Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday Tutor: Featuring Flourtrader

Cupcake Ready for Snack
Midnight Tropic Cupcakes


Every Tuesday I choose a different friend to be my tutor for a day: I select one of their original recipes, I make the recipe following my friend's instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I scarf down as much as my belt-line will permit - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe. Read more about the details for Tuesday Tutor

Today's Tuesday Tutor: Flourtrader
Selected Recipe: Midnight Tropic Cupcakes
My tutor today is Tina from Flourtrader, a blog specializing in baked treats with everything from creative cookies to decadent cakes. Tina is always introducing me to new creative bakes, often using techniques or ingredients I've never tried (or sometimes even heard of). I always know she will have something tempting to share each week.

Tina doesn't mince words when it comes to food - if she loves something, she's quick to praise. And if she doesn't love something she's baked, she's also quick to share the reasons and offer potential solutions for fixing the problem. Because let's face it - sometimes we try recipes, they don't work, but with a few modifications, it could be a terrific recipe. So please drop by Flourtrader and discover what Tina's baking this week.

About the Author: Fun Facts
  1. "When I started my blog, it was private and I did not have a camera. 10 months later I went public and then realized I needed to have my pictures up for my old posts. I spent a lot of time going back and re-making everything in very small portions. Now I know exactly how many tablespoons are in an egg! This was a tedious task and I would not want to do it again!"
     
  2. "One of the first things I noticed when I really got into the blogger community was how much untapped talent there was out there. So much some I started emailing sites like Racheal Ray and Martha Stewart encouraging them to look into a particular site and see a bloggers creation. The emails may not have had any impact but at least the thought was there. I am still amazed to this day at some of the creations I have seen."
     
  3. "I truly think that blogging is a give and take situation. Truthfully, if I was strictly concentrating on my blog and none of the other blogs, I would not have nearly the knowledge that I have now."
     
  4. "I grew up in a family in which the table was the main gathering place. I mean, we had to be there and on time. I can remember my mom saying, "turn off that TV and you are not bringing that book to the table!" Also, dad was always served up first. I think these traditions are a good thing, especially in the teen years when everyone was running around doing their own thing. No matter the activities, you could always find us at the dinner table at the same time."
Author's Photo

I chose this recipe because cupcakes have to be one of the most challenging baked treats to get right. Sure, anyone can bake a cupcake, but discovering the perfect balance between delicacy and structure, decadence and cloying, oooooooooooooOOOOOHHH and eeeeehh - that's a combination I have yet to discover. So for this Tuesday Tutor, I wanted to really challenge myself and attempt to make cupcakes. Oh yes - and did I mention I love coconut and chocolate?

To be fair, I hit a few snags along the cupcake trail. And like most baking faux pas, my problems can be traced back to my own imprecision and failure to follow the instructions precisely. For example, you will notice the cupcakes overflowed and spread rather dramatically - this is because I overfilled the cupcake tins with leftover batter. However, despite some busted cupcakes, the final flavor is all that matters, right? And the flavor rocked!

Original recipe courtesy of Flourtrader

Sweetened Shredded Coconut
There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but most steps are simple and straightforward.
You will start by making the coconut filling for the cupcakes. And that starts by grinding the
sweetened shredded coconut from the package into smaller bits using a food processor or blender

Grind Coconut in Food Pro
I pulsed my coconut pretty fine, but you can adjust to suit your desire. I also pulsed 1 cup
at a time because I was using a standard food pro. If you're using a small food pro or blender,
you will work to work with 1/4 - 1/2 cup instead

Buttermilk
Next comes the gooey, creamy sticky part of the coconut filling. And that starts with a little
buttermilk...

Heavy Whipping Cream
...a healthy amount of heavy cream...

Add Granulated Sugar
...plenty of sugar to keep everything sweet...

Kosher Salt
...a half a stick of butter and a bit of salt to bring out all the flavors.

Bring Mixture to Simmer to Combine
Everything is heated in a small pan for about 5 minutes

Heat Until Smooth
While the mixture comes to a simmer and the sugar dissolves, you will have time to make
the thickener for the filling

Imitation Coconut Extract, Corn Starch and Vanilla Extract
You will need corn starch, vanilla and coconut extract. I looked everywhere locally and could
not find pure coconut extract anywhere, so I finally grudgingly picked up this imitation stuff

Corn Starch
Add the corn starch to a small bowl (I used a ramekin)...

