I’ve been a little, oh I don’t know, swamped lately – as is totally obvious by the date of my last post (when was that again?…). Culinary school is nothing like Audrey Hepburn portrayed in Sabrina. It’s not all excitable French chef instructors and unbaked souffles. And I still don’t know the correct way to crack ze egg. It is, however, full of reading, homework assignments, recipe analysis, quizzes and potato chopping, which has kept me less in the kitchen and more at my desk, except for the potato part of course (that would be messy). So instead of letting my poor little blog lay dormant any longer, I’m reaching into the not so distant archives to talk about a friend of mine: the coconut.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of coconut. I was one of those kids who didn’t like anything growing up; though I also never tried any of the things I didn’t like… Coconut happened to be one of these things, though I did probably end up with some of it in my mouth from time to time, unbeknownst to me of course – the likely culprit being unmarked, heart shaped boxes of chocolate truffle candies.
I wasn’t alone in my non-coconutness though, it seems a lot of people have an aversion to coconut. I was turned the other way however when we were tasting cake for our wedding. We were at the Sweetpea Baking Co. here in Portland and one of the cupcakes Lisa brought out was Toasted Coconut. I immediately told myself I would not like that cupcake, but one bite of it had me hooked. Crunchy coconut flakes on top of creamy buttercream frosting on top of decadent coconutty cake? Freaking delicious!
We did end up getting coconut for one layer of our cake, but we got two other flavors for the other layers since, as I already said, a lot of people don’t like coconut. We sadly didn’t get to eat any of that layer though, so we indulged in a little toasted coconut when I made these cupcakes sometime last month. They’re really quite easy and your kitchen will smell fantastic when you toast the shredded coconut (provided you don’t burn it, of course).
Toasted Coconut Cupcakes (vegan)
Preheat the oven to 350. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- 1 & 1/4 C organic AP flour
- 2 T cornstarch
- 3/4 t baking powder
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/2 t salt
Sift the ingredients above into a small bowl and set aside.
- 1 C coconut milk, canned (I used light)
- 1/3 C canola oil (non-GMO preferably)
- 3/4 C organic sugar (agave can be used to, but use less as it’s sweeter)
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1 t coconut extract
Combine all the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly; you can use a hand blender or Kitchen Stand Mixer of course. Add the dry ingredients (feel free to sift again) and mix until there aren’t many lumps. Pour the batter to the lined muffin pan and bake for 20 – 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer the baked cupcakes to a cooling rack about 5 minutes after removing them from the oven.
- About 1/2 C shredded coconut
Take a small sauce pot and put it on the stove over medium-low heat. Add the coconut and stir. You don’t need to stir it relentlessly, but you do need to hover over it quite closely. Frequently stir and move the coconut around. When it starts to brown it will do so quickly so keep an eye on it and remove, if necessary, those pieces already toasted if the others are taking too long. When in doubt, a little under-toasted coconut is better than charred coconut. Set it aside on a plate and make the frosting.
- 1/2 C vegan stick margarine
- 1/2 C non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (or more margarine)
- 1 – 2 t coconut extract, depending on how coconutty you want it
- 1/4 C coconut milk
- 3 – 4 C powdered sugar (plus more if needed)
Cream the margarine and shortening together in a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, extract and some of the powdered sugar and start mixing. Add powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency; I think I typically use at least 4 cups.
Now you can get all fancy and whip out the ole pastry bag here, or just plop a big dollop of frosting on top of the cupcakes and smooth it out a bit with a spoon or icing knife. Then grab the plate of coconut and spread it out a bit so it’s not in one big glob. Take the cupcake on its side and roll it in the coconut. Voila!
Even if you aren’t typically a fan of coconut, these cupcakes are quite tasty. They can also be made gluten-free simply by using a GF flour blend (and some agave instead of all sugar). If you’d like to do that and don’t already have a good flour mixture please contact me and I’ll give you some pointers.