Monday, June 25, 2012

Coffee, Coconut and Cupcakes...Oh My!

 
Last Wednesday was my son's final day of school for the summer.  Alas, my weekly vegan cupcake extravaganza has come to an end...for now, anyway.  Next year he is going to a small charter school, so I'm not sure who I'm going to test my new discoveries on.  Since it was my last treat, I wanted to go out with a bang. I think I accomplished that.  I even bought new cupcake papers for the occasion.  How cute are these prints?! Two hundred liners for about $5 at Michael's (I didn't have a coupon, I am ashamed to admit).  After much contemplation, I settled on the Toasted Coconut Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting from my trusty Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World cookbook.  They were awesome!  They are garnished with toasted coconut and chocolate covered coffee beans, and I think the pick-me-up was welcome after a week of dealing with rowdy, restless kids.  The cake was full of fluffy chocolate coconuttyness (I made up a new word!), which was complemented nicely by the light, airy coffee buttercream. Do not be intimidated by the need for ingredients like coconut oil and coffee extract. They are easy to find. I was afraid that I wouldn't find coffee extract (I'd never used it before), so I did a little research and found that a lot of people just use instant coffee instead and it turns out wonderfully.  Just make sure the crystals dissolve completely when mixing in. I always try to keep coconut milk and coconut oil in my pantry and they've come in handy more than once.  The unsweetened coconut flakes are from Whole Foods and the rest are just regular grocery store finds.  I whipped these up in no time...they were really easy and fun to make.  Enjoy!

Cake Ingredients:
  •  1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk 
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut


Directions:
  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with cupcake papers.  *Note:  I always preheat 25 degrees above the recommended temp (375 in this case), then immediately turn it down upon putting the cupcakes in.  I've found that this gives me great rounded cupcake tops*
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, cocoa powder, and baking powder.

  • Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. Once melted, turn the heat off but leave it in the pan on the stove so that it stays warm and does not solidify. *Note: Our coconut oil was in a glass jar and there was only a bit left, so we simply placed it a saucepan with a little water over low heat and it melted nicely (a thick plastic jar would work as well as you are using low heat).  Coconut oil should always be measured once it is melted...you don't want to try measuring it in its solid state*
  • In a separate medium bowl, mix together the coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, and coconut extract.  Stir in the melted coconut oil.
  • Add the flour mixture in batches, beating well after each addition. 
  •  Mix until smooth, then fold in the shredded coconut. Batter will be thick.
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 24-26 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. *Note: Mine were perfect after about 20 minutes, so if you use my round-top trick, be sure to check them early as it seems to shorten the baking time by a couple of minutes*

Coffee Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening (in the natural foods section of most grocery stores)
  • 1/4 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, softened (I use Earth Balance sticks)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 Tbsp coconut milk or soy milk (I used the same coconut milk from the cake part...there is no such thing as too much coconut flavor in my humble opinion)
  • 1 1/2 tsp coffee extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy.  Alternately add the sugar and coconut milk to the shortening mixture, beating well after each addition.  Add the coffee extract and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 min with a hand mixer on med-low or 5-7 minutes with a fork...I used my Kitchen Aid mixer on medium for about 5 minutes).  Refrigerate until ready to use.

  • For the garnish, toast 1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut.  To do this, preheat a small frying pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Pour the coconut into the pan and stir/toss constantly until honey brown colored and uniformly toasted; approximately 90 seconds.  Turn off heat and continue stirring/tossing for an additional 30 seconds more.  Transfer to a plate and spread out to cool.  I didn't really time it, but rather, went by the color.  The smell is divine!
  • Spread a generous amount of the Coffee Buttercream Frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.  Roll the edges of the frosted cupcake in the toasted coconut to create a ring around it (I didn't have enough shaved coconut, so I added in a little flaked...hence the differing textures).
  •  Add a couple of chocolate-covered coffee beans to the center for a decorative touch.  My husband selflessly offered to test them first to make sure they were good enough to serve.  Isn't he generous?

The finished product:

These were so decadent!  The combination of chocolate, lots of coconut and coffee is simply delish.  Plus, how fancy do they look?!  This page in the cookbook is definitely getting dog-eared because they are too good not to make again.  If you decide to try them, let me know how they turn out and if you discover any good variations or techniques.  Happy Baking!














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