We’ve been busy of late. Three weeks ago, my wife and I welcomed another addition to our family — our daughter, Lily. She was born a healthy 8 lbs and 1 oz, and since then has packed on the ounces to weigh nearly 10 lbs. Both mother and daughter have recovered nicely and look fabulous. I’m still shocked by how wonderfully they both are doing, and it isn’t just a lack of sleep leading me to say this.
To celebrate, as we did with the birth of her older brother Jack, I made Lily a cupcake. While Jack’s cupcake is all Meyer lemons, I embraced chocolate for our daughter. But I couldn’t deviate too much. Lily and Jack are siblings… so their cupcakes should have something in common — cream cheese frosting.
OK, I’m rationalizing. The truth is that I love cream cheese frosting, and I pretty much think it kicks most frostings’ butt. In addition, it’s infinitely easier to make than buttercream frosting. Cream together a stick of butter, an 8 oz. box of cream cheese, and a 1lb. box of powdered sugar, and you are 90% done. Cream cheese frosting might not have the fluffiness factor and the mouth smoothness of buttercream, but it has got a richness and flavor that just makes me happy.
To raise it up a level, I also added a personal favorite — coconut. I know we’ve all seen mounds of fresh coconut cupcakes, and I admit I was worried that people would think I was oh-so derivative and helping the cupcake craze jump the shark even faster. But, at the end of the day, I like it. So fashion be damned. This is for my little girl!
Yield: 1 dozen
1 cup (200g) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (180g) sugar
¼ cup (30g) cocoa powder
1 stick unsalted butter(115g)
2 oz. (60g) semi-sweet chocolate (melted)
½ cup (175mL) buttermilk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Allow the buttermilk, butter and eggs to warm up to room temperature.
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder.
4. Add sugar, salt and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Cream for 5 to 6 minutes on high, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom at least twice. When done, the butter should be smooth, light in color and fluffy.
5. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl then add the whole egg while the mixer is on medium speed. Once the egg is fully integrated add the yolk and then scrape again.
6. Add the melted semi-sweet chocolate and mix on medium until integrated.
7. With the mixer on low add the dry sifted ingredients and buttermilk in alternating installments as follows: dry, buttermilk, dry, buttermilk, dry. Scrape down the sides at least once.
8. Scoop out into muffin tins lined with paper cups, and place in oven for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick almost comes out clean. Let cool completely then frost.
Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields: Approx. 1 quart
1 lb. powdered sugar (room temperature)
1 stick butter (room temperature)
8 oz. cream cheese (1 block)
2 tsp. coconut extract
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
2 cup fancy shredded coconut (topping)
1. Using a hand or stand mixer, add the cream cheese and butter to a bowl. Whip at high speed until fluffy and well integrated, approximately 4 minutes.
2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the powdered sugar and salt. To start, mix on low until most of the powdered sugar is integrated and then mix on high for about 1 minute.
3. Add the coconut and vanilla extracts then whip one last time. Taste to make sure flavor is correct. Add up to one more teaspoon of coconut to get clear coconut flavor correct.
4. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Keeps well covered for over a week. If the frosting is stiff, simply let warm up to room temperature or for quicker recovery simply beat for about 30 seconds on high with your mixer.
5. Frost cupcakes and then top with a generous amount of coconut. Coconut adds both flavor and hides any flaws in frosting.
6. Tip: When frosting using just a spatula or palate knife, add all the frosting you are going to need in one dollop. Then place the spatula at an angle and turn the cupcake without lifting your knife. Scrape the excess off your spatula. The key is to add more frosting than you think at the start and not to lift your knife. If you do, you’ll start pulling up cake and it won’t be smooth.