This year I was actually inspired by the weather we have been having here in Toronto – snow and ice!
The recipe for the “ice” is essentially one for a simple syrup. The trick is to cook it for a shorter amount of time than usual so it stays clear. I added a few drops of mint extract to it so that the “ice” has a cooling effect and also acts as a breath mint after you finish eating your cupcake. The “snow” is sweetened flaked coconut.
For the cake I decided to go with a coconut-vanilla bean cake. The frosting is a coconut meringue buttercream frosting. I love using meringue buttercream for my cakes and cupcakes – they have a lovely satin-like consistency and they are less sweet than those recipes that call for mounds and mounds of powdered sugar.
I hope you enjoy the cupcakes more than I enjoy our winter weather!
- For the Cake:
- 2¼ cups cake flour (See make your own cake flour directions below)
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 6 egg whites
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
- For the Frosting:
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 6 egg whites
- 1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup coconut milk
- For the Garnish:
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconutFor the "ice" Caramel:
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 1 Tablespoon of mint extract
- Directions for making cake flour:
- 1 cup AP flour - 2 Tablespoons AP flour + 2 Tablespoons cornstarch = 1 cup cake flour
- Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add cupcake holders to your cupcake pan; set aside.
- Sift the cake flour into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar, baking powder and salt and beat on low speed for 15 seconds to combine. Add the butter pieces and beat on low speed for 1 minute, or until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, coconut milk and the 1 cup shredded coconut until combined. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture and whisk to thoroughly incorporate the seeds throughout the mixture.
- Add half of the coconut milk mixture to the dry ingredients and beat on medium-high for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the remainder of the coconut milk mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds, or until the batter is well-mixed, light and fluffy.
- Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake cups and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the tops are firm and golden brown and spring back when pressed lightly in the center. Let the cupcakes cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, make the simple syrup "ice" pieces: Bring granulated sugar, mint extract and water to a boil in a small high-sided saucepan, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-high, and cook until mixture just starts to turn pale gold around edges. Remove from heat, and immediately pour caramel onto a rimmed baking sheet. Working quickly, tilt pan to spread the syrup to the edges of the pan to make a very thin layer. Let cool to harden.
- Make the Frosting: In a small, heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl on top of a saucepan with about an inch of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Heat the mixture, whisking occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar is dissolved.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a light, white meringue and the mixture is cool to the touch. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter a couple of pieces at a time. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the butter is thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is smooth and glossy. The frosting may initially look curdled after adding the butter, but continue beating and it will come together, looking smooth and creamy by the end of the mixing time.
- Add the vanilla extract, salt and coconut milk and whip for another few minutes on medium speed, or until the coconut milk is thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is smooth. Again, the buttercream may look thin and separated, but continue mixing until it comes together. It will be more of a satin-like consistency, versus the thick powdered sugar frostings that are often used.
- Note: Use the frosting within 30 minutes, or transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 1 day, then beat with a mixer (using the paddle attachment) until smooth before using. You can also store the frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, then bring to room temperature and beat with a mixer (using the paddle attachment) for 6 to 8 minutes until smooth before using.
- Assemble the cupcake: Remove the cooled cupcakes from the pan. Use a piping bag to pipe on the frosting. Sprinkle the shredded coconut over the frosting.
- Twist the pan to release and break the hardened syrup in order for it to resemble "ice" shards. Place a shard or two of "ice" in the center of each cupcake.
- (Recipe adapted from Flour)