Monday, 26 December 2011

Coconut Snowball Cupcakes

Yes, I know that coconut is not a traditional Christmas flavor. No, I don't really care. I happen to love coconut, but I also decided to make these specific cupcakes for my family's Christmas lunch because here in Montreal, we barely got any snow so far this year. And with shredded coconut on the icing, these cupcakes look like little snowballs! It was the least I could do to give my family the illusion of a white Christmas (of course, it started snowing the minute I got around to baking these, thus defeating my original purpose... but what can you do when Mother Nature steals your thunder?).

No one can say I am not trying to get into the Christmas spirit!

I sneaked the original recipe from Cupcake Rehab, but I substituted the buttermilk for 1 cup of good old milk, to which I added a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Since I have very few recipes in my arsenal that call for buttermilk, I never buy it because I know I'll end up loosing a ton (and I hate wasting food). This simple little substitution works just as well (just let the mixture sit for 10 minutes before using it in your recipe), and works with non-dairy milks, too. Thanks for the tip, "Vegan with a Vengeance"!

Coconut cupcakes:
¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 1 cup of shredded coconut. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner 2/3 of the way. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Coconut buttercream:
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup shortening
4-5 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 teaspoons coconut extract
4 to 6 tablespoons milk

Cream the butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk, coconut extract and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. If too stiff, add some milk and if too liquid, add confectioners sugar until desired texture is reached.

You'll get 20 to 24 cupcakes with this recipe. Decorating them is quite easy: leave what's left of your shredded coconut in it's bag, add a few drops of food coloring and shake the bag up until the coconut becomes lightly colored and spread it in a large plate. Frost the cupcakes, then gently dunk and roll them in the tinted coconut.

VoilĂ ! Cute little snowballs that you can eat! Coconut lovers everywhere will go mad for these at any time of the year! But you may want to warn them about these cupcakes' highly addictive taste...

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