Coconutty Easter Cupcakes
First, allow me to play a little theme song for the recent history of this blog
I’m playing Rocky for three reasons:
- Most importantly, my blog nearly died. The good people at GoDaddy sent me a few notifications that my credit card was no good (it was compromised by jerks so the number changed) and since GoDaddy spams me so much I didn’t notice. They took me down, and then informed me that restoration wasn’t just a click away. But they fixed it, so it’s back, and so, the comeback theme.
- Near catastrophe or no, I haven’t been very focused on the blog lately. My attention has been jumping around between a number of great things — working with the Superneuros, Kindergarten volunteering (I try to keep my paste intake to acceptable levels), room painting, and kid-book writing, to name a few. I end up sneaking in some cooking and it tends to be too boring to chronicle, because it needs to be speedy. But now I’m back! (comeback theme)
- I’ve always just liked the theme to Rocky. Listen to those horns at the start and tell me you’re able walk away feeling depressed. You just can’t. I realized this when I was little and my dad blared the instrumental version in our gold-brown Chrysler Cordoba, back before all cars were silver.
So it wasn’t this post in particular that brought me back. That one is on its way, hopefully with the help of something that’s currently en route in the mail via Thailand, as long as border security doesn’t have a problem with it, which it just might. How’s that for a teaser? So I’m writing with a non-freaky post so that you don’t get disturbed by the next one. This is like a peace offering to apologize in advance for the next one. It’s ultra tame. Next one — not so much. This one is for something you might actually make yourself. Next one — not so much.
Moving on. I went to Indigo a few weeks ago (bookstore, for you internationals) and the location was moving across the street, so they were selling off all books for 50% off. By the time I realized this was happening they had all been picked over, except that there was still a pretty good cookbook section. Winner winner! I bypassed the dregs (“cooking for vampires” or something comes to mind) and found two pretty good gems:
which has some tasty lemon and grapefruit deliciousness, and
which I am especially happy with. I love the great number of recipes in this one — I have a feeling I’ll reach for it whenever I have the urge to bake, to give me new ideas. Recipes are divided between morning, midday, afternoon, evening, and party, and include both savouries and sweets. I especially appreciate that even the sweet recipes aren’t over sugared. Check out this Violet Bakery Review of the whole thing if you want more info.
So when Easter came around (today!) and I needed to serve up something good for my husband’s family (last night!), guess which swanky new cookbook I reached for? I had to make sure I brought my A-game because my brother-in-law has gotten into fondant lately and always makes super-cute desserts. I’m a lot more improv than detail oriented, so rather than spending hours on little flowers or moulding bunnies (my artistic nature leaves something to be desired), I used Claire Ptak’s cupcake and coconut icing recipes as a foundation and made my little cakes look Easter-basket-ish.
Brown Velvet Cupcakes
Why is it that “brown velvet” sounds kind of disgusting but red velvet sounds so rich and beautiful? If I were doing an MBA (God no) I’d write a paper on the marketing effect of the term “red velvet.” I think this is one of those “a rose by any other name” things. I bet they sell well because they sound super sexy. But let’s all agree that they’re just chocolate cupcakes with red food colouring that turns your poo odd colours the next morning, also making every kid go wiggy and have neurological problems due to the red dye. So I left it out and didn’t present them as velvet anything. No one complained.
Recipe makes about 24 cupcakes
- 3C sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 eggs
- 1C vegetable oil
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2C cocoa powder
- 4C flour
- 3/4C plus 1Tbsp cornstarch
- 2C plain yogurt or buttermilk (I used 1C lime yogurt and 1C milk because it was what I had)
- 2tsp baking soda
- 2Tbsp white vinegar
- 24 Cupcake liners
- 72 chocolate eggies
Preheat to 300. Prepare your cupcake pans. In a large bowl, whisk sugar, salt, eggs, oil, and vanilla. In another bowl, sift cocoa powder (I am usually too lazy to sift but my cocoa was lumpy so this was good to do), flour, and cornstarch. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar (this will froth about, very exciting, maybe let kids do it) and add to yogurt/milk. Whisk half of the flour/cocoa into the egg mixture, then mix in half the yogurt mixture. Add remaining flour/cocoa, mix, and add remaining yogurt mix. Pour into muffin papers (3/4 full) and bake about 20 minutes (I had to bake longer because I took them out and they fell. Test centres with a knife so that it comes away clean). Let these cool completely before icing.
Grassy Coconut Milk Icing
Hey, do you Americans always call icing “frosting?” We’ve always called it icing. Canadians are so weird with language. We like some American words, some British, but we’re quite decisive in our preferences. “Bastardised?” Ew. “Draft beer?” I don’t even think I’d be pronouncing that properly if I read it aloud (but unlike the rose by any other name thing, I’m convinced beer tastes great no matter what you call it).
- 1/3C plus 2Tbsp full-fat coconut milk (recipe says “shaken well,” which wasn’t good enough for my can. I poured it into another bowl and whisked it)
- 1Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp white rum
- 3/4C plus 2Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 3 1/4 to 5 1/3C icing sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Green food colouring
- Unsweetened coconut
Measure the coconut milk and stir in the coconut and rum (I didn’t have rum and it worked fine, but Ptak says it brings out the coconut flavour).
In a mixer bowl, beat the butter with 1 3/4C icing sugar. Gradually add the coconut milk mixture, scraping sides and bottom as required. This will look lumpy and gross
Add another 1 3/4C icing sugar and cream together on low speed until smooth (at least 3 minutes). Add extra icing sugar for desired consistency. Add food colour. This will make your poo go odd colours too, but at least it will be for an aesthetic effect rather than splashy marketing.
Put some coconut in a ziplock bag, add a few drops of green colour, and shake it around until it mixes.
Ice your cupcakes. This doesn’t have to be piped prettily (me: not detail oriented enough to pipe well). I found that adding a lump with a spoon and then smoothing it with a knife worked very well. Sprinkle with coconut “grass” and add 3 chocolate eggies to each cupcake. Voila!
Happy Easter! (And get ready for a scary blockbuster post next time, assuming the border guys don’t shut down my package!)