Life is beautiful and busy, and suddenly April has come and gone with no cupcake posting from me (we were doing tea flavors, if you recall)! Susanna visited me for two weeks (post on our adventures forthcoming!), and she pretty much whipped up this project for me. I made dinner while she made cupcakes--isn't that a nice trade-off? I loved having another woman in the kitchen with me! Not only did she make the cupcakes, but she also took pictures, and collaborated on the frosting. So, you see, I can hardly take credit for these delicious beauties, but I can certainly post them on my blog and rave about my sister's baking prowess!
Feast...joy...savor...coming as soon as these cupcakes are finished!
Cooking: a beautiful mess. The smartphone seems to be used just as much as the hard-copy cookbook these days!
Cooking: a not-so-beautiful mess
The frosting was a fun adventure! After a tip from a friend, I went and devoured (figuratively, not literally) "The Battle of the Buttercreams" in which an adventurous cook makes more buttercreams than I knew existed and tests them out in a blind taste taste with a final winner and overall scores.
Susanna and I opted to make the winning buttercream, but before we got to taste it, we had to stir...
...and stir! It was a long process. Prepare yourself. I was ready to call it "good" several times, but Susanna kept saying that it wasn't truly bubbling yet, and we needed to keep going. She was right, of course.
And it turned out amazing. Such a silky texture with a rich, buttery flavor that simple powdered sugar and butter could never achieve. German buttercream has ruined me forever.
Oh the joy! Can we eat them yet?
Not quite--first you must have a staring contest with the cupcake.
I have it on good authority that Susanna won this staring contest.
These cupcakes turned out incredibly moist with good coconut flavor, though I wish I could have increased the coconut flavor without resorting to artificial flavoring that didn't taste quite as good as true coconut. The tea flavor is delicate, and an excellent background for the coconut. These were also probably the easiest I've made so far (and not just because Susanna did all the work!), but the complex buttercream kept us in the kitchen for a good while. There really were no negatives to this recipe, and I'd certainly make it again!
Coconut Chai Cupcakes
Adapted from Food and Wine
Makes 1 dozen cupcakes
3/4 cup sifted coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chai tea powder (an unsweetened concentrate, such as Blue Lotus)
6 large eggs
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
3 tablespoons coconut milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coconut flavor
Adapted from The Tough Cookie
1 bag or 2 teaspoons good quality black tea
50g (or ¼ cup) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 egg yolks
50g (or ¼ cup) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon coconut flavor
200g (or ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. Heat milk in the microwave and add tea (if using a bag, open the bag and empty the leaves into the milk). Allow to steep for 5 - 10 minutes, depending upon taste, and then strain the tea leaves from the milk.
2. Make a simple custard. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, 50g of sugar and the vanilla. In a heatproof bowl, combine the cornstarch with a little splash of the milk mixture. Stir to a smooth paste. Add another splash of milk an stir to incorporate. Whisk in the egg yolks and sugar until frothy and well combined; set aside. Gently heat milk/sugar/vanilla mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the milk mixture has reached boiling point and bubbles start to appear around the edges of the pan, slowly drizzle the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Once all the milk has been added, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat over low heat. Whisking continuously, wait until the first bubbles appear and the mixture has thickened. Pour into a clean heatproof bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool to body temperature (set bowl in cold water to hasten cooling process).
3. Once the custard has cooled sufficiently, mix in the coconut flavor and the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each tablespoon of butter is incorporated before adding the next. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or for up to 2 months in the freezer in a freezeproof container or bag.
4. To use buttercream that has been refrigerated, allow to come to room temperature (this takes about 3 hours in a warm kitchen) or microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until it's soft. Then mix through until it's spreadable again. Thaw frozen buttercream in the fridge overnight, then allow to come to room temperature before use and, once at room temperature, mix briefly until smooth.
5. Serve at room temperature. If you've assembled a cake or decorated cupcakes, allow cake or cupcakes to come to room temperature before serving (about 3 hours in a warm kitchen).