We spent twelve hours at the Mardi Gras parades yesterday, no small feat when young children are involved. My son ended up passing out in my lap during the final parade, waking only to mumble the occasional "Don't miss, mom" as he envisioned me still catching throws for him (he's become a true New Orleanian).
Twelve hours at the parades requires frequent fortification so there's always plenty of food involved. We had BLTs, fried chicken, and lots of Zapp's potato chips in various flavors. And while you'd expect that we'd have king cake, we admittedly broke with tradition and I made these coconut cupcakes instead. They're insanely good and they stay fresh for several days, which is a nice bonus.
I also used this recipe as an opportunity to try out a baking ingredient that I found at King Arthur Flour, a gluten free cake enhancer. It's supposed to make your baked goods lighter, moister, and keep them fresh longer. This cupcake is already wonderfully moist but I wanted to see if I could detect a difference. It turns out that the cake enhancer did lighten up the crumb of the cupcake just a bit and it was even moister on the third day than it was on the second day. So if you have a cake recipe that you love, but tends to dry out too quickly, this might be a good product for you.
Without further ado, here's the cupcake recipe, adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. And then I've got more parades to prepare for. Happy Lundi Gras!
(makes 24 cupcakes)
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
5 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cake enhancer (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cake enhancer (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of the coconut.
4. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each cup to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the edges of the cupcake begin to brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.
Cream Cheese Frosting
11 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.