I have been promising my study group, but had yet to make time. Our school has decided it would be a good idea to force poor little first year law students to take 6 classes at once; we wonder the halls looking pasty and zombiesque. So I told my little group I would make something to cheer them up; treats with names like limited liability lemon cake, unjustly enriched chocolate tarts or imminent apprehension apple pie. (The obvious result of sleep-deprived law/baker brain). This weeks creation could only be: Coconut Contract Cupcakes.
I wanted to use a sour-cream chocolate cake as the base, everyone loves chocolate and I personally believe that sour-cream cakes (or ones with yogurt) have the perfect balance of sweet and tart with a tender crumb and never dry. So I used the Devil's Food Cake recipe from my Blue Buttercream Retro Cake, a recipe from Baking Illustrated. My buttercream however is my own, it takes a certain talent for horrible cooking to make a recipe that comes out this good but the basic idea is this:
Rich Vanilla Cream Cheese Buttercream
The stability of a buttercream with the richness and tang of a cream cheese frosting. The perfect stickiness for piling on the coconut
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup icing (powdered sugar)
1/2 cup cream cheese
Over a bain-maire (a water bath of simmering water) combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt, whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 160 degrees. Then using a hand mixer beat on high the mixture for about a minute until it has cooled back to room temperature. Then, a little at a time, add in the butter, and then the cream cheese and icing sugar.
I used an icing bag and piped the icing in a swirl onto cupcakes after they had cooled, and then added as much coconut on top as they could hold.
There is nothing better than a Chocolate Coconut Cupcake to sooth the soul. It calls up images of birthdays in grade school and m&m topped glories, of parents at the kitchen stove baking up some comfort in bite-sized proportion. It provided the perfect balance of childhood memories with adult style taste in a way that no other food can. And most of all, it is just fun to make, fun to eat, and fun to give away. Who doesn't love a good cupcake!