Kelly, www.americancupcakeabroad.com, has the most fantastic blog, everything looks yummy, don't read it if you are hungry!
In a fantastic flash of inspiration she has started a cupcake book club, the basic premise is to read a book with a foodie theme then bake a delicious treat inspired by the book. You can read all the details here, why don't you join in?
This months book is called Love in the making (also called Semi sweet: A novel of love and cupcakes) by Roisin Meany and it centres on Hannah opening a cupcake shop in Ireland. Lots of flavours of cupcake are mentioned but not specific execution, which allows you to be creative.
The words vanilla coconut jumped out at me and that was the starting point for my cupcake.
I made a vanilla cupcake filled with a coconut pastry cream, this was frosted with a marshmallow frosting and the whole thing topped with toasted dessicated coconut.
Vanilla Coconut cupcakes
For the cakes:
125g butter at room temperature
125g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste (what I would recommend) or 1 tsp vanilla extract (NOT vanilla flavouring)
2 medium eggs at room temperature
125g self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
3 tbsp milk
For the pastry cream:
2 egg yolks (you will use the whites in the frosting)
50g caster sugar
12g plain flour
175ml coconut milk (I used light)
For the marsmallow frosting:
225g caster sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 egg whites at room temperature
pinch cream of tarter
First make the pastry cream to allow it time to chill in the fridge.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and flour until light and thick.
Put the coconut milk in a saucepan and bring it slowly just up to the boil. Pour the hot coconut milk onto the egg mixture slowly, whisking all the time. Return the mixture to the pan and stir over a low-medium heat until it comes up to a gentle boil. (It must boil for it to thicken.) Continue to cook, stirring all the time, for 2 minutes or until it has thickened. Mine thickened very quickly.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour into a bowl.
Cover with Clingfilm, the surface of the Clingfilm must touch the custard or a skin will form, and allow to completely cool in the fridge.
Next make the cakes. Beat your butter, sugar and vanilla together until very light and fluffy, this can take up to 7 minutes (!) depending on the speed of your mixer, thankfully it takes me about 3-4.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat for a further two minutes.
Add the flour and baking powder and mix until just combined. Finally add 3 tbsp of milk and mix till combined
Fill each of your cases 2/3 full and bake in a preheated oven at 180/Fan 160oC for ~20minutes. They are done when they are lightly springy on top. Allow the cakes to fully cool on a wire rack.
Once the cakes are completely cool cut out a cone and fill the cavity with the pastry cream, put the cone back in, trimming it to fit.
Next make the frosting. In a small saucepan, combine the caster sugar with the water and bring to a boil over a moderately high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved, this will take ~2 to 3 minutes.
Beat the egg whites (with a hand or free standing electric whisk) with the pinches of cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form.
With the mixer at medium speed, carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites, make sure you keep whisking as you pour the syrup in. Continue beating the frosting until cool and billowy, the bottom of the bowl should feel cool, this will take about 5 minutes.
Pipe swirls onto the top of the cupcakes and top with toasted dessicated coconut. (to do this just put dessicated coconut in a pan and toast lightly till golden, keep an eye on it, it will turn very quickly).
These cupcakes are one of the nicest I have eaten in a long time, the flavours and textures are made for each other. The general consensus is that the frosting could be eaten straight from the bowl with a spoon. Nb. Do keep an eye on your frosting otherwise partners/lodgers/houseguests might just well attempt to do this from under your nose...
The only downside was I gave most of these away as gifts. I am under strict instructions to make them again soon and this time not let one solitary cupcake out of our front door!