Friday, September 28, 2012

Coconut Cream Cupcakes

My husband loves coconut cream pie. In January, he asked me if I could make coconut cream cupcakes. "Sure," I said ... and I got to work looking for a recipe. I found an interesting one on Pinterest which linked me back to Jamie Cooks It Up! They tasted really good, but the cupcake itself shriveled up when I took it out of the oven. I was a little embarrassed with how small the cupcake ended up being.

Fast forward to last week ...

If you've read my blog before, then you know that my friend Leesa is always asking me to make cupcakes for her. Well ... she asked again last week. She was going to go visit her parents and wanted to take cupcakes. She asked for the coconut cream cupcakes.

The funny part of this story is that Leesa and I were standing in the teachers' lounge talking about cupcakes when another one of our coworkers walked in. She didn't know what kind of cupcakes we were talking about when she said, "You need to make more of those coconut cupcakes. They're my favorite." Kris was delighted when she found out that I was making them for Leesa.

Back to the real story ...

I really didn't want these cupcakes to shrivel up again so I spent several days trying to figure out what I did wrong. Did I not bake them long enough? Was there too much liquid in the recipe? Was it because the recipe called for both oil and sour cream? I really wasn't sure what I should try tweaking.

And then I had an epiphany ...

I have tweaked other people's recipes a bit ... usually just the frosting ... but I have never gone out on a limb to try putting together my own recipe. This week, however, I was ready to test that limb.

I was so thrilled when I took the cupcakes out of the oven and they didn't shrivel. Then I tasted one ... it was light and fluffy and delicious. I am so proud of myself.

Here's what I did ...

Coconut Cream Cupcake
1 box of White cake mix
1 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3.4 oz box instant coconut cream pudding
1 generous dash of salt
1 cup sour cream
1 cup water
3 whole eggs
1 tsp coconut extract

Combine everything and mix with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Put cupcake liners into muffin tins and fill 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 19 minutes. I was able to get 36 cupcakes.

Coconut Filling
1 3.4 oz box instant coconut cream pudding
2 cups half & half

Mix the pudding and the half & half with a whisk and put in the refrigerator to thicken.

Coconut Buttercream
1 cup butter flavored shortening
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp coconut extract
2 lb bag of powdered sugar
2-4 tbsp milk

Beat the butter and shortening together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the milk and coconut extract. Beat in powdered sugar in three installments. Beat until well combined. If it seems a bit too thick, add more milk.

Toasted Coconut Topping
3 cups shredded coconut

Spread the shredded coconut out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes.

Load a piping bag with the coconut filling and squirt some into the center of each cupcake. Pipe a bit of Coconut Buttercream on top of a few cupcakes at a time and then carefully roll it in the toasted coconut. I like my buttercream piled high on my cupcakes, so I tend to put a lot on top. You may need to cup your hand over the top of the cupcake to make sure the toasted coconut sticks to the buttercream.

Old Recipe
New Recipe

You can see from the pictures that the cupcake from the new recipe domed nicer and didn't shrivel or cave in the middle.

So Leesa took 15 Coconut Cream Cupcakes to her family, I took 1 to Kris (because they're her favorite), I gave one to another colleague because tomorrow is his 25th birthday, I gave 6 to my friend Ginger (she always wants 6 cupcakes when I bake ... I used to have a cupcake box with her name on it that I was instructed to fill every time I baked), and my sons took one to their respective girlfriends. 

For those of you doing the math, that only left 11 cupcakes for my family to eat. That's a good thing, because if there are cupcakes here then I'm going to eat them. If I eat them, I have to go out and run more often ... and although I do enjoy running, I'd rather not be bogged down with cupcakes ... even if they are as delicious as these Coconut Cream Cupcakes.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Peach Cobbler Cupcakes ... Take 2

To recap ... My friend, Leesa, asked me to make a Peach Cobbler cupcake. My two thoughts were to 1) bake the peaches inside the cupcake and 2) make a peach filling for the cupcakes. So I decided to try both thoughts. I already blogged about the the first kind. You can read about it here. So here's how I made the second Peach Cobbler Cupcake of the day ...

I decided to make a brown sugar cupcake, fill it with a peach filling, and then top it with vanilla buttercream sprinkled with streusel.

