Coconut Mango Cupcakes

I was getting pretty tired of winter. It seems to have lasted 5 months this year. I am loving warmer weather, green grass and evening walks because the sun is still out past 6 pm.

0Needless to say, I made these when I was feeling wistful for spring. They were delicious then, and still are. The cupcake recipe doesn’t seem quite right because it is more like a sponge cake. Which is delicious with the mango filling and light, fluffy coconut buttercream.

Even though these involve a few steps they are certainly worth it! Plus, the steps can be be spread out over a couple of days, which make them a little more manageable to make.

There are three parts to this recipe. Part 1 – Mango curd filling Part 2 – Coconut Mango cupcake Part 3 – Coconut buttercream

Directions for the cupcake and mango curd are taken almost exactly from Ken Leung’s post on the Huffington Post.

Adapted from Ken Leung 

Part 1 – Mango curd/Filling

12 ounces mango puree (you can find this in the frozen food isle, with the smoothies)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice. freshly squeezed
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Place mango puree, sugar, lime juice, salt and yolks in a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisk constantly, until thickened and thermometer registers 170°F., about 8-10 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through a sieve into a container; place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of mango curd. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. This can be made well ahead of time.

Part 2 – Coconut Mango cupcake

1/4 cup mango pureé, as from above
3 large egg whites, room temperature (2 large egg white, 1 large egg)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cups (4 ounces) cake flour
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (5-1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 ounces (6 tablespoons/1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened

In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk together mango puree, egg whites, coconut milk, coconut oil and extracts. Set aside.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350℉. Grease and flour two silicon muffin pans or regular muffin pans, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add both flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 2 minutes. Add half of mango mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give batter final stir by hand.

Place about 1/4 cup of batter into each cup of prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool on wire rack completely, about 30 minutes. (Cooled cakes can be stored in air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

Part 3 – Coconut Buttercream

2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/8 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup toasted coconut

Cream butter, salt and coconut milk in a stand mixer. Add sugar in 1/2 cup intervals, incorporating fulling before adding the next 1/2 cup. Taste as you go and keep adding powdered sugar until you reach the sweetness you desire.

To assemble, cut a small hole in the top of the cupcake. Discard extra cupcake. Fill the hole with mango curd. Do not fill to the top and leave a little room at the top. Fill a plastic bag with the buttercream. Cut a small hole in one corner. To top cupcakes, squeeze the buttercream on top of the cupcake in a swirl, then sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Do not refrigerate! These cupcakes will stay in a airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a week (if you could keep yourself from eating them all).

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Grapefruit Curd

I’ve been doing quite a bit of baking lately (with pictures to come!).  After baking many items that required copious amounts of egg whites, I began to acquire quite the store of egg yolks.

Whats a girl to do with so many yolks?  As it turns out, after some googling, I found out the perfect thing to do is make curd!

Curd is an amazing food.  It has a soft jelly-like consistency and manages to be both sweet and sour at the same time.  You can even spread it on scones!  What a wonderful invention.  Now, I’ve spent years coveting the traditional lemon curds you find in grocery stores, often covered in a thin layer of dust in the British isle, or something obscure like that.  I am not sure why some people consider curd only acceptable for elderly woman at tea time.  But you can put it on ice cream, with oatmeal, in yogurt, and in macarons!  (soon to be made)  Curd is delicate and delightful and if you have not tried it, you certainly need to.

As it turns out, curd is actually incredibly easy to make.  I would highly recommend giving it a try if you have some aging fruit and older eggs. I had the perfect companion to the abandoned yolks, an aging grapefruit.  So in quite a complementary way, my soon-to-be discarded scraps became delicious grapefruit curd.  I love it when cooking turns out that way.

From Good Life Eats

1/2 cup grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grapefruit zest
1 – 1 1/2 cups sugar
8 egg yolks
10 tablespoons butter, sliced into tablespoons

In a saucepan, combine first 4 ingredients.  Heat over medium heat until the sugar mixture reaches a simmer.  Make sure all the sugar is dissolved, then turn heat down to low.

Whisk egg yolks until smooth.  Pour approximately half of the warm dissolved sugar mixture into the bowl with whisked egg yolks. Vigorously whisk together until combined.  Then, pour the combined egg and sugar mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sugar and juice mix.

Continue to cook over low heat while whisking until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, which should take about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time.

Cool to room temperature then store refrigerated in an airtight container for about a week.

Happy New Year with Gingerbread Dreams

Happy New Year!  2011 brought a LOT of changes for me.  I graduated with my doctorate, got married, got my first real job, and moved to a different state.  It certainly was a busy one for me.  With all that change, the blog got a little neglected, but I’m back with a lot of fun new kitchen gadgets and an arsenal of recipes, so watch out!

Wisconsin has not yet realized it is winter, so we have no standing snow and I haven’t even my pulled out my snow boots.  What is January without snow?  Saying that, I’m not complaining that it hasn’t been below freezing every day, but as a Midwesterner, I get a little suspicious when I can’t see the white stuff at the start of winter.

One thing that always makes me think of winter is gingerbread.  I revel in the earthy, slightly sweet and complex flavor.  I embrace the warm, spicy smell of it baking in the oven.  You can almost close your eyes and feel the snow softly falling outside while it bakes.  

Gingerbread has a wonderful history.  I’m sure most readers are familiar with gingerbread cookies, which are little cut out men that are often thin and crispy.  This is not the only type of gingerbread, rather this is a type of gingerbread cookie.  The other kind of gingerbread is a cakey, quick bread, more like a brownie than a cookie.  It originates from Europe, most notably central Europe in countries like Germany and France via Armenian monks.  Today, in these European countries, gingerbread is enjoyed in cookie form for gingerbread houses or large cookies worn as necklaces and in cake/bread form as squares or round shapes similar to muffin tops.  These are often lightly iced with vanilla or chocolate, and they are fantastic.  I have had the privilege of enjoying true German gingerbread, and there really is nothing like it.  But this comes close.  🙂

From Lick My Spoon

Black, Sticky Gingerbread

You can bake this in two 9×5 bread pans to make a loaf or you can cook it in a 9×9 pan for something more similar to a cake or brownie.

1 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup unsulphured molasses

3/4 cup of quality honey

1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp mace or nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground clove

3 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup milk

1 Tbl packed, grated ginger

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Lightly grease baking pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper that has been cut to hang over two opposite edges by a couple of inches.

Combine the butter, water, molasses, honey and brown sugar in a medium non-reactive saucepan and place over low heat.  The most common non-reactive is stainless steel or glass.  Stir the mixture frequently until the butter is melted, and all of the ingredients are well blended. Remove from the heat, pour into a large bowl and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, all-spice and cloves, and set aside. When the molasses mixture feels just warm to the touch, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the milk and stir to combine. Fold the dry ingredients into the batter in four additions, using big, long strokes. Don’t be concerned if you can’t get all the lumps out.  Stir in the grated ginger.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours for a full pan, around 1 hour for bread pan, or until the top of the cake springs back when touched and a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then, using the overhang of parchment, lift the cake out of the pan and cool completely before cutting.

Breakfast Cookies

I’m on a roll this month!  This is another guest spot from my friend living in Germany.  She has been experimenting with recipes, especially those that incorporate cookies into breakfast!  This is recipe is especially nice because it is flexible.  She provided me with a base recipe, but you can add any other tasty ingredients you would like.  There are all sorts of different things you can add: craisins, raisins, or other dried fruit, chocolate chips, chopped almonds or walnuts, flax seeds, or sesame seeds.  (Personally, I think dried cherries, flax, and walnuts sound fabulous!)  You can also substitute half of the flour with whole wheat flour for a slightly less guilty indulgence.

Thanks for the great recipe!  These cookies are sure to make breakfast much more exciting.  After all, who can’t use a little dessert in the morning? 🙂

The base recipe is:
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 ½ cups rolled oats
4 cups of flour
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp baking powder together in a bowl
Add 5 eggs and ¼ cup of vegetable oil and mix well.
(You can add small amounts of water to reach the correct consistency.)

These cookies will be baked on a greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about eight to ten minutes.

Mix brown sugar with egg and oil mixture.  In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to sugar, egg and oil mixture.

Lastly, add in any other yummy ingredients.  My friend used chopped almonds, 1/2 package of craisins, and 1/2 package of chocolate chips.  They turn out kind of like granola bar and a muffin mixed together; quite tasty 🙂

Drop cookies onto greased cookie sheet and bake.  Then ENJOY!

Sweet and Spicy Popcorn

The other night, my boyfriend and I sat down to watch a movie.  It was a nice evening in.  We cuddled up on the couch, shielding ourselves from the thunderstorm outside.  We were just getting ready to push play when we looked at each other in bewilderment.  We are missing something.  But what could it be?  Popcorn, of course!

Popcorn is not just a a great addition to movie night.  It’s a scrumptious treat.  And it doesn’t have to be plain, old, boring popcorn and butter.   You can do all sorts of things with it!  My boyfriend actually had the idea for this one.  He said he wanted popcorn, but with a kick – a sweet, but spicy kick.  We tried this mixture and it was actually, very good.  This is a wonderfully exciting way to spice up a standard treat.  Oh, and the movie wasn’t bad either.

Approximately 6 cups of popcorn, popped

3 Tbls of butter

3 Tbls of honey

1/4 to 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)

coarse sea salt to flavor

Melt butter, honey, and cayenne together in microwave.  This will only take a few seconds.  Pour mixture over popcorn.  Toss and top with salt.  Enjoy!

Baklava

Who doesn’t like a ooey-gooey dessert?  Recently, I was in a cold medicine haze and something popped in my head, “wouldn’t it be lovely to have some sweet, nutty, sticky baklava?”  Since that haze, I have been craving the Middle Eastern treat.  Lucky for me, baklava is surprisingly easy to make!

Baklava is the name given to a variety of sweet pastries made of nuts, phyllo dough and honey.  These ingredients can be combined in many different ways to make the pastry.  Some people say you shouldn’t use salted nuts, but I say go for it!  Every sweet dish needs a little salt to bring out the sweet anyway.

This is my own recipe:

1 cup shelled pistachios

1 cup walnuts

1 cup cashews

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugarBaklava

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 package of frozen phyllo dough

Approximately 1/3 cup of melted butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup orange blossom honey

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon zest

Chop nuts up in a food processor.  Mix nuts with granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix well to ensure it will spread evenly. Brush some melted butter on the bottom of an 8×8 pan.

Begin layering by placing one phyllo dough sheet on top of the butter.  Brush the phyllo with the melted butter.  Place another phyllo sheet on top of the other.  Brush with melted butter.  Continue to layer this way until there is at least 5 sheets layered on top of one another.  Then, spread the nut mixture on top and repeat.  Keep layering until the nut and sugar mixture is gone.  Top with 5 more layers of the phyllo dough.

When done, cut your baklava!  It is important to cut it BEFORE cooking.  Place into an oven heated to 350 degrees.  Cook for approximately 35-45 minutes, or until nut mixture is melting and dough is golden brown.

While the baklava is baking, make the syrup to cover it.  Begin by mixing sugar and water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Add honey, vanilla, and lemon zest and reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Once baklava is done, remove from oven and immediately pour syrup mixture over baklava.  Let cool and enjoy!