June 15, 2012

pina colada cupcakes

Now that it's summertime, I'm on a kick of cocktail-inspired cupcakes - which I will refer to as cuptails from here on. It's amazing how you can adapt a simple, tried and true recipe into something novel and outrageously delicious. 

Without a doubt, the pina colada is my favourite patio/beach indulgence. I practically sustain myself on them during all-inclusive Caribbean holidays. The combination of the two tropical and exotic flavours is pretty much perfection. Naturally I wanted to re-interpret that pairing in cake.

Coconut Cupcakes
(recipe yields 24 cupcakes)

2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
4 eggs
2 tsp coconut extract

No substitutes for coconut milk.

Heat oven to 350F. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add oil, followed by eggs, one at a time. Mix on high for 2 minutes. Slowly add coconut milk, continue mixing. Add extract and mix for 1 minute. Pour batter into cupcake liners (about 2 large tablespoons per cupcake) and bake for 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  

Pineapple Buttercream Icing:
recipe yields 2-3 cups

2/3 cup egg whites
1 cup white sugar
2 cups butter (4 sticks)
1 cup pineapple juice

Heat egg whites in a double boiler stirring frequently so that egg whites do not become cooked. Slowly add sugar and mix thoroughly for about 5 minutes or until mixture reaches 55C. Transfer mixture to mixing bowl and whip on high until stiff peaks form. Switch mixer attachment to paddle and slowly incorporate butter. Turn the speed up until mixture becomes uniform. Add juice and mix until incorporated.

I garnished these cupcakes with a sprinkling of toasted sweetened coconut flakes (broiled for 2 minutes in the oven) and a cherry made of fondant, because I... no excuses. A maraschino cherry belongs on top of this cupcake. Or a pineapple slice. Or both. 

This recipe can be pretty easily modified if you want pineapple and coconut flavours in both components; simply add 1/2 cup crushed pineapple to the cupcake recipe, or coconut extract or flakes to the buttercream. I, however, find that the coconut cake and pineapple buttercream pair so perfectly together and accurately reflect the cocktail and recommend the recipe(s) as is.

Enjoy summer. Have a cuptail. I did.