|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
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
- "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!"
- "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."
- "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."
- "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."
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!
|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
|Next comes the gooey, creamy sticky part of the coconut filling. And that starts with a little|
|...a healthy amount of heavy cream...|
|...plenty of sugar to keep everything sweet...|
|...a half a stick of butter and a bit of salt to bring out all the flavors.|
|Everything is heated in a small pan for about 5 minutes|
|While the mixture comes to a simmer and the sugar dissolves, you will have time to make|
the thickener for the filling
|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
|Add the corn starch to a small bowl (I used a ramekin)...|
|...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
|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 you have whisked out most of the corn starch lumps, you're ready to strain the mixture|
|Make sure you strain the mixture into a heat-proof bowl - I used my Blue Cornflower|
Corning Ware saucemaker for this task
|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
|Remember that coconut ground in the food pro? Time to add it into the filling|
|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!
|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
|Next comes the cocoa. You will need 2 kinds of cocoa powder - natural unsweetened and dutch process|
|There's a visible difference between the two cocoa powders|
|Combine the cocoa powders in a heat-proof bowl - I used my sauce maker again|
|Line the tins with cupcake papers|
|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
|That all gets whipped together until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes|
|While the butter and sugar beats, you can prep your eggs...|
|...and flour and leveners...|
|The butter should now be ready and look something like this. Beat in vanilla extract.|
|Add your eggs, one at a time...|
|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 ;)
|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
|To scoop the cupcakes, I used an ice cream scoop.|
|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
|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)....
|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!
|Even after overfilling, you can see I still had leftover batter...|
|After baking, this is what happens when you overfill the cup tins as I did.|
|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
|Again. I cannot repeat this enough. DO NOT OVERFILL when baking cupcakes!|
|While the cupcakes cool, you can make the frosting. It starts with a block of cream cheese|
|Add to that a little sugar and flavors|
|Then beat with the whisk attachment until smooth|
|Next comes a pint of heavy cream - this will actually lighten the frosting considerably|
|With the mixer on high speed, I drizzled in the heavy cream....|
|...until I reached stiff peaks. Try not to over-beat or you'll arrive at something resembling|
whipped butter instead of frosting
|I used a melon baller to scoop out the insides of the cupcakes to make room for the coconut filling|
|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...
|The rest of the recipe is just assembly. I used a pastry bag to fill the cupcakes - no nozzle needed|
|The coconut filling is quite stiff but it helps to hold the delicate cupcakes together|
|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!
|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|