Tuesday, November 25, 2008

At Last

I know I've been talking about coconut cupcakes for a long time. Other things just kept getting in the way. New recipes, slightly better pictures, 22-hour bus rides to Georgia... But I'm home now, and finally ready to share these with you.

They're from Ina Garten's cookbook, which I've raved about before. I was paging through, saw this recipe, and literally couldn't get it out of my head. It followed me everywhere, until one Sunday afternoon, I just had to make it.

My cupcakes weren't quite as beautiful as Ina's--no big surprise there--but the piles of frosting and the rough texture of the coconut sprinkled on top made them look a bit rustic rather than messy. And the flavor...the coconut inside the batter kept them moist and came through beautifully. It wasn't overpowering, and it added just the right touch of something unique. And, of course, there's cream cheese frosting. Coconut cream cheese frosting, no less. What more could a girl ask for?

Coconut Cupcakes
Adapted from Ina Garten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 7-ounce package flaked sweetened coconut, divided
Cream cheese icing

Line 16 muffin cups with paper baking cups, and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and set oven racks at top and lower middle levels.

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 1 minute after each. 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.

Fill each muffin cup almost full with batter. (These cupcakes will overflow, which gives them a nice big top to put frosting on.) Bake in a 325-degree oven for 11 to 14 minutes on the top and lower-middle racks of oven, then reverse the positions of the two cupcake pans (putting the one from the top on the lower middle rack and vice versa), and bake another 11 to 14 minutes or until the cupcake tops are golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely, and then top them with cream cheese icing and a sprinkle of coconut.

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