Toasted Almond Coconut Cupcakes

Toasted Almond Coconut Cupcakes

Sweetened flaked coconut can look so ethereal on top of cakes and cupcakes and it provides a pleasantly sweet chewiness as well. Toasted, it takes on a whole new dimension. The coconut becomes nuttier and crunchier and the flakes all brown to different degrees, creating a panoply of toasty colors. Almond extract enhances the coconut flavors, creating a slightly different coconut cupcake than what you might expect. These are best eaten the day they are baked, although they will hold overnight.

Image: Peter Muka

Toasted Almond Coconut Cupcakes
Makes: Makes 18 cupcakes
  • 2, 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Frosting and Assembly:
  • 4½ cups sweetened long-shred coconut (from one 14-ounce bag)
  • 1 batch Italian Meringue Buttercream, 1 tablespoon almond extract added, ready to use
  1. For the Cake: Pour the two cans of coconut milk into a wide saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and reduce to about 2⅓ cups (you will be starting with 3⅓ cups), whisking occasionally. This might take up to 20 minutes. Cool.
  2. Position rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 18 cupcake pan wells with paper liners. Coat the tops of the pans lightly with nonstick spray.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl to combine and aerate; set aside. Whisk together the egg whites and cooled coconut milk in a small bowl; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in almond and vanilla extracts.
  5. Add the flour mixture in four additions, alternating with the egg white/milk mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Divide batter evenly in pans; we liked to use a large ice cream scoop to get the batter into the tins.
  6. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick shows a few moist crumbs. The cake will be tinged with light golden brown around the edges and the top.
  7. Cool pans on racks for about 10 minutes. Unmold onto rack, placing right side up, and cool completely before frosting.
  8. For the Frosting and Assembly: Scatter coconut in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the 350°F oven until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes, but keep an eye on it. Toss it half way through. Some of the coconut shred will be darker than others. That’s what you want. Cool completely on rack.
  9. Make sure buttercream is ready to go. It should be very soft - almost like mayonnaise. Use an icing spatula to apply a generous amount to each cupcake in somewhat of a peaked shape (see image). Place cooled, toasted coconut in a large bowl. Pick up cupcakes one by one and hold over bowl. Scoop up coconut with other hand and gently press generously all over buttercream. Cupcakes are now ready to serve. May be stored overnight at cool room temperature under a cake dome.


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