Saturday, April 28, 2012

Birds Nest Cupcakes

It's really looking like Spring, isn't it? Birds singing, puppies running, kids squealing in parks. Mesquitos biting, allergies flaring, and A/C required. But no biggie. Here's a sunny, happy little treat for you and the KIDS in your life, whether or not they're under 18.

Birds Nest Cupcakes
(Almond cupcakes with chocolate frosting toasted coconut and egg candies)
Adapted from Martha
Makes 24 regular size or 40 mini cupcakes

This sweet treat is simple, fun and fancy free. 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 & 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (reg milk works, too)
2 t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla extract
Pastel candy-coated chocolate eggs or almonds

step one: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, putting racks in the middle of the oven. Line 24 muffin cups with liners. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a second bowl (or your elec. mixer), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, almond, and vanilla, then the dry mixture. Mix until blended and smooth. At the very end, add 1/2 cup shredded coconut and mix in.

step two: Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full of batter. Bake 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the cupcakes. Let the cupcakes cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes.

step three: Prepare the quick frosting or use a jar of ready-made (I used chocolate, but if you have 7 extra minutes, it's worth making the one below...

step four: [While the cupcakes are cooling] Toast the coconut by spreading out 2 cups of it onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, shaking halfway through to avoid burning. NOTE: Watch this carefully, as it is VERY EASY to burn sweetened coconut in the oven. If you have extra, store in an airtight container and put on your ice cream, yogurt or oatmeal in the mornings; it'll keep for over a month! When the coconut is toasted to your liking, put into a small bowl. Try not to eat it all.

step five: Spread 1-2 TB of frosting onto each cooled cupcake. Then either 1)dip or 2)sprinkle 1-2 TB of coconut onto each frosted cupcake. Top with one or two candy eggs and -voila!- you have Spring in a Cupcake!

Quick Frosting:
Basic Vanilla Buttercream
Barely Adapted from Billy

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
6 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 t. vanilla extract (clear in color if you have it)

Put the paddle attachment onto your mixer. Cream the butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. On low speed, add sugar, milk and vanilla. Mix 3 minutes or so, until light and fluffy. Spread onto cupcakes or cake.

These would be great as a gift or at a brunch, or maybe for kids to take to school (although I hear that isn't allowed in all schools these days...). Either way, happy weekend and happy baking!!


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