Milk Added to Corn Starch Mixture
...then whisk in the extracts and just enough milk to create a smooth mixture. Add the extracts
and milk slowly so that the corn starch has a chance to soak up the liquid and thus avoid
leaving bits of corn starch that remain lumpy

Once Simmering, Whisk Until Sugar Dissolved
Whisk the corn starch thickener into the simmering filling. You will need to whisk vigorously
as the corn starch will immediately start to clump.

Once Smooth, Remove from Heat
Once you have whisked out most of the corn starch lumps, you're ready to strain the mixture

Strain Thru Sieve
Make sure you strain the mixture into a heat-proof bowl - I used my Blue Cornflower
Corning Ware saucemaker for this task

Work Bits of Corn Starch Thru Sieve
You will be left with bits of gummy corn starch in the sieve. Work as much of this gumminess
through the sieve as you can, then whisk the filling until smooth

Add Coconut to Syup
Remember that coconut ground in the food pro? Time to add it into the filling

Whisk Together Filling and Coconut
You will now arrive at a delicious coconut place. Wherein, you may be tempted to eat this
amazing filling by the spoonful. Resist, resist, resist!

Cover with Plastic Wrap to Stop Skin from Forming
Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then cover the mixture with plastic wrap to stop a skin from
forming and chill the mixture for at least a few hours. Tina recommends chilling overnight and
that's what I did. The mixture gets quite stiff and difficult to pipe into the cupcakes, so I suspect
you could chill this for about 2 hours and be good to go...

Bring Eggs and Butter to Room Temp
Once the filling is chilled, you're ready to make the cupcakes. Remember to pull out your butter
and eggs in advance so they can warm to room temperature. I warm mine in front of my fridge
because it's the warmest spot in my kitchen

Boil Water in Microwave
While the eggs and butter warm to room temp, you'll have a chance to make the chocolate
sauce that will flavor your cupcakes. It starts out boiling hot and will need to cool to tepid, so
it's good to get this started as soon as you pull out the butter and eggs. Start by boiling the water.
I used my microwave and it tool about 2 1/2 minutes

Natural Cocoa Powder
Next comes the cocoa. You will need 2 kinds of cocoa powder - natural unsweetened and dutch process

Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
There's a visible difference between the two cocoa powders

Combine Cocoa Powders
Combine the cocoa powders in a heat-proof bowl - I used my sauce maker again

Whisk in Boiling Water
Whisk in the boiling water and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and all lumps have
been dissolved. If you're using a thermal shock resistant bowl like Pyroceram Corning Ware,
you can place the bowl directly into the refrigerator to cool more rapidly

Prepare Muffin Tins
While the chocolate mixture cools, you will have plenty of time to prepare your cupcake pans
I have one excellent non-stick pan and another not-so-good pan. I didn't need to grease the
non-stick pan, but I did grease the top of the second pan with shortening (non-hydrogenated)

Line Pans with Cupcake Wrappers
Line the tins with cupcake papers

Flour and Butter in Stand Mixer Bowl
Once the chocolate is cool to tepid, you can begin making the cupcakes. Like most cupcakes, the
batter starts with a healthy amount of butter and sugar

Beat Until Fluffy
That all gets whipped together until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes

3 Large Eggs
While the butter and sugar beats, you can prep your eggs...

Sift Together Flour and Baking Soda
...and flour and leveners...

Flour Prepared

Fluffy Sugar and Butter
The butter should now be ready and look something like this. Beat in vanilla extract.

Add Eggs to Batter One at a Time
Add your eggs, one at a time...

Add 1/3 of Flour Mixture
You will alternate between flour and chocolate, starting and ending with the flour. You will
add the flour in 3 parts and the chocolate in 2 parts. This is a classic technique for ensuring
the flour remains sufficiently moistened without over-beating the batter

Add 1/2 of Chocolate Mixture

Add More Flour and Chocolate
Be sure to keep the mixer on the lowest speed while adding flour and chocolate or you will
toughen the batter and end up wearing some of the flour and chocolate ;)

Mix Until Smooth
Also make sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is well
mixed. It's amazing how poorly a stand mixer manages to combine everything if you don't
take the time to scrape down the bottom and sides

Batter Reader to be Scooped
To scoop the cupcakes, I used an ice cream scoop.

