Friday, January 13, 2012

Coconut Almond Cupcakes

I am a big fan of to-do lists. Before I can really start a busy day, I feel almost compelled to make a list, for fear that if I don’t make it, I will forget to do some vitally obvious thing. Though there are some tasks that manage to travel from list-to-list for months and months (aka: edit Stacey and Ben wedding photos), most of the time putting a task on my list helps me actually get it done. I must admit that I often judge the goodness of my day by the number of things I manage to accomplish. By the same token, I find that it’s easy for me to focus on the things I didn’t get done. Take today, for example. After Sydney and I got home from a vomit-free visit to the dog park (poor thing has terrible anxiety in the car), there just wasn’t time for me to bathe Sydney, get a run in, make birthday cupcakes, and still make it to my parents for dinner on time. “Hmm…Dog needs a bath, no question about that, so cupcakes or run? Cupcakes or run? Cupcakes and run? Cupcakes then run? That's it!” I immediately started hurrying to find a recipe, pull out the ingredients, and preheat the oven. As I was dumping the second half of the sugar into the mixing bowl, I realized that I didn’t want to rush to get it all done. So I slowed down and enjoyed the moment. Turned on the Avett Brothers; gave up on the run. I was even early to the amazing seafood dinner prepared by my parents. There is no doubt that crossing things off my to-do list makes me feel good; however, most of the time it is the intangible, noncheckoffable things that make me feel best.
Today was a good day.

Coconut Almond Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
cake recipe adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Makes 16 cupcakes

Preheat oven 350º

On a baking sheet, place:
1 cup sweetened coconut
Bake for 5-10 minutes or until coconut is light brown. Remove from oven. Set aside to let cool. You’ll use this to decorate the cupcakes after they’re frosted.

In a large electric mixing bowl, mix:
1 2/3 cup cake flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Once they’re thoroughly combined, add:
12 tablespoons butter, softened (not melted)
Mix until dry ingredients are moistened. Use spatula to scrape down the sides. Mix at high speed for 1 1/2 minutes to develop cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides again.

In a medium bowl, combine:
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Use a fork to break-up the eggs and combine ingredients.

Add one-third of this mixture to the large bowl. Beat at medium speed for 20 seconds. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Repeat twice more.

1/3 cup sweetened coconut, minced
Mix until evenly combined, being careful not to over mix.
Line cupcake pan with decorative baking cups. Fill each cupcake holder with a scant 1/4 cup of batter. Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely on rack before icing.

While cupcakes are baking, prepare cream cheese frosting.

In a large electric bowl combine:
8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix for 30 seconds and then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix again until no lumps remain (this is why it’s important for the butter and cream cheese to be at room temperature).

Frost cupcakes. Sprinkle generously with toasted coconut.

Eat up!

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