Creamy Coconut Lime Cupcakes

This is a recipe that I made for the Great Wedding Cupcake Experiment of 2009.  I have recently reinstated a “cupcake collective” at the office and I vowed to bring back this crowd-pleaser as my inaugural bake.

Seriously, this cupcake got so much hype when I brought it in the first time.  It didn’t make the final cut for the wedding but it’s the one everyone remembers with fondness.  I also remember it as being one of the few recipes I made where everything turned out exactly as it was supposed to, which is rare when you’re me.

These pale babies come from page 26 of Susannah Blake’s Cupcake Heaven, and I always double my recipes.  In my notes I took from last time, I found that the cupcakes were best if not allowed to brown, and that I used extra ingredients in the frosting, which was originally too cream-cheesy for my taste.  But that’s up to you.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Line a muffin pan with baking cups (the amounts are for the single version of the recipe, but the photos show me tripling).

Beat together 6 tablespoons room temperature butter, 2 tablespoons coconut cream, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a bowl.  The mixture should be pale and fluffy.

Beat in 2 eggs, one a time.

Sift in 3/4 cup self-rising flour (or add 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder to 1 cup regular flour for the correct proportion and reduce accordingly) together with 1 teaspoon baking powder.  Fold that in.

Add in 3 tablespoons dried shredded coconut (unsweetened or sweetened, that’s your choice) as well as the grated zest of one lime and stir it in well.

Finally, stir in 2 tablespoons milk.

Use a table spoon to spoon the mixture into the cups, and bake for pretty much exactly 17 minutes until risen and golden.  A toothpick inserted in the centre will come out clean.

Flip them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, beat together 5 oz cream cheese (5/8 of a cup if you care, which is slightly over half of one of those 250g packages), 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar for the neophytes), and 2 teaspoons lime juice in a bowl.  As I mentioned above, I ended up adding extra sugar and extra lime juice, but that’s my own preference.

Swirl the frosting on top of the cupcakes, then sprinkle with shredded coconut or coconut shavings in a thick layer.

EAT!

Made-Up Muffins

Yesterday I looked in my fridge and saw a little less than a cup of fruit sauce leftover from a waffle indulgence during Cait and iPM’s visit, a can of defrosted concentrated orange juice that I had never gotten around to making up, and about two cups of buttermilk, which was set to expire the following day.

Muffin time.

If I’ve learned anything from my baking idol Ovenhaven over at Epicurean Escapism, it’s that the key to baking a good muffin is not to overmix your ingredients.  This is why I now mix my muffins by hand, and not with a hand mixer or stand mixer.  From my own experience I’ve also learned that if you’re adding a lot of liquid, you need to compensate with extra dry ingredients.  So this particular recipe I had to do some thinking and some mental calculations first. 

The fruit sauce plus the concentrated orange juice came out to about two cups, so that meant I had to double the recipe.  In a weird way this meant that I came out with 36 regular sized muffins and another 12 mini-muffins.  So be it.

Anyway, here goes.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease your muffin tins or line them with paper cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together a little over 4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg.  The baking powder will counterbalance some of the acidity in the buttermilk.

In a smaller bowl, mix together 1 cup melted butter, 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 4 eggs, 2 cups buttermilk, and your 2 cups juice mixture.

This one is weirdly bubbly and gross, but smelled good.

Pour your wet ingredients over your dry ingredients and mix just until the dry ingredients are all moistened.  Don’t fret if you see one or two tiny spots of unmixed flour.  Err on the side of mixing it too little.  Mixing it too much will result in flat, tough muffins.  

You can see here how the chemistry is already beginning and the mixture is getting all bubbly.

Spoon into your pans so the cups are about 2/3 full and bake, rotating once halfway through, for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the muffin comes out clean.

I couldn’t wait for it to cool before trying one.  Totally worth a burnt tongue.

Serve right away or seal tightly in plastic bags and freeze for later. 

Molasses Gems

This is a special treat my mother used to make us in her æbleskiver pan.  You can use mini-muffin pans as well.  Her grandmother used to make these when she went to visit, so it’s an old recipe.

This recipe makes for 24 mini muffins.

Preheat your oven to 400°F and grease your pans.

Sift together 2 cups flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon ginger and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons softened butter

Add in 1 cup dark molasses and 2 eggs.  Blend well.

It should look like some form of prehistoric tar deposit.  Bubbles included.Add in flour mixture, as well as 1/2 cup sour milk (milk with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda stirred in) or 1/2 cup buttermilk.

Mix it up. 

Spoon into mini-muffin tins, or half-fill small muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes or until puffy and brown.  Let cool.

Store in an airtight container.  If they last that long.

This is what the æbleskiver ones come out like.  Round gems.

Aeble-what?

I happen to own, because I am that awesome, an æbleskiver pan.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?” you ask.

Æbleskiver.  It’s a Danish treat using apple slices (it’s Danish for ‘apple slices’).  They’re like small spherical pancakes/popovers with stuff in them.  It’s a food traditionally served with glogg during Advent.  You might be reminded of the commercial knock-off, Pancake Puffs, which have recently come on the market.  ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTIONS!

I have the pan because my mother gave it to me.  She found it at a second-hand store.  Hers came from a relative.  We use ours to make the family recipe for Molasses Gems (don’t worry, I’ll give you the how-to for those later).

Anyway, I figured I might as well experiment and see if I could put the pan to its intended use.

Peel two apples and chop them into 1/2″ pieces.  I found this made me end up with quite a bit of extra apple, but better to be safe than sorry and you can always serve it on the side.