Fill Cupcake Tins
See that? Per Tina's instructions, you don't want to fill the cupcakes any higher than 3/4 of the
way full, so when be careful or you'll wind up with a mess when you bake

Fill Cupcake Tin 3/4 Full
I did pretty good...but then I saw there was still 1/3 of the batter left in the bowl even after
filling both tins (24 cupcakes)....

Cupcakes Ready for Baking
So I went back and added more batter to each cupcake. DO NOT DO THIS! Stop at 3/4 of the
way full and if you have a lot of leftover batter as I did, then pour the remainder into a small
cake pan or into reserve cupcake pans to bake. Do NOT OVERFILL!

There Will Be Leftover Batter
Even after overfilling, you can see I still had leftover batter...

Baked Cupcakes
After baking, this is what happens when you overfill the cup tins as I did. 

Cooking Cupcakes
When I turned out the cupcakes, those in my good non-stick tin came out beautifully. Those
in my not-so-good greased pan - well, you can see they're kind of busted and many lost their
tops in the process despite attempting to loosen the edges

Cupcakes Pan After Turning Out
Again. I cannot repeat this enough. DO NOT OVERFILL when baking cupcakes!

Cream Cheese Block
While the cupcakes cool, you can make the frosting. It starts with a block of cream cheese

Extracts Added to Sugar
Add to that a little sugar and flavors

Whip Cream Cheese and Sugar
Then beat with the whisk attachment until smooth

Heavy Cream for Frosting
Next comes a pint of heavy cream - this will actually lighten the frosting considerably

Slowly Add Heavy Cream to Frosting
With the mixer on high speed, I drizzled in the heavy cream....

Whip Until Stiff Peaks Form
...until I reached stiff peaks. Try not to over-beat or you'll arrive at something resembling
whipped butter instead of frosting

Scoop Out Centers using Melon Baller
I used a melon baller to scoop out the insides of the cupcakes to make room for the coconut filling

Spread Leftover Bits on Cake and Freeze
I saved the extra bits of broken tops and scooped out centers to freeze and use later as
topping for ice cream. One could always make cake pops too, I suppose...

Piping Filling into Cupcakes
The rest of the recipe is just assembly. I used a pastry bag to fill the cupcakes - no nozzle needed

Cupcakes Filled with Coconut
The coconut filling is quite stiff but it helps to hold the delicate cupcakes together

Frosting Ready for Cupcakes
Now you're ready to frost. I left this up to my bf because my frosting skills are terrible. And
since I'm a perfectionist, it takes me FOREVER!

Cupcakes Frosted
Cupcakes anyone?

Bite of Cupcake
I highly recommend inviting a whole passel of friends over to help you eat these scrumptious
treats to keep you from packing them all under your waistband. And although you could store
these for a day or two, the frosting and filling requires refrigeration and so you won't want to
have them hang around long...

Cupcake Finished
Two bites later, I was ready for round two ;)


Thoughts while scarfing...
  • The cupcakes are incredibly delicate in texture - the cake crumb simple melts into your mouth. The coconut filling provides a nice contrasting texture and even helps to hold the cupcakes together. Thanks to the whipped heavy cream, the frosting is beautifully airy yet bold enough in flavor to stand up to the cake and filling
     
  • If you're not a coconut lover, this is not the cupcake for you. Chocolate lovers (like my bf) may be disappointed that the chocolate isn't more pronounced in these cupcakes, but I suspect more chocolaty goodness would have confused a tongue enjoying the tropical theme and flavors
     
  • Did you notice that reddish hue to the cupcake crumbs? That's what happens when you combine cocoa with baking soda - a natural red-velvet, no food dyes needed
     
  • When making coconut filling for these cupcakes, resist the urge to gobble down every last bit - this filling was my absolute favorite part of these cupcakes and it's a testament to the flavor and texture. My bf doesn't care for the texture of coconut flakes, but I heartily enjoyed
     
  • Tips for Success: 1) Follow instructions precisely, 2) Grease your cupcake pan edges thoroughly, 3) Use a piping bag to fill the cupcakes

Other Must-Try Recipes from Flourtrader
Maybe coconut isn't your thing. But I guarantee you'll find something delicious from Flourtrader. Check out these mouth-watering eats and tell me you're not inspired!

