This past Thursday was the official last day of the 2012-2013 school year. I know there is no need to explain any teacher’s excitement over the start of summer. I, for one, am probably most excited about not having to wear pants until August. I’m not a huge fan of pants in the first place and it is way too hot to wear them during a Texas summer. You have to understand that I’ve never been required to wear them before- my schedule has always revolved around dance, the gym, or the pool. So yes…that was the highlight of my week.
Of course as soon as one job ended, another began with hosting a baby shower on Friday. Hosting translates to baking. This happen to be a joint shower celebrating two momma-to-bes. Each momma got to pick a flavor and one of those was coconut (You get to find out the other flavor next week!). Now I have to say that I NEVER use cake mixes, I always bake from scratch. But due to my last minute planning combined with the whirlwind of end of year tasks, I ended up with this doctored cake mix recipe from Your Cup of Cake. I’m okay with it because it’s doctored, though I fully intend on developing a non-cake mix version. Also, after talking with several moms at the shower, it seems that they are huge fans of the doctored cake mix recipes because it’s easier and takes less time. These cupcakes are so light and fluffy!! There is a definite coconut flavor, but it doesn’t overtake the whole cake. The chocolate ganache balances out the fruity sweetness of the coconut. Perfect for kicking off summer!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together eggs whites, oil, coconut extract, vanilla extract, coconut milk and sour cream until smooth. Gradually add cake mix and beat until well mixed. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test.
Make one batch of chocolate ganache using vanilla instead of whiskey. Once the cupcakes are cool, dip them in the chocolate completely covering the top of the cupcake.
Coconut Cream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
5 cups powdered sugar
coconut milk to thin out frosting if needed (I had some leftover from the cupcakes)
shredded coconut to garnish
Beat the butter, cream cheese, and coconut extract together. Gradually add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Use the coconut milk to thin out the frosting to reach the consistency you need. Sprinkle the shredded coconut on top of the cupcake.
A lot of people ask me how I don’t eat everything I bake. And they seem surprised when I say I don’t want to weigh 400 pounds. It’s actually surprisingly easy to avoid tasting because I am constantly surrounded by it. However…paleo baking is much harder to resist. There’s a little voice that keeps saying, “It’s okay, it’s paleo!”. Which yes, it is better than the alternative…but eating a whole pan of something is never good no matter what it is!! It was definitely a test of self-control with these blondies because they didn’t even taste paleo. I promise. I’ve had some paleo treats that taste exactly that…paleo. These will make you feel guilty. I made them for my Grandmother for Mother’s Day. She’s diabetic and I’ve been trying to get her to try paleo for awhile…no dice. I wanted to bake her something so I decided to sneak in a paleo treat. I may have neglected to tell her they were paleo (Sorry GM!). But really…these are so good you could fool anyone.
Paleo Almond Butter Blondies
1/2 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup almond butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. coarse salt
1 cup chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life chips. If you think this is pushing the paleo envelope…just leave it out!)
Preheat the oven to 350* and grease an 8X8 pan. Mix the coconut oil, honey, almond butter, eggs, and vanilla together. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into pan and bake for about 22 minutes.
*I did test a few in a cupcake pan and they made cute little mini cupcakes. Bake for about 12-13 minutes if you want mini cupcakes.
I added chocolate ganache on top. I did use heavy cream to make this, so it’s not ENTIRELY paleo…but it’s still gluten free and sugar free (just cream and dark chocolate). You could make my paleo salted caramel frosting if you want a more paleo frosting option. Depends on how much of a cheat you want!
After a lot of talk, I finally did it. Put bacon in a cupcake. I am personally a huge fan of bacon and was really excited about this. Some of my faithful taste testers turned up their nose. Poor life choice on their part, because these were amazing. It started with my new cake book, Vintage Cakes.
My friend was having a baby shower in a few weeks, so I gave her the book and told her to pick out a cake. She chose a burnt sugar cake with maple cream cheese frosting. Good call. Then I asked her how would she feel about bacon being added in and her husband answered, “YES”. I figured I shouldn’t add bacon to the whole cake because some people have this crazy notion that bacon doesn’t belong on cake, but I did intend to make a few cupcakes with the same batter and frosting to try it out.
