My dear friend Rachelle makes the worlds best coconut cake. It's absolutely out of this world incredible, so much so it's the one thing I wished for (and received) last year on my 24th birthday. In fact, I'd say it's the only thing I remember about my birthday last year, besides this cake, it just wasn't that memorable!
I adore this cake. Wait, I shouldn't make that statement yet because I swear there's something different between this cake and the cake I ate for my birthday last year. To me, they just don't seem to be the same cake. Let me explain. About a week ago I promised my Psych teacher that I would bring something sweet for our last class of the quarter as she was contemplating buying pizza or cookies. I felt that the group of students I've been in class with, who have worked hard for the last three months, deserved a special sweet treat. Our class has been a long three hour stretch late in the evening every Wednesday. That's a hefty length of time to spend cooped up in a classroom, let alone as the days got longer and spring began to bloom and blossom all around us. This was also one of those classes where your in different groups every week, discussing, and I'd been going on to a slew of my peers about how much I loved to bake and cook. So, I figured it was about time to show my chops. I quickly settled on cupcakes, a treat I used to bake up on a weekly basis but have since lost my passion for. Don't get me wrong, I still eat cupcakes (of course) I just don't bake them like I used to. Thinking cake my brain got stuck on coconut, so I turned to Rachelle for guidance. Rachelle turned me over to this recipe.
Let me start by saying that this is a great recipe. However, for me, it was pretty far from coconut. Kind of crazy considering it has a whole can of coconut cream. Maybe it's the cupcake form? I don't see how that could be exactly. . . but it was what it was. A very good vanilla cake. Moist, light, and delicate. Even the cream cheese frosting, laden with even more coconut cream which I had high hopes would lend a kick of coconut flavor, didn't really deliver. The only element that really did was the crust of toasted shaved coconut (and toasted almonds) I coated the top of each cake with. They may have been one of the best vanilla cupcakes I've baked, but they sure didn't scream coconut to me.
Now, I'm hoping you don't feel that I've lured you here under false pretenses, something along the lines of 'Come read about my delicious coconut cupcakes, but muah-ha-ha, they're in fact vanilla!' You see, I had to share because they still turned out wonderfully, and were devoured quickly and happily with one student going as far to profess to me 'this is the best cupcake I've ever had in my entire life!'. Maybe you can pump up the coconut volume a bit? Maybe you don't want to and will simply enjoy the moist richness the coconut cream adds to the cake. Either way, they're simply scrumptious. I'm not the least bit disappointed in my choice, and, in my book these cupcakes are worth your time in the kitchen.
Recipe : Coconut Layer Cake from the Shubox Cafe, NJ
(adapted to make 2 dozen regular sized cupcakes)
2 3/4 cups ap flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp
1 cup sweetened coconut cream (I used Coco Lepez as the recipe suggests)
4 large eggs separated, room temp also
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
2. Whisk dry ingredients, flour through salt, in a medium size bowl. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, or with a hand mixer, cream butter, sugar, and coconut cream until light and fluffy (appx. 3 minutes)
4. Add the egg yolks, and the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
5. On very low speed add 1/3 of your dry ingredients to batter until just incorporated, then 1/2 of your buttermilk until incorporated. Continue this (1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk) until both are gone, starting and ending in flour. This whole process should take no more than a minute and half, be sure not to over work the flour/batter or you will have hockey pucks and not light airy cake!
6. Set batter aside. In another medium sized bowl (I wiped my flour bowl clean) whip your egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into cake batter.
7. Using a standard ice cream scoop, fill liners 2/3 full (about one full scoop). Bake in oven 20 minutes until just lightly golden and puffed. Remove and cool.
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 stick butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
(recipe suggests 2 cups, I don't like my frosting that sweet, I want to taste the cream cheese!)
1/2 cup canned sweetened coconut cream
garnish: toasted shaved coconut, almond shavings
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, or with hand mixer, beat the cream cheese. Add the butter and incorporate well.
2. Add sugar, and cream, beating until fluffy and smooth.
3. Assemble cupcakes, generously spread frosting over each cupcake top, roll in toasted coconut, garnish with fresh flowers or berries.