I love to make cupcakes just take a look at my cupcake gallery. They are easy to make and much less work than making a regular cake. However, out of all of those cupcakes in my gallery, I probably have blogged on only three of them. I suppose I’ve been taking the cupcake for granted. So I am glad a work potluck gave me an opportunity to revisit one of those cupcakes and a chance to blog about it too!
Earlier this week, and ironically, my husband and I had work potlucks. I had a tropical theme for my work potluck. Of course I signed up for dessert and decided to do something easy, cupcakes! Plus my brother bought me this nifty cupcake carrier that also functioned as a cupcake stand that I wanted to use. It stood up great as a stand, holding 12-14 cupcakes.
Sure I had many possibilities, but I always wanted to go back and revisit one–the Strawberry Margarita cupcake. After all, isn’t this a tropical drink? The last time I made some Strawberry Margarita cupcakes had been for my house-warming. I made a vanilla-lime cupcake with strawberry buttercream. It was okay, but wasn’t my favorite.
I recently made a coconut cake from Epicurious that I love, but I am still testing it out with what I can sub in and delete out. Plus I had a couple of cans of coconut cream that I wanted to use up. So I decided to make Strawberry Coconut Margarita Cupcakes: coconut cake with a coconut-lime syrup and strawberry swiss meringue buttercream.
There’s another reason I wanted to make a coconut flavored cupcake. I wanted to try some coconut sugar I bought recently. I originally found this natural sugar substitute in Whole Foods for around $100, okay I’m exaggerating, but seriously a very small bag was around $10. And as much as I was tempted to buy it, I just couldn’t get myself to buy such a small bag for that price. Luckily, my patience paid off at a recent trip to a local Asian supermarket. They had coconut sugar in a much bigger bag for $4! According to the package it is derived from the coconut nectar and is a low glycemic product.
I have a long history with having to follow a low sugar diet, which would take up a book instead of a blog post! But let’s just say my ai son will be reminded when he is a teenager and gives me grief what I had to go through with a daily ritual that involved a syringe and a clear and cloudy liquid that I had to inject myself with while I was pregnant with him! In any case, you will be surprised to hear that I continue to follow a low sugar diet considering my love for baking. But with everything moderation is the key. And baking with less sugar and finding new natural sugars to bake with also helps.
In any case, since I was making a coconut cupcake I decided to substitute half a cup of sugar with the coconut sugar. My typical substitution ratio is 1/2 cup. I feel that anything more or less will alter the taste and sometimes the texture of your baked goods. I found no noticeable different in the sweetness except for a more toasty-nutty flavor and a boost of coconut in the cake, which was just perfect for me. Here is the recipe for the cupcakes, which will yield around 30-32 cupcakes.
Coconut Cupcakes (adapted from Epicurious)
2 3/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 c sugar (or I used 1 1/4 c sugar and 1/2 c of coconut sugar)
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lépez)
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with 30-32 liners.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl to blend.
- Using a mixer, beat sugar, butter and sweetened cream of coconut in large bowl until fluffy
- Beat in eggs and vanilla extract.
- On low-speed, mix in a third of the dry ingredients and then half of the buttermilk. Mix in next third of the dry and remaining of the buttermilk. Mix in the last of the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Using a medium ice cream/cookie scooper, place cake batter in each liner about 2/3 full.
- Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
I had some of the canned cream of coconut left so I decided to make a simple syrup to brush the tops of the cupcakes. Brush the syrup on the cupcakes while they are still warm.
Coconut Lime Syrup
Remaining canned sweetened cream of coconut
1 large lime and the zest
Just a little tequila : )
- Place remaining canned sweetened cream of coconut in a small sauce pan
- Zest lime into the cream of coconut
- Cut lime and squeeze lime juice in the mixture
- Add just a little tequila : )
- Heat just until warm
- With a toothpick, poke holes on the top of each cupcake
- Using a pastry brush, brush the syrup on top of each cupcake
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (adapted from Sweetapolita)
180 g egg whites or equivalent of 6 egg whites
1 c granulated sugar (I actually used 1/2 c of granulated sugar and 1/2 of coconut sugar)
1 1/2 c unsalted butter, or 3 sticks, cubed
1 c strawberry puree (see below for strawberry puree directions)
- Add egg whites and sugar and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140 degrees. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, heat until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot. I use a medium stainless steel bowl over a medium saucepan filled with about an inch of water. Ensure that the water does not boil or else your mixture will quickly turn into scrambled eggs and there is no fixing at that point.
- Take the bowl out of the simmering water and wipe down the sides, be careful the bowl will be hot. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Ensure no water gets into your egg white/sugar mixture.
- Whip on medium-high speed until the mixture is thick and glossy-about 8 minutes. The feel of the bowl should be cool to the touch.
- Turn the mixer to low-speed and add cubed butter one at a time until incorporated.
- Turn the mixer to medium speed and mix until it reaches a silky smooth texture.
- Add strawberry puree and mix until incorporated.
I used a container of fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in half. I place the strawberries in a medium sauce pan with just a little tequila, actually a cup and a half of tequila to be exact : ) I simmered on low heat and used an immersion blender to puree the mixture. Once the puree was reduced to about half, I ended up with almost a cup of puree.
If I have to bake for an event or party, I will usually bake the night before. Which is one of the main reasons I brush the tops of the cupcakes with a syrup. This will ensure the cupcakes will remain moist the next day. I also refrigerate the frosted cupcakes overnight and take them out early the next morning. After a couple of hours, the cupcakes will be at the perfect temperature to serve.
A few notes regarding decorating cupcakes. You’ve probably seen photos of perfectly decorated cupcakes with swirls or whirls, but they all seem flawless. This really comes with practice and more practice. It starts with getting the right decorating tips. No not tips on how to decorate, but tips that you place in a pastry or piping bag. For decorating cupcakes, you will need the larger tips that can be placed directly in the bag. There are tips that are smaller that require the use of a coupler, but these tips are mainly for intricate piping of borders or flowers.
My personal preference when decorating cupcakes are either a large closed-star or French star tip. These Strawberry Coconut Margarita Cupcakes are frosted using a large Wilton French star tip.
And here is the French star tip along with one of the type of pastry/piping bags that I use.
Although I do have the reusable bags, these Wilton 16 ” bags are the disposable ones. The 16″ sized bags are best for piping cupcakes. All you do is snip the end about a half an inch (depending on the size of your tip) and place the tip into the bag. I use a big cup to hold the bag so that I can easily fill the bag with the buttercream. After the bag is filled, push all of the buttercream down to the tip and twist the top of your piping bag.
To pipe a cupcake, firmly hold the bag and start applying pressure until the buttercream comes out of the tip. Do some test piping on a parchment paper. Start from the outside and work your way in, always applying even pressure while piping. When you are almost to the end, ease up on the pressure, stop and quickly remove the tip from the cupcake. It should be one fluid movement.
With the cupcake frosted, a topper adds a nice touch. I will usually top off the cupcake with an ingredient I used or a tie-in to the theme of the event or occasion, like a candy heart for Valentine’s Day. For these Strawberry Coconut Margarita Cupcakes, I used some fresh strawberries, a slice of lime, and some cocktail sugar I found from the liquor isle.
So how does this fair to my last attempt at a Strawberry Margarita Cupcake? It was better. I like the cake and buttercream better, but it could have had just a little MORE tequila : )