My other change was to add a chocolate ganache. I felt like using maple cream cheese frosting for filling and the frosting would make it way too sweet, so I decided to layer it with chocolate ganache instead to balance out all that sweet. Another good call.
The name “burnt sugar” honestly doesn’t sound that appetizing to me- but melting sugar is how you get caramel and caramel is one of my baking food groups so I figured this had to be good. The name comes from melting sugar- it melts, there’s smoke, it smells like it’s burning- and you end up with this “burnt” sugar syrup. This syrup was added to the cake batter therefore giving the cake it’s name. I get nervous every time I cook sugar because it’s ALL about timing and pretty easy to mess up, but I managed to get it right the first time with this one. Score.
I followed the Burnt Sugar Cake recipe verbatim from Vintage Cakes, and it turned out completely awesome. The only thing is that it says to pour the batter between three 8″ pans, I only used two. Granted I wanted taller cakes because I knew I wanted to creat four layers. If you want three layers, by all means use three pans. This probably makes a little over 2 dozen cupcakes.
Burnt Sugar Cake
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. hot water
2 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3/4 c. butter, room temperature
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 egg yolks
1 c. whole milk, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350*.
To make the burnt sugar syrup, melt the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. You can swirl the pan but do not stir. When the sugar is melted and amber in color, remove from heat. Slowly and gradually add the hot water. Once all the water has been added, return the pan to medium heat and cook for 5 minutes to reduce the syrup. Stir occasionally to keep sugar from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove the syrup from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a mixer bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and maple syrup. Add in the oil and vanilla. Blend in the egg yolks and eggs one at a time. In a small bowl, combine the burnt sugar syrup and whole milk. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture and syrup mixture (beginning and ending with the flour). Divide batter between cups and bake for 20 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.
Being the multi-tasker that I am, I decided to bake the bacon at the same time as the cupcakes. I laid out several strips of bacon on a baking sheet and slid it on the bottom rack under the cupcakes. Once the cupcakes were cool, I decided to dip the cupcakes into the ganache instead of filling them like I usually do. Mark that under anther good call. Just enough chocolate to add some a little somethin somethin, but still not be the dominating flavor.
From here, pipe on some maple cream cheese frosting. If you’re wondering how to make that…make cream cheese frosting and add some maple. But be careful- due to the maple and the cream cheese this frosting can be difficult to frost with because it doesn’t hold it’s shape. That just means it’s more delicious. Crumble your bacon into tiny pieces and sprinkle them on top. Perfect sweet and salty cupcake!!
People often ask me what my most popular flavors are. Red velvet is hands down one of my most requested flavors. Don’t get me wrong- I enjoy red velvet as much as the next person, but it surprises me how many people say it’s their favorite. It’s not vanilla, but there’s not enough cocoa in it to consider it chocolate. It’s red because of flavorless colored gel. Back in the day, red velvet got it’s name from a chemical reaction between the buttermilk and vinegar which brought out the red from the cocoa. During World War II, cooks used beets (due to rations) to enhance the color. Hello history lesson. But regardless, people keep coming back for the red velvet.
At some point I had the notion to add a chocolate ganache filling to my red velvet cupcakes. People freaked out. I mean really freaked out. Like they would take a bite and then tell me they would need a moment with the cupcake. I’ve heard a lot of inappropriate responses too, which just makes me laugh. It’s funny what people will say when eating a cupcake. But where I was going with this is that I can’t make a plain red velvet anymore. People have heard about “this cupcake” and they want the “magical center”, that “bite of heaven”. People have actually used those words when ordering cupcakes.
My friend requested red velvet cupcakes for her birthday. We happen to have a lot of jars on hand for homemade habanero jelly, so I decided to try the whole cupcake in a jar thing. (Note: there were no habaneros near the cupcakes!) Honestly, I think that’s an awesome gift. I went to a wedding where the favor was a cupcake in a jar, and I may or may not have ate the whole thing on the way home. So I decided to make one for the birthday girl. I cut a cupcake in half, then put in one layer, layered some chocolate ganache and cream cheese frosting on next, and then repeated. Two halves didn’t quite fill the jar, so I used another half to finish it off.
I guarantee you NO ONE would complain if you gave them a cupcake in a jar. Especially if it’s red velvet. But let’s be honest…people are generally happy with whatever flavor you give them.