In January, the cupcake theme was coffee. Like a glutton for punishment, I decided to try again. I made chocolate cupcakes with chopped up espresso beans in them. Well, they looked ok, but they were a bit too crunchy to eat. I just couldn’t be embarassed twice in a row, so I sat out the January event.
By now, it’s February. I shouldn’t have looked at the theme, but I couldn’t help myself. Liquor. Now, that could be a possiblity. Maybe the third time would be the charm. First, I had to solve the cake problem. I needed a cake that would survive being a cupcake with a twist. Well, a classic genoise would do, I thought. Most Americans aren’t thrilled with genoise because it is a dry cake, but that is perfect for soaking up a syrup. A rum syrup. Rum. Ah, the light bulb went on! How about a Piña Colada cupcake? Rum, pineapple, coconut. Everything was there in my pantry. But would it work? I put it off until nearly the last minute, then decided to go for it.
I made half a recipe of the genoise – with my past experience, I didn’t want to waste ingredients or time. The cupcakes seemed to turn out ok. The rum syrup was a piece of cake (so to speak, maybe the pun is intended. . . . .) I used some of my precious rum that I hand-carried back from Puerto Rice a number of years ago. I highly recommend touring the Bacardi plant if you ever go visit. Let’s see. The frosting came next, so I searched for a pineapple coconut concoction. Not the easiest recipe to find, but I was successful. I halved that recipe, too, just in case. Should have made the whole thing, as it turned out, especially when I added the leftover rum syrup to it.
After I frosted the cupcakes, I felt they needed a bit more color, so I continued with the experiment. One cupcake under the broiler along with some loose coconut. You have to watch carefully while doing this – I didn’t want the cupcake paper to ignite or the loose coconut to burn. Personally, I would recommend toasting the loose coconut, and not broiling the frosted cupcake. The frosting stuck to the paper, and it didn’t get as pretty a toasted color as the loose coconut.
Ok. Time to taste. I tore apart the broiled cupcake and sampled it. The verdict? A success, at last. Worthy of being submitted to Cupcake Hero, and definitely worthy of being made again. Maybe I can bake a decent cupcake after all.
(Twenty-four hours later, the cupcakes taste even better.)
Piña Colada Cupcakes
(adapted from Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sifted cake flour
½ cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pour the melted butter into a 1-quart bowl and reserve.
Sift the flour one more time, adding in 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and the salt. Sift onto a piece of waxed paper and set aside.
Put the eggs and thre remaining sugar into a mixer bowl (can also use a hand-held mixer). With the whisk attachment, blend the ingredients, then whip on medium spped until it is airy, pale, and tripled in volume, about 4-5 minutes. It’s ready when the mixture galls back into the bowl in a ribbon that rests on the surface for about 10 seconds. If the ribbon immediately sinks, continue whipping for a few more minutes. Pour in the vanilla extact during the last few moments of whipping.
Remove bowl from mixer. Sprinkle about one third of the sifted flour mixture over the batter, and gently fold in until just incorporated. Fold the remaining flour into the batter in 2 more additions (3 times in all).
Gently spoon about 1 cup of the batter into the bowl containing the melted butter, and fold gently with a rubber spatula. Then, fold this mixture back into the main batter. Be very gentle at this stage, because the batter is fragile.
Spoon into cupcake papers.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until done.
When the cupcakes are cool, soak with Rum syrup. Then frost with the Coconut Pineapple frosting.
Place 3 ounces (75 g) water and 2.5 ounces (65 g) sugar in a saucepan. Boil until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool. Add .5 ounce (15 g) rum (or to taste!).
When cupcakes are cool, soak each one with some of the rum syrup. If you have any syrup leftover, stir it into the frosting.
Coconut Pineapple Frosting:
1 egg, beaten 3/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon flour 2 tablespoons butter 1 (81/2-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained 1 cup flaked, unsweetened coconut, plus a bit extra
In a small saucepan, cook egg, sugar, flour, butter and pineapple with juice over very low heat (if heat is too high, the egg will curdle). Stir frequently and cook until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. (This is sort of like a pineapple curd.)
Stir in coconut and blend well. Spread on cooled cupcakes. Toast some extra coconut and sprinkle on top of the cupcakes.