Friday, March 11, 2016

Midweek Roundup: "Cupcakes that would win Cupcake Wars"

Photo by Aimee
Food Geekette

Except for a few curmudgeons, who doesn't love cupcakes?  They're more fun to eat than a slice of cake--forks are optional, and you get the same amount of frosting (just the right amount) with every bite.  Besides, you hardly ever see a cupcake with fondant on it.  

Maybe the hardest part of making these cupcakes was finding organic coconut oil.  Aimee looked in a lot of supermarkets and finally located an all-natural Australian coconut paste that worked well.  (She said she was relieved that she didn't have to drive to another county, which I read as "drive to another country," and I was silently relieved for Aimee not to have to drive to Australia."  Aimee also opted to make the buttercream, which is more difficult than the ganache, but worked out well even though she only used one egg white.  "And ... there are no more left.  We ate the last of them for dessert tonight.  I call that recipe success."

Faithy made the most unusual variation of these cupcakes.  Hers were a stunning green because she added pandan paste (not, she assured us, because she was celebrating St. Patrick's Day early).  Then she scooped out some of the cake and filled them with coconut custard cream.  She "really liked" this pairing:  "not too sweet and not too coconutty either."  Good to have you back after your root canal nightmare!

Vicki laced her cupcakes with a thoughtful essay on sugar.  Although she's a tea-and-cookie (two lumps, please) kind of gal, she's giving up sugar except for the weekly treat provided by Rose, trying to make dessert a rare treat, rather than an expected part of a meal.  We can be grateful that Rose's taste in sweets leans toward the less-sweet part of the sugar spectrum.  For her once a week treat this week, Vicki made the coconut silk meringue buttercream instead of the ganache, and said that "a cupcake never tasted so good."

Nancy recalled that when she made the Southern (Manhattan) Coconut Cake (the base recipe for these cuipcakes) from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, she had made them as cupcakes.  Therefore, she decided to downsize one more notch, and turn these cupcakes into mini-cupcakes.  She liked them as minis (plain or frosted) but thought that the flavor of the ganache became a little more dominant that way.  Not that chocolate dominance is a bad thing, but she would have preferred more balance with the coconut.

Luckily enough, Rachel had been "in the mood for an old-fashioned layer cake with coconut frosting," so she was feeling pretty good when she saw this week's cake.  Not only did she like the cupcakes, but she also learned a thing or two.  She found out that if you beat egg whites in a 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup, you don't "decorate the furniture with flying egg white."  Certainly a good thing to know.  Less happily, she learned that if you take a phone call from a friend while your coconut is toasting in the oven, you may end up with "blackened coconut."  If you have extra coconut, though, there's little harm done.

Kristina observed that these "yummy" cupcakes started out with some pretty ugly coconut milk, which looked "slightly grey and watery" even after being whisked to get rid of lumps of "chunky solidified coconut oil."  She got "rave reviews" when she took the cupcakes to her office, including one person who praised these cupcakes for their "coconut taste" without the "horrible coconut texture."

Surprisingly (to me anyway), Kim says she's not much of a cupcake maker.  Despite her prowess at making cookies, she doesn't much care for baking cakes in bite-size form (there's a bakery for that in her town).  When cupcakes came up on the rotation, she had to "stock up on supplies" and "set her mind to making them."  But she must have done something right, because when her sweet-averse friends came for dinner, they not only ate the cupcakes for dessert but asked if they could take some home with them.

"Who doesn't like cupcakes?", I asked in my introduction.  A friend of Jenn's, for one.  Why?  "They're individually sized, with frosting on top and stuff"--that her friend's explanation.  Well, she's Jenn's friend, so I'm sure she's a lovely person, but that makes no sense.  Her loss anyway, because she didn't get one of these beautiful cupcakes, which surprised Jenn with their goodness, seeing as how the ganache is milk chocolate, not her favorite.  And she still has three in the freezer!  (I put four of mine in the freezer too, intending to share them with Rose and Woody while they were here, but somehow I forgot).

Katya made her cupcakes for Nacho Friday, a "sacred institution," where they were "delicious and a huge hit."  As mini cupcakes, they really were barely more than a biteful, as a two-year-old girl noticed.  When her request for a second cupcake was turned down, she cried, "But I like two cupcakes...."  I suppose it's good in general that our toddler edges get sanded down by the time we reach adulthood, but there's something charming about the announcement, "I like two..." instead of the adult's, "I couldn't possibly...."

Rosa went all out--she made milk chocolate ganache AND the coconut meringue buttercream AND chocolate curls.  The shiny ganache went on first, followed by a puff of buttercream, with a chocolate curl in the middle of the buttercream.  A beautiful cupcake.  Rosa claims that the cupcakes don't look "perfect," but they look pretty close to perfect to my eyes.

I'm always learning new words from Catherine.  This week it was "fairy cakes," which are simply cupcakes but sound more gnomish.  As Catherine noted, as long as you "avert your eyes" from the silky meringue buttercream recipe, you're in "quick and easy" territory.  These "very delicious" fairy cakes look pretty and festive in Catherine's mix of colorful striped or polka-dotted cupcake liners.  Or are they fairy cake liners?  She took them to work, where they made a welcome addition to morning tea.

And yay!  Jen has managed to unpack enough boxes to bake some cupcakes.  "So easy to make that I couldn't find an excuse to skip them."  Rather than frost them with a spatula, she simply dipped the cupcakes in the ganache.  The pictures look gorgeous, but Jen noticed that the ganache was "slightly bubbly."  Oh well, "good thing I'm not a professional."  I think this is going to become my mantra.  Oh, and happy birthday to two-year-old Eliot!

Next week:  The Dutch Pecan Sandies.  I first read this as "Dutch Pecan Sandies," and thought we were going to get a recipe from the Netherlands.  Such recipes are usually hard to come by, unless you live at Hanaa the Baker's house.  But no.  They're simply a recipe from a New York recipe called "The Dutch," which may or may not have anything to do with Dutch cooking.  Regardless, I love pecan sandies, and am looking forward to baking these this weekend, even though the temperature is supposed to be in the 60's.  In Minnesota!  In March!


  1. Wow! Everyone was in on this recipe. Good reading. Nice job. Thanks.

  2. nice job on the cupcakes Aimee, and a very nice write up Marie , and I also think that every one did a great job too!!!

    P.S. Marie I'm not on facebook , can you please give me your email address
    Thank you.

  3. Aimee's cupcakes look amazing. Great photo!

  4. Rosa and anyone else who might need my email address: it's

  5. I made a birthday cake using this cake recipe where I usually would have done a plain white cake and two people asked if I 'sell cakes.' Coconut milk ftw.

  6. Well if you're driving to Australia for good quality coconut oil, I recommend you pick a location other than Darwin since it seems to be in short supply here. That icing looks luscious Aimee, great photo. Very amusing round up Marie, thanks.