Peach Cobbler Cupcakes

Brown Sugar Cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake wells with cupcake liners. I am able to get about 18 cupcakes with this recipe.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl combine sugars and butter on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 1 addition, beating on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a golden crust forms on the edges of the cupcakes.

Peach Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 diced peaches or a can of drained diced peaches
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Stir in peaches and lemon juice. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Let cool completely.

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened

Mix all ingredients until crumbly. Bake in oven safe dish at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

When the cupcakes and peach filling are completely cooled, cut the core out of each cupcake and place next to it. Spoon the peach filling into each cupcake, cut the tops off the removed cores, and place the tops back on the cupcakes.
When the cupcakes are filled, place a swirl of you favorite go-to vanilla buttercream on top and sprinkle with the prepared streusel.

These were my husband's favorite. He loved the filling and the brown sugar cupcake. When Leesa taste tested them, she liked both this Peach Cobbler Cupcake and the first Peach Cobbler Cupcake. She felt that this second one was sweeter. They both tasted so different but were both very good. I sent several of both kinds home with Leesa so that her family could taste them. I was really hoping that one would come out as the winner and would be my go-to Peach Cobbler Cupcake. No such luck. Her family liked them both. I guess they both have their qualities.

So if you're looking for a sweeter tasting Peach Cobbler Cupcake, try this one. If you want one that would be delicious with a cup of coffee, try the other one.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Peach Cobbler Cupcakes ... Take 1

Back in June, my friend Leesa sent me a text. She and her daughter were watching Cupcake Wars and really wanted a cupcake. She wanted to know if I had any. I almost always have leftover cupcakes in the freezer, but on this particular evening, my freezer was cupcake free. We were leaving for vacation in a few days so I pretty much had no food in my house. Leesa and her daughter Athena understood, but then Leesa made a request. She and Athena thought that a peach cobbler cupcake sounded good and that I should try making some. Leesa was the friend who suggested that I make a Pecan Pie Cupcake, and that turned out wonderful ... so Peach Cobbler was my next adventure.

So July came and went, and finally in August I had a free Friday to fool around with cupcakes. I had two thoughts on how to make a Peach Cobbler cupcake. The first thought was to bake the peaches into the cupcake ... the second thought was to make a peach filling and fill the cupcakes after they had cooled. It was Friday and I had nothing better to do (well ... I actually did ... but I like to avoid responsibility by baking instead), so I tried both.

Up first ... baking the peaches inside. The peach filling will be a later post.

I searched all kinds of recipes on-line, and I finally found one that I could tweak a bit at Willow Bird Baking. Here's what I did ...

Peach Cobbler Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 stick butter
3/8 cup light brown sugar
3/8 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Splash of peach syrup from canned peaches (if using canned peaches)
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Fresh or canned peaches, chopped

Streusel Ingredients:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter (4 tablespoons)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line wells in cupcake pan with cupcake liners. In a small bowl make streusel. Add all the ingredients and cut the mixture into crumbles with two knives until it's about the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add the eggs one at a time and mix. Mix in the buttermilk, vanilla, and a little peach syrup.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add a little to the flour mixture at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat the batter for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour just enough batter into each of 12 cupcake wells to cover the bottom.
Spoon a thin layer of streusel over this batter, and drop several pieces of chopped peach on top (depending on the size of the pieces and your personal taste).
Spoon another layer of batter over each well until each is about 3/4 full. Spoon a sprinkle of streusel over the top of the batter in each well.

If there is extra batter left over, fill some more wells. I was able to fill 16 total.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan for a couple of minutes, and then on a cooling rack.

Once cupcakes are completely cool, frost them.

I decided to top my Peach Cobbler Cupcakes with vanilla buttercream because I was hoping it would taste like a scoop of ice cream on top. To give it a little more pop, I took the extra streusel and popped it in the oven for about 5 minutes and then sprinkled it on top.

I thought these cupcakes tasted kind of like a peach coffee cake. When I make these again, however, I think I will add more peaches to each cupcake. I added about 3 peach chunks to each one ... it needed more.

On a side note ... If you are going to use canned peaches (like I did), make sure that they are drained and dried. Before I started, I placed the peach chunks on a paper towel and blotted them dry. I then let them sit there and dry for quite a while.

When I was all done, I texted Leesa to see if she wanted to come taste them. She did. She agreed with me that they were very good but really did need more peaches in them.

Coming soon ... Peach Cobbler Cupcakes ... Take 2.