I've been dying to try this recipe ever since I first laid eyes on it, and I finally got a chance to make it this weekend. I'm so glad I did, because it did NOT disappoint :)
The occasion was actually for our friend's "Sushi Fest" dinner party, where we were to bring an Asian-themed dessert. I immediately thought of this recipe...coconut is totally Asian, right?? To amp up the "orientalness" of this dessert, I served it with green tea ice cream which surprisingly turned out to be a great idea! Who knew coconut and matcha green tea worked so well together?
The cupcake itself exceeded my expectations. The secret to its success? Reduced coconut milk which yields an incredibly moist, slightly denser cupcake. I was afraid the coconut flavor would be too intense/overwhelming for my tastes, but it was actually really subtle. I also loved seeing little brown specks of vanilla scattered throughout the cake. I hardly ever use real vanilla beans when baking (they're expensive and vanilla extract usually does the trick), so it's always exciting when I use them and can actually see little specks of them in the final product! :P
Anyway, AC likes these better than my beloved red velvet cupcakes. I haven't decided which one takes the cake yet, but both are definitely up there!
Vanilla Bean-Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting
Bon Appetit, April 2009
2 13-14 oz cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 C all purpose flour
2 1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
3/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 C sugar
3 large eggs
Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 t vanilla extract)
1 C reduced coconut milk, room temperature
1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
2 C powdered sugar
1/3 C reduced coconut milk, room temperature
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 C sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)
For reduced coconut milk:
Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to mediumlow; boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl.
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line eighteen 1/3-cup muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in seeds from vanilla bean and remaining egg. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake cupcakes until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Transfer cupcakes in pans to rack; cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on rack.
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, seeds from vanilla bean, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to mediumhigh and beat until light and fluffy.