Sinbad's Basra Treats
Brown Mercedes Muffins
Sunshine Grove Cookies
Big Brahman Rolls
Amaretto Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake




28 comments:

  1. Those look simply perfect! I bet they were delicious!! ;D

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    1. Thank you, Mai - I really enjoyed them because I love coconut :)

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  2. Those cupcakes look wonderful, I'm not a huge fan of coconut, but my dad has asked me to make a chocolate coconut cake for some time so I will have to give these a try. All of flourtrader's recipes look wonderful. Great job!

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    Replies
    1. If your dad loves coconut, then I think he will enjoy these cupcakes. The coconut is really the predominant flavor. And just DO NOT OVERFILL your muffin tins and you should be fine ;) So glad you're going to try them and be sure to let Tina know what you think...

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  3. I love coconut and these cupcakes look gorgeous!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you - all the credit goes for the recipe goes to Tina and her creativity!

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  4. This was fun-glad you enjoyed trying out these cupcakes and I really appreciate this. Food bloggers rarely have time to make recipes from food blogger friend because they are busy with their own. Glad you have this program set up to help promote fellow bloggers and again I am honored that you chose me for this go round. Your cupcakes do look great...makes me want to make these again.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Tina, it was a lot of fun and the best part of the Tuesday Tutor series for me is discovering and learning - because it really DOES get boring just working on my own recipes or focusing on my own future posts...

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  5. Not sure if my first comment took since I was not signed in. This was a lot of fun having you make these and then post about it. I really do appreciate this. There are so many in the food blogger community that are busy making their own stuff, so it is rare to have someone make one of my recipes. This is a great program and I feel honored that you chose one of my recipes to showcase-there are so many great bloggers out there. I am glad you enjoyed the cupcakes..this makes me want to make them again!

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  6. Love absolutely look amazing and love yours pics Javelin!:)

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    1. Thank you Gloria, I'm so glad you enjoyed!

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  7. Ooh I love Tina! So glad that you featured her! And the cupcakes look awesome as well-I've had over-filling tin problems myself in the past, so I relate to much of this lol.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has had this problem ;) I'm in good company, then :)

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  8. So fun to see Tina here. I could be the only one who never made cupcake in food blog world...seriously! I did not know that I'm not supposed to overfill the cupcake too. I do not have any common sense in terms of baking, which gives me fear of baking...arhhh... The cupcake turned out pretty nice at the end! Looks yummy!

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    1. This was my first attempt at cupcakes as well, but I'm just happy they turned out edible! I'm sure when I attempt the recipe again, I won't have any problems. And really, baking is just about tweaking and practice - I rarely find that baked goods turn out perfect the first time I attempt them...

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  9. Loving the coconut in these cupcakes! And I love coconut and chocolate too!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed and the credit for this creation goes to Tina!

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  10. Wow what a beautiful pictorial and delicious cupcakes

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  11. This is a melt in your mouth cake. Absolutely love it, coconut and chocolate go hand in hand together. Bravo!

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    1. Thank you so much, Alida - the cupcakes were so delicate and delicious...

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  12. My hubby will really love these awesome coconut & chocolate cupcakes! Love the idea of coconut filling & they look great! AWESOME! :)

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    Replies
    1. Definitely give these a try and let Tina know if you enjoy them - I'm sure she'll be pleased...

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  13. I am back to say that this has inspired me to remake a fellow bloggers creation at least once a month. I liked having someone else make my recipe, so turn about is fair play! Thanks again.

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    1. YAY!! That's fantastic news, Tina - I'm so glad you've been inspired to feature other bloggers and it really is a lot of fun...

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  14. The coconut filling looks great, would you say it's the consistency of pastry cream? Could you fill a pie shell with the filling or is it too rich? I'm with your bf on liking a pronounced chocolate flavor, but I really like coconut, too, so will give these a try. And, ugh, overfilled cupcakes. Been there, it's the absolute worst.

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  15. I loved reading the fun facts about, Tina! And these cupcakes look marvelous...you recreated them perfectly :)

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  16. I love Tina's blog..fun learning more about her!

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