Favorite Things: Larson shares her favorite homemade cupcakesPerfectly portioned and handheld, cupcakes are dreamy little vehicles for ridiculous amounts of frosting. One of my from-scratch favorites is Bon Appetit’s Vanilla Bean Coconut Cupcakes.
By: Anna G. Larson, INFORUM
Perfectly portioned and handheld, cupcakes are dreamy little vehicles for ridiculous amounts of frosting. One of my from-scratch favorites is Bon Appetit’s Vanilla Bean Coconut Cupcakes.
The recipe plays up a distinct flavor and has a pretty presentation. Here’s one you can try on your own.
Bon Appetit’s Vanilla Bean Coconut Cupcakes with Frosting
Makes 18 cupcakes
2 13- to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)
Preparation of reduced coconut milk
Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to medium-low; boil until reduced to 1½ cups, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). Reduced coconut milk can be made two days ahead. Keep chilled.
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line eighteen Zc-cup muffin cups with paper liners.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes.
Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.
Beat in seeds from vanilla bean and remaining egg.
Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended.
Divide batter among muffin cups.
Bake cupcakes until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Transfer cupcakes in pans to rack; cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on rack.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, seeds from vanilla bean, and salt.
Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.
Using a pastry bag fitted with large star tip, pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes, or using a small offset spatula to swirl frosting over top of cupcakes. Sprinkle with coconut.
Vanilla: I use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla beans. I find that the beans dry out quickly if I don’t bake frequently.
Vanilla bean paste isn’t a paste at all. It’s more of a thick liquid that is pure vanilla extract heavily saturated with flecks of vanilla.
Use it as you would vanilla beans. It has a strong, smooth vanilla flavor. I buy mine online from Beanilla, www.beanilla.com, for $9.99 per ounce.
Frosting: I add 3 to 4 tablespoons of vegetable shortening to the frosting when I make it. I know it makes baking purists cringe, but it adds stability and ensures that the frosting doesn’t taste like a stick of butter. I also add a bit more powdered sugar than listed, depending on how I wish to frost the cupcakes (piped or smoothed on with a spatula).
Adding a drop or two of coconut extract really amps up the flavor of the frosting. Find pure coconut extract online, or opt for imitation extract that can be found at most grocery stores.
Cupcake baking tips from Anna
• Bring baking ingredients to room temperature to ensure even baking.
• Always break eggs in a separate bowl so a bad egg or bits of eggshell don’t get in the batter.
• Be sure you have all the necessary ingredients before you start baking.
• Inspect yourself, the baking area and the baking equipment for debris and foreign objects before you start.
• Always preheat your oven.
• Never, ever over mix cupcake or cake batter. Mixing too much develops the gluten in flour, resulting in tough, chewy cake. Lumps are OK.
• Be sure your baking powder or baking soda is fresh and active.
Test baking soda by adding a few tablespoons of white vinegar into a bowl, and add a teaspoon of baking soda. The mixture should bubble up. The more bubbles, the more potent the baking soda.
To test baking powder, put a few tablespoons of warm water into bowl, and add a teaspoon of baking powder. The mixture should make a fizzing noise, and the water will become cloudy with tiny bubbles. The more bubbles, the fresher the baking powder according to BakingBites.com.
• Sift powdered sugar before using it. It eliminates chunks, ensuring a smooth frosting.
E If a recipe calls for unsalted butter but you don’t have any, use salted butter but eliminate any salt in the recipe.
E Ovens cook at varying temperatures. Check your baked goods when they’re a few minutes away from the full baking time.
E Take your time and read directions fully.
Editor’s note: SheSays Favorites is a weekly feature in SheSays that runs each Monday. SheSays staffers will gather a few of their favorite things to share with readers. Do you have a favorite you’d like to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525