Sunday, April 15, 2012

Coconut Chick Cupcakes (Cupcake of the Month Series #4)

Easter, springtime, baby chicks....  puts you in the mood to make some cupcakes, right?

Little, adorable cupcakes that look at you and say, "I'm too cute to eat!"  But you eat them just the same.

This is the April cupcake from my Martha Stewart Cupcakes calendar, and while they are a bit labor intensive, they turned out to be far to sweet for their own good.  I actually ended up only decorating six cupcakes as chicks, and the rest received a generous smear of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream that went with the lemon-kissed vanilla cupcakes on my recipe cards, along with a sprinkle of Wilton yellow sugar crystals.

Keep reading to see how I made them.

Start by combining one and a half cups of sugar, one tablespoon plus two teaspoons vanilla extract, one and a half sticks of softened butter, and the zest of two lemons in a mixing bowl.  Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and light.

Next add three eggs, one at a time and mixing well between each addition.

Combine three cups of all-purpose flour, a tablespoon of baking powder, and half a teaspoon of salt in a bowl and whisk together.

Add the flour mixture and one cup of buttermilk* to the egg/sugar/butter mixture, alternating three additions of flour with two additions of buttermilk, beating on low speed until all is incorporated and smooth.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two standard sized cupcake tins with twenty paper liners and spray each with butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray. I left the two middle cups empty in each of my trays.  Divide the batter evenly between the cups and bake for twenty minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.  If you're not lucky enough to have a double oven, you can bake both pans at the same time in the same oven, just rotate their position in the oven halfway through.

Remove the cupcakes from the pans and let them cool completely.  Then remove the paper liners.

While you wait for the cupcakes to cool, start making the Swiss meringue buttercream and toasted coconut.

Spread about 14 ounces of sweetened shredded coconut over a large rimmed cookie sheet and toast on 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring periodically so the coconut toasts evenly, until the flakes dry out and start to look lightly toasted.  Let cool.

Start by combining five large egg whites, one cup plus two tablespoons of sugar, and a pinch of salt in a heat proof mixing bowl. Set over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to the touch and feels smooth when you rub it between your fingers.

Unwrap four (yes, four) sticks of unsalted butter and cut them into tablespoons (about 8 pieces each).

Beat the egg white mixture with the wire whip attachment, starting on a low speed and increasing to medium-high, until stiff peaks form.  Continue mixing for about ten minutes until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and has completely cooled.  Touch the bottom of the bowl to test.

Turn the mixer down to medium-low and add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, letting it completely incorporate between additions.  Add the vanilla after all the butter has been added.  It's going to get thick and lumpy and look a little like churned butter.  Switch to the paddle attachment and beat on low until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.**

Now to decorate the cupcakes.

Start by smearing some buttercream on the top of a cupcake, then invert it onto a serving plate or a small cardboard round (I cut a large cake circle to make my little rounds).  Then frost the sides and top of the cupcake.

Holding the cupcake at a slight angle over the pan of toasted coconut, carefully press coconut over the sides and top of the cupcake, letting the excess fall back into the pan.

The directions on the recipe card say to use black licorice lace and candy coated licorice pastels to decorate the cupcakes, but I couldn't find those.  Instead, I used black and red Wilton tubed icing to make the eyes, comb, and feet. Use an almond for the beak.

These are best served the day they're decorated.

*If you don't have actual buttermilk, you can make it yourself by putting a tablespoon of lemon juice in the bottom of a liquid measuring cup, then filling up to the 1 cup line with regular milk.  Let it sit for about five minutes and you're in business.

**The buttercream can be refrigerated for up to three days in an airtight container (presumably also on the cupcakes as well) or frozen for a month.

No comments:

Post a Comment