Your æbleskiver pan is cast iron, and will take a little while to heat up thoroughly.  Put it on the burner at medium high heat and leave it while you do other stuff.  Just remember that the handle will also get very hot, so be careful.  We have these handy silicone sleeves we slip onto our metal handles.  You can pick them up pretty much anywhere.

In another pan, sauté the apples in two tablespoons butter until softened but still firm.  Sprinkle them with cinnamon and set aside.

In a clean bowl, whip two egg whites until soft peaks form and set aside.  The eggs will fluff up the best if you bring them to room temperature first.  To do this I put my eggs in a bowl of warm water before separating them.

In another bowl, whisk together your two egg yolks and one tablespoon sugar until creamy.

In yet another bowl, sift together two cups flour with one teaspoon baking powder.  Slowly add this, alternating with one and one-half cups buttermilk, to the yolk mixture.

Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Test your æbleskiver pan to see if it’s hot enough.  Butter should sizzle on its surface.  Reduce the heat to medium and drop about one-eighth of a teaspoon butter into each little well to grease.  Use a pastry brush to cover all the sides of the well.

Spoon enough batter into each well to fill it halfway.  Drop in an apple piece and press it down bit. Be careful not to burn yourself.

Fill the wells to the top.

Allow to cook until the edges of æbleskiver turn brown and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Run a metal or wooden knitting needle (traditional method), skewer, or fork around the edges to loosen the æbleskiver and flip it over inside the well. 

It takes a little bit of practice to do this without getting batter everywhere.  By the end of it, though, I had it down.  Allow to cook through until you can give it a poke and nothing comes out stuck to your skewer.

Remove the æbleskiver to a plate and sprinkle with (or roll in) icing sugar or dip in jam to serve.  Maybe try maple syrup.  Or home-made fruit sauce.  You can of course experiment as well with what goes in the æbleskiver – try other forms of fruit, like mango or strawberry or perhaps something savoury like a nice hard cheese.  Here we have it with whipped cream, lemon curd, strawberry jam, and leftover apples.

Make sure to repeat the buttering process each time you put batter into the wells of the pan.  You can keep the cooked æbleskiver warm on an oven-safe plate in the oven at 250°F while you’re making the other batches.

This recipe makes about 28 æbleskiver, which is four batches in my 7-well pan.

Blueberry Muffins with Yogurt and Lemon

The Pie had some classmates over to collaborate on a project, and I never feel like a good host unless I have something to serve for a snack. This recipe makes about 24 muffins, which leaves you with some to eat now and some to freeze for a time when you aren’t at leisure to bake.

These blueberry muffins are a modification on the classic recipe, and they’re super easy and super moist.  They remind me more of a cupcake than a muffin.  The yogurt keeps the batter dense and soft, while the lemon and nutmeg make for a tangier taste.

I mix these by hand because the batter is supposed to be lumpy, and I find an electric mixer tends to overmix.  I also prefer using a large whisk to do all of this, as it keeps flour and liquids from sloshing all over my kitchen.

Preheat your oven to 400°F and spray two 12-muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.

Use a whisk to prevent flour clouds from attacking you.

In another, smaller bowl, whisk together 4 large eggs, 2 cups plain yogurt, 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup melted butter, the juice and zest of 2 lemons, and 2 teaspoons vanilla.

This gooey mass will be muffins soon.

Add the wet stuff to the dry stuff and mix only until the dry ingredients are moistened (a whisk will help you to prevent overmixing).

Add 1 to 2 cups frozen blueberries (depending on how berry-full you like your muffins) and mix in.

Add in as many frozen blueberries as you can handle.

Spoon generous amounts into the prepared muffin pans and sprinkle the tops with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar.

Bake about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the middle muffin comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the pans for a few minutes, then use a fork to gently pry out the muffins and place on a rack to cool completely.  Once cool, the muffins can be stored in plastic freezer bags and frozen for a couple of months.

Eat as soon as possible, or freeze for future snacking.

Bran Muffins

The Pie LOVES bran muffins.  I have never truly understood this addiction but nonetheless he persists.

Get all your ingredients out before you start.

This is a modified recipe from the Joy of Cooking (1996 edition).

Position a rack in the centre of your oven and preheat it to 400°F.  Grease 2 standard 12-muffin pans or line with paper baking cups.  I prefer to use baking cups when it comes to bran muffins because they’re extra sticky due to the honey, molasses, and sugar they contain.  It just makes cleanup easier.

Leave the bran to soak for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl (I used the bowl of my KitchenAid mixer, which I adore), combine 1 2/3 cups wheat bran with 1 cup boiling water and let stand for 15 minutes.

In another bowl (or a measuring cup, which I find is easier because it has a handle), whisk together 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Into the bran mixture, whisk 3/4 cup honey, 1/3 cup light molasses (I used dark, because I prefer the taste), 6 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and then 1/4 cup of plain Balkan style yogurt instead), 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (again, I prefer the darker stuff), and 1 teaspoon grated orange zest (which I didn’t have, so it’s not in these muffins).  I also added in 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract because I generally add vanilla to everything.

I mixed all the wet ingredients together first.

Whisk in (well if you’re using a mixer, then mix in) 2 large eggs, then stir in 1 1/3 cups raisins (I would up this next time to 2 full cups).

Stir in the raisins. Use lots.

Fold in the flour mixture until just moistened.  The batter should be lumpy but still soupy.  Spoon the batter into the muffin pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes.

I'm not very good at being tidy with muffins.

Let cool for 2-3 minutes then use a fork to gently pry the muffins out of the pan.  Serve hot or cool on a rack for eating the next day.

Mmmmuffins . . .