Alllll the coconut. Give it to me. Is it possible to fall more in love with coconut over time? Because did I mention… I want all the coconut things. I’m not really sure where this desire came from (as I’ve mentioned before, I grew up thinking I didn’t like it– pffff), but I’m so glad that at some point I decided that coconut is extraordinarily delicious. Our last recipe for Baked Sunday Mornings was German Chocolate Cake, so I got to dabble a couple of weeks ago as well, and I’d be very happy continuing that tropical streak. This week we’re making Coconut Snowball Cupcakes from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking, which is another of BAKED’s O.G. recipes that I’ve inexplicably never made before now. They look like unassuming coconut cupcakes at first glance, BUT what you can’t tell from the outside is that they’re filled with a wicked delicious coconut-infused pastry cream. All the elements of this cupcake –cake, filling, frosting, garnish– add a little punch of coconut, though I wanted even more of it!
These cupcakes are made just like BAKED’s other white cakes, in that the cake batter requires folding in beaten egg whites and the frosting is cooked. They were much faster to pull together than a layer cake, however, which was a welcome respite.
The pastry cream is very resilient– I mis-timed my cooking and couldn’t finish it before I had to leave to go somewhere, so I refrigerated the coconut-infused half-and-half and the egg yolk/flour/sugar mixtures separately, hoping I could rewarm them the next day and resume. I had no idea if this would work because pastry cream can be so delicate, but I was rather surprised that it absolutely did work, and it cooked in about 2 minutes, rather than 6. Custards are not generally my forte, so I was very pleased when this one came together just as it was supposed to. It’s quite thick, which was perfect to stand up to the cake.
The cake batter also came together beautifully, the last step being folding in shredded, sweetened coconut. In the oven went the cupcake pans (the wells a scant ¾ full) and they baked up perfectly with slight domes. I took them out at exactly 20 minutes, at which time they were cooked through but had taken on no brown coloring– just what I wanted for “snowballs”.
I cut cones out of the centers (cake scraps, anyone?) and filled them with my melon-baller-sized spring-loaded ice cream scoop, then glided a small offset spatula across the tops to smooth them out. The book says to just jam a cake tip into each whole cupcake, but I prefer cutting out a wedge of cake.
The frosting happened without a hitch (woohoo!), into which I whirled a bit of the coconut pastry cream. I’ve taken to cutting back ½ stick of the 3 sticks called for in the recipe, and I like the texture much better that way. This is the same quantity as we make for a full layer cake, so I knew there would be some left over; therefore I decided to tip the cake-to-frosting ratio a bit more than usual towards frosting, by piping a tall mound on top of each cupcake.
Lastly, we’re to decorate the tops by sprinkling on shredded, sweetened coconut, because ya know, snowballs. However… I wanted to give them a bit of color and texture contrast, so I decided to toast the coconut. I’m so glad I did this, because the coconut flavor in the cake and frosting is quite subtle, and the golden coconut strands definitely gave them a toasty punch of flavor. Next time I would add pure coconut extract to both the cake and frosting to amp up the coconut.
I absolutely loved these, and you can too! Check out the recipe for Coconut Snowball Cupcakes at Baked Sunday Mornings— the coconut lovers in your life will love you even more. 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2020.