Pina colada cupcake:
with fresh pineapple Italian meringue buttercream
Yes, the pina colada cupcake. But, before you all get another look at these yummy-licious beauties, I must first inflict some pain on you, because every time I hear or say the words "pina colada," this immediately gets stuck in my head:
Yes, okay, I apologize for that. But, misery loves company. Now that we have a soundtrack (of most arguably one of the worst love songs ever), back to more pleasant things.
This idea of pina colada cupcakes has been floating around in my head for a while prior to execution. The original spark of inspiration, to give credit where credit's due, comes from my friend Toni, who I regard as one of my biggest dessert fans and who happens to be an amazing photographer. For Christmas, Toni got me Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes, promptly opening the book to page 23, pointing, and saying, "I want to make that into a pina colada cake."
A few weeks later (okay, the Christmas gift happened in mid-January), the pina colada cupcake was born (or baked, I guess, would be the more proper word choice)! With a base of coconut cake, taken from page 23 of Rose Levy Beranbaum's book, and a liberal topping of Italian meringue buttercream flavored with freshly made pineapple puree, this cupcake is absolutely heavenly. And I am not kidding. It literally hurt me in the gut to give these cupcakes away to both the people who had ordered them, and, I have to confess, to Toni. I just wanted to keep them all for myself.
The coconut cake recipe is really good and super coconut-y. But what really makes these cupcakes for me, personally, is the fresh pineapple puree in the pineapple buttercream. You absolutely don't want to cut corners here and use canned pineapple. It's just not going to be the same. And fresh pineapple puree is easy to make. All it involves is cooking the pineapple down with sugar and water, draining away the liquid, and whizzing it through the food processor. The resulting puree is so good and light-as-air that I ate most of it fresh out of the food processor. It's better than any applesauce you will ever touch. Don't throw away the pineapple syrup, either! It makes a great base for homemade pineapple soda (just add fizzy water) or cocktails.
The punch of pineapple and coconut flavors in this cupcake linger in your mouth for a long while even after you've finished the cake, making you really, really crave more. I can seriously scarf down about ten of those mini ones in one sitting if I'm not careful. Trust me: make these for your Valentine. Despite not being made of the traditional chocolate, they are sure to impress.
Oh, but a fair word of warning: you'll most definitely want to make an even number of these cupcakes. If you and your Valentine have to fight over one, it's not going to be pretty.
(P.S. On an unrelated topic, a reader kindly brought to my attention yesterday that there was no obvious way to subscribe to this blog's feed located on the homepage--a gross oversight on my part! (Thanks, June, for bringing this to my attention!) I have since remedied this situation, and you'll find links at the top of the side bar -----> that can allow you to subscribe easily via your feed reader of choice (e.g., Google Reader) or via email (Thanks to my Adopt-a-Blogger mentor, Kristen, for pointing me in the right direction for this). So go subscribe!
In other blog-related news, I've started a recipe index page, also located for now on the *new* left sidebar <----, where you can find a list of recipes by category. It's still a work in progress, but hopefully, you'll find it helpful!)
Read on for recipe...
Fresh pineapple puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 medium-large pineapple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar and water without stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.
2. Add the pineapple to the boiling sugar water and return to a complete rolling boil, without stirring.
3. Remove from heat and cover the pot with a lid. Let cool overnight.
4. Once cooled, drain the liquid from the pineapple. Save the syrup for other uses.
5. Put the pineapple in a food processor and process until completely pureed with no chunks. You will need 1/2 cup of this pineapple puree for the buttercream. Save the rest for eating on its own or other uses.
adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes
(Note: I've reduced the amount of sugar from the original recipe and also simplified the steps.)
makes about 36 cupcakes
180 grams egg whites (~6 eggs)
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
1 1/2 tspn coconut extract
400 grams flour
2 Tbspn baking powder (if making a cake instead of cupcakes, decrease this amount to 5 tspn)
1 tspn salt
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
375 grams sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, whisk together egg whites. Add 1/3 cup coconut milk, vanilla extract, and coconut extract. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4. Place butter in a mixer bowl. Beat on low for 2-3 minutes until fluffy.
5. Gradually add sugar to the butter and beat for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.
6. Add 1 cup coconut milk to the butter and sugar mixture. Beat until combined.
7. In three parts, alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients to the batter. Beat thoroughly between each addition.
8. Spoon or pipe batter into cupcake molds, filling the molds about halfway.
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. (For mini-cupcakes, bake 15 minutes.)
10. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.
Pineapple Italian Meringue Buttercream
11 oz. sugar
5 oz. water
150 grams egg whites
65 grams sugar
1 lb. (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup fresh pineapple puree
2 Tbspn rum or tequila, optional
shredded coconut, optional
1. Combine water and 11 oz. sugar in a small pot over medium-high heat. Without stirring, bring to a boil and let cook until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F.
2. Meanwhile, place the egg whites in a mixer bowl. With the whisk attachment, begin whisking the egg whites when the syrup cooking on the stove reaches 220 degrees F. Start whisking on low until the whites begin to foam, then increase speed to high and gradually add the remainder of the sugar. Whip until soft peaks.
3. Once the syrup has reached 240 degrees F (soft ball stage) and the whites have been whipped to soft peaks, gradually pour the syrup in a small stream into the egg whites, whisking on medium high continuously. Be careful not to allow the sugar syrup to fall on the beaters.
4. Continue whisking until the bowl of the mixer is at body temperature and not warm anymore.
5. Slowly begin to add the butter, about a half tablespoon at a time.
6. Once all of the butter is incorporated, continue whisking while adding the pineapple puree and alcohol, if using. If the mixture looks curdled, keep whisking until consistency is restored.
7. Spread or pipe onto cupcakes when complete, top with shredded coconut and sprinkles, if desired.