Pineapple Coconut Cupcakes

Being known as a compulsive baker has its perks.  You get to experiment and try new things because it’s just a given that you will make a sweet treat for pretty much any occasion.  You also inherit leftover ingredients to incorporate into a yet-to-be-determined confection.  Last week my mother-in-law handed over her leftover coconut milk from her awesome carrot soup to incorporate into my next 4 desserts (there was a LOT of coconut milk leftover).

On the contrary to these perks, I feel like I have a lot to live up to, and that I always have to top myself.  Also, I get suuuuuper agitated when a recipe flops…I do not react well to disappointment.  And if you ask the peeps I live with, Ali’s kitchen disappointment = cooking/baking items being slammed (or, in some cases, thrown) around the kitchen – also accompanied by yelling expletives and making ridiculous noises.  It’s a sight to be seen, so I’m told.  I blame it on my Italian temper, inherited from my darling Dad.

Anywhoooo, pretty sure you don’t want to hear about that…FOCUS Ali…

I love my Epicurious app because I can just pop in an ingredient that I have, highlight the dessert category, and voila, hundreds of options.  I settled on a recipe for a white cake with pineapple filling, seven minute frosting and toasted coconut.  I made a couple of adaptations, and I was quite satisfied with the result.  I tend to prefer buttercream icing, but seven minute frosting was perfect here.  The fluffy, marshmallow-like texture paired so well with the subtle coconut flavor of the cake and the syrupy pineapple filling.  Total win.  Definitely a nice change-up from the heavier, richer buttercream cupcakes I’ve been making of late.

For the cupcakes:
1 cup + 1 tablespoon cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten lightly

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line muffin tins with liners

Into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a glass measuring cup stir together milk and vanilla.

In a bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed cream butter 1 minute and add sugar in a steady stream, beating until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

Beat in eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition, until pale and fluffy.

Stir in flour mixture in 3 batches alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture and stirring after each addition until batter is smooth.

Divide batter in muffin tins, 3/4 full, and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.

Let cool cake layers in tins for 10 minutes, then transfer onto cooling racks. Let cool completely (30 minutes) before adding filling and frosting.

For the pineapple filling:
14 ounces crushed pineapple in unsweetened juice
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar

In a small, heavy saucepan stir together filling ingredients until cornstarch is dissolved.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then simmer, stirring, 3 minutes.  Cool filling completely.  Filling may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.

For seven-minute frosting:
1 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted golden and cooled

In a double boiler or in a large metal bowl with a hand-held electric mixer beat together all frosting ingredients except vanilla until combined.

Set mixture over a saucepan of boiling water and beat on high-speed until it holds stiff, glossy peaks, about 7 minutes.

Remove bowl from heat and beat in vanilla.  Beat frosting until cooled and spreadable.

To assemble: Using a cupcake corer, or a small knife, take a 1/4-1/2 inch circle out of the center of each cupcake.  Fill each cupcake with the pineapple mixture, mounding it on top to use all of it.  Top the pineapple with the cooled frosting and then top with toasted coconut.

Makes: 12 cupcakes
Time: 1 hour hands-on time + baking time
Adapted From: Gourmet c/o Epicurious

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