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Thursday, January 20, 2011

snowball cupcakes.

Behold! The cupcakes to mark off my baking journey with the two Baked cookbooks! I chose this recipe mainly because of its adorable name and the cutesy picture that comes with the recipe. Besides, I love coconut so I skipped over the famous sweet and salty cake (which I will make later) and got started on these.

Usually we think of cupcakes as an easier alternative to whole cakes, but snowball here, demanded equal  attention. Filled with a coconut pastry cream, frosted with coconut frosting before being showered with sweetened coconut flakes, I had to divide this recipe into 3 parts, making one per day.
Because I don't often make cupcakes, I never know how much frosting I should make. Some recipes skimp on them, some recipes pile them on. I think I could do with less frosting for this one. Or maybe I'm just not used to eating it in a mini mountain shape. Although, I do feel that the proportion of cake to frosting was skewed towards the frosting side.
Unfortunately, I found the frosting a tad sweet, and it being the most outstanding part of the cupcake, well, let's just say thank goodness I have a sweet tooth. It was rich and milky, but not very coconut-ty.

As for the cake, it didn't do as well as I had hoped. It was a little dry and crumbly albeit with good vanilla flavour. Plus, it was light and fluffy too! Oh, and the recipe didn't direct me to toast the coconut, but I did and it was a good move on my part. Toasting the coconut always brings out the flavour and adds colour.
Coconut Snowball Cupcakes
from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking 


For the cupcakes

2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup ice water
2 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut *Toast it!

For the coconut pastry cream
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the coconut frosting 
1 1/2 cups sugar *I would reduce this.
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut pastry cream
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) . Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.

2. Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl and set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the egg, and beat until just combined. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.

4. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Do not over-beat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Fold the shredded coconut into the batter.

5. Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and place them on the rack to cool completely.

Make the coconut pastry cream *I didn't bother to strain it.
1. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl.

2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, bring the half-and-half to a simmer. Add the unsweetened coconut, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes to let the coconut steep. Strain and discard the coconut.

3. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, flour, and salt until the mixture is pale, about 1 minute. Whisk half of the warm half-and-half into the egg yolk mixture, then pour that mixture into the remaining half-and-half in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through the sieve and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the coconut pastry cream for about 1 hour, or until chilled.

Make the coconut frosting
1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.

2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

3. Add the vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of the freshly made coconut pastry cream and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put it in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then mix again until it is the proper consistency.

Assembly the cupcakes
1. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip with the remaining coconut pastry cream. Puncture the center of a cupcake with the tip and squeeze approximately 1 teaspoon of coconut pastry cream into the cupcake. Repeat for all cupcakes.

2. Frost the top of each cupcake with the coconut frosting and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

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