Thursday, April 9, 2015

Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Cream Cupcakes

Easter Sundays of my childhood meant new spring dresses to wear to church, with fingers crossed that the weather was actually warm enough for a lightweight dress.  The weather was not usually an issue growing up in South Carolina, though, where spring comes early, the warm, damp air is scented with sweet honeysuckle, and the pink and white dogwoods and azaleas are already in full lovely bloom.

In Colorado, there are no guarantees when it comes to spring weather, and as I type this, it's barely 40 degrees out, grey and overcast after a cold rain last night.  But tomorrow, the sun will come out again to pay a visit.  We do get plenty of sunshine in Colorado, even during the colder months.

I have no memories of dyeing eggs for Easter, or even hunting them in our backyard or around the house, but we always woke up to a basket of candy on each of our beds, jelly beans carefully sorted and counted by my mom, a milk chocolate bunny whose ears were always the first to get eaten when my dad got ahold of our baskets, a highly coveted Cadbury Creme egg, and maybe a few peanut butter, vanilla cream or strawberry cream filled eggs.

Besides the Cadbury eggs, my favorite Easter candy as an adult are the chocolate eggs filled with fluffy coconut cream, so I created a recipe for Easter cupcakes inspired by that candy.  Dark chocolate cupcakes, with the centers hollowed out, filled with homemade toasted coconut cream custard, topped with a swirl of salted dark chocolate buttercream, toasted coconut and mini candy eggs.  The cupcakes were a more elegant and satisfactory rendition of those chocolate coconut eggs.

I also experimented with dyeing eggs using only natural food dyes, and I think the results are so much prettier than with food coloring.  Some results were expected - pink eggs from beets, of course, and blue from blueberries.  But others were surprising - green from red onion skins and blue from red cabbage?  It's a mystery to me how it all works, but so interesting.

And now that Easter is over, this week I've been enjoying plenty of deviled eggs made with a recent discovery of mayonnaise made with healthy avocado oil, which is as yummy as it sounds.

Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Cream Cupcakes

Toasted Coconut Cream Custard.
  • 2 cups unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut, toasted
Chocolate Cupcakes.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened, special dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Salted Chocolate Buttercream.
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-3 tablespoons cream or milk
  • mini candy eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, toasted

Note, make the custard one day in advance and chill overnight.

In a saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks.  Over medium low heat, cook the custard while whisking constantly, until it comes to a boil, then cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until thickened.  Remove from the heat, and whisk in the butter, coconut extract and toasted coconut.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with 24 liners.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.  Add the eggs, milk, sour cream, oil and vanilla and whisk vigorously until well combined.

Divide batter between the liners and bake for 14-15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and meringue powder on low speed to combine.  Add the vanilla and cream, then whip on medium high for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Use a cupcake corer to remove the centers of each cupcake.  Fill a piping bag with buttercream and pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge of each cupcake.  Spoon or pipe the custard into the centers of each cupcake.  Garnish with the eggs and toasted coconut.

Yields 24 cupcakes

Baker's Note: If you have any leftover buttercream and custard, make a trifle along with the centers of the cupcakes you removed.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen