In the eight weeks of the Food section's Cupcake Wars series, not a single coconut cupcake came our way that could match these.
For even more coconut flavor, use coconut milk instead of heavy cream in the cream cheese frosting (the frosting will be a little softer). The frosting should be applied within 30 minutes of when it was made. (A cream cheese-frosted cupcake calls for refrigeration within a few hours, but there are caveats about keeping cupcakes cold; see related story, "The Ten Commandments of Cupcakes").
Servings: 24 cupcakes
- For the cupcakes
- 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsifted flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup sour cream (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
- 1 cup lightly packed sweetened flaked coconut
- For the frosting
- 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 5 tablespoons (1/2 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream (may substitute coconut milk)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 5 1/2 cups unsifted confectioners' sugar
- 1 1/2 cups lightly packed sweetened flaked coconut
For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg on a sheet of wax or parchment paper.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add half of the sugar and beat for 1 minute; add the remaining sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed for 45 seconds each time, then add the vanilla extract. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Reduce the speed to low. Alternately add the sifted mixture in 3 additions and the sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture. The batter will be smooth and moderately thick. Add the coconut, beating on low until incorporated.
Divide the batter among the cupcake liners, filling them slightly more than half-full. Bake for 18 minutes (start checking at 15 minutes) or until the cupcakes have risen and completely set. A wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a baked cupcake will withdraw with a few moist crumbs attached.
Cool the cupcakes in the pans on wire cooling racks for 15 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to the wire racks to cool completely.
For the frosting: Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until creamy and well incorporated.
Add the vanilla extract, heavy cream and nutmeg; beat to combine, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to low; add the confectioners' sugar in 3 additions, beating between additions until thoroughly combined.
Use a flexible palette knife to spread the frosting as thickly as possible on top of the cooled cupcakes, creating a generous 1- to 2-inch cap on top. Sprinkle the frosted surfaces of the cupcakes with the coconut.
Adapted from "Baking by Flavor," by Lisa Yockelson (Wiley, 2002).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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