Friday, June 26, 2009
(Coco)nutty for coconut.
Graduation season has just passed and the kids are all on summer vacation. I'm long out of that period of my life where I would be looking forward to graduating from an educational institution, but this time of the year does make me look back with some nostalgia. There was always so much excitement and anticipation, a world to discover, and I was in some ways eager to grow up, which would be marked by graduating from elementary school, junior high, and so on. Now I kind of wish I savored those days more.
About two weeks ago I went to my cousin's graduation party. He was graduating from junior high, and when I saw him, he was cool with hair like Adam Lambert and designer frames. When I was his age, I was geeky with braces, teased bangs and large round glasses that were more functional than stylish. Sometimes thinking about it makes me cringe, all the awkwardness of growing up and "finding yourself". (Although...I think I still haven't outgrown my awkwardness.) But despite that youthful blundering, the earnestness and hope seem to dissipate with age, often replaced by cynicism, and I wish I could recapture some of that innocence.
So what does coconut have to do with graduating and growing up? Not a whole lot except that one of the guests brought the most amazing coconut layer cake I had ever tasted. She said she got the recipe from Martha Stewart's (there she is again!) website--the Ultimate Coconut Cake, and it really did live up to its name. She (the guest, not Martha) told me she spent two days making it, which was a bit discouraging.
However, craving something coconutty, I settled with making coconut cupcakes, also from Martha Stewart. But I made the cardinal mistake that every baker should know not to make, and that was: I didn't read the recipe beforehand. This resulted in an extra half stick of butter mixed into the batter, which made it taste like a pound cake--not too bad, certainly denser. I made one or two other (intentional) variations, like adding almond extract instead of vanilla to complement the coconut, and it did well to satisfy my craving to have another piece of the cake. Definitely not the same, but close enough.
Adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe
Makes about a dozen cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees, and line cupcake tin with liners.
1. Sift together in a bowl:
- 1-1/2 cups cake flour
- 1/2 t. baking powder
- 1/4 t. sea salt
2. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on medium, cream together until light in color and fluffy:
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
3. Continue beating in the following, one at a time:
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 t. almond extract
4. On low speed, mix in the flour mixture from #1, then add in:
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
5. Distribute batter evenly among the cupcake wells, and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a rack.
To make the frosting:
Cream together the following:
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
- 1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
After frosting the cupcakes, sprinkle shaved or shredded coconut on top.