swirls of green frosting, green and white sprinkles, and a surprise rainbow inside (channel the leprechauns’ path to gold pots)—could it get any more festive and cute?

It’s quite simple, really: creamy vanilla frosting tinted green, vanilla cupcake batter tinted five different shades and layered before baking.  These cupcakes turn out so moist due to all the buttermilk and melted butter!  Trust me, they are so worth the time to make when comparing them to store-bought or boxed-mix cupcakes.  These cupcakes are anything from bland or dry, and the flavors aren’t masked by an excess of sugar either.

So this is the run-down of the recipe: Make the batter.  Along with the dry ingredients, you’ll use melted butter, buttermilk, an egg yolk, three egg whites, and plenty of vanilla.  Hold up! You may be thinking, Why egg whites? Well, the egg whites are really just an extra step in the process to making these supremely fluffy cakes.  You whip them up at the end, and then fold them gently into the batter.  Extra air, extra fluff. That’s all!

Next you will divide the batter into bowls, color them, and further divvy into cupcake liners—more details on that when you read the recipe.

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While they’re baking, you’ll make the frosting: starting with cold butter, which will allow for the heavy cream to whip up when you add it later on.  The only other ingredients in the frosting are a little bit of salt to balance the sweet, some vanilla, and powdered sugar.  You can tint it your desired shade of green and then prepare the piping bag.

When you’re piping, be sure to pile that frosting on there.  No one likes cupcakes that have been skimped out on frosting! It may be messier to eat, but that’s okay—hey, if you wear your green frosting on your face nobody can pinch you! 😉

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St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

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Makes 12 cupcakes

Prep Time 55 minutes

Total Time 70 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes

1 ¼ cups cake flour

1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk and 3 egg whites, separated and at room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup melted unsalted butter

½ cup buttermilk at room temperature

Assorted food coloring

For the Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, cold

3 cups powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream, cold

Green food coloring

Sprinkles for decorating

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 12 paper cupcake liners in cupcake tray.
  2. Make the batter: Melt the butter in the microwave, set aside to let cool. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix the egg yolk, granulated sugar, and vanilla on low speed for about thirty seconds, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the (now around room temperature) melted butter and mix until combined.  Being careful not to overmix, add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined, scraping down sides as necessary.  Add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix until combined, and so forth with the rest of the flour mixture and then the rest of the buttermilk.  In a separate medium bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed for about three minutes until fluffy.  Fold whites gently into the rest of the batter with a spatula until combined.
  3. Divide the batter into five separate small bowls, with about 2/3 cup batter in each bowl. Color each bowl with food coloring as desired, adding more drops to increase the intensity of color.  However, you don’t want to overmix the batter, so minimize stirring as much as possible.  (I did one bowl colored red, one yellow, one green, one blue, and one purple.)  Starting with the coolest color (for me it was purple), divide the bowl’s contents into the 12 cupcake liners.  You will use around 2 teaspoons of the given color in each liner.  Continue to add the other bowls of batter on top of the initial layer in the backwards rainbow order, until all the batter is used up.  (The second layer for mine was blue, then green, and so on.)
  4. Bake the cupcakes for 13-16 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top springs back when touched. Let cupcakes cool in pan for several minutes and then remove to cool completely on wire racks.
  5. Make the frosting: Cut the butter into cubes and place in a large bowl. Beat the butter on high speed with a hand-held mixer or paddle attachment for 5-7 minutes until pale and fluffy.  Add 1 ½ cups of the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until combined.  Add the salt and vanilla and mix until combined.  Next, add the remaining 1 ½ cups powdered sugar to the frosting and beat for 3-4 minutes on high, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the whipping cream and mix for another 4-5 minutes to beat air into the frosting, and then beat in the green food coloring to desired shade.
  6. Frost the cupcakes: Place frosting in piping bag with desired tip. (I used a star-shaped one to acquire the ridges in the swirls.)  Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes by starting from the inside, and then swirling out and up to form a slight peak.  Top with sprinkles.

 

Baker’s Notes:

a. Frosted cupcakes, if to be served in the next 24 hours, can be left at room temperature in an airtight container. Otherwise, frosted cupcakes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, and should be taken out of the refrigerator an hour before serving to bring back to room temperature.

b. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for up to three days in an airtight container. Frosting can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.  Bring it back to room temperature and beat it for 5 minutes again before piping onto cupcakes.

c. If serving at an outdoors event, make sure to keep cupcakes out of direct sunlight and heat as the frosting will melt.