Vegan Coconut Cupcakes

Coconut Cupcake
Perhaps this is because I have been reading a lot of Neil Gaiman lately, but I have noticed-thanks to the spring in my step, the glitter of the sun shining through my windows, the fact that the wonderful things in my life exist-that I might just be a fully-converted believer in the magic of serendipity. That we might create beautiful, bountiful things from the collision of odds and ends.

I cracked a filling while visiting my mother in Florida, you see. She made the most heaping, overflowing bowl of popcorn on my first night there, ripe with fresh-tasting sea salt and coconut oil. I almost said no, as it was late and I know better than to gorge before bedtime, but that smell! Wafts of freshly popped, coconut-infused kernels resonated with me, forcing my firm “No!” to transform into a wavering, “Well, it might be fun to try coconut oil…”

My enthusiasm for the stuff was perhaps overzealous, as I almost immediately chomped down too hard and, well, you can figure the rest of that part out. The important thing is, though, that I walked away with a taste for wonderful coconut oil, which I have since learned has multiple other purposes. Its luxurious taste, aroma, and moisturizing properties have all become an important staple in my household since.
Cupcakes

After about a month of coconut oil-discovery, I decided to venture into the baking sphere. It was a fully intuitive endeavor–choosing desiccated coconut over flakes for a finer crumb, substituting coconut oil for butter, going overboard with coconut milk additions. And you better believe that I licked that bowl clean before realizing as an afterthought…this recipe is free of animal products! When I was vegan*, it was always important to me when cooking that something taste delicious because it brought out the flavor of the ingredients, and not because it was trying to be something it wasn’t. This is by no means a criticism; I just knew when I committed to it that I would never be one for fake chicken, fake cheese, or fake anything else.

This recipe reflects that for me, because its creation was entirely natural–I never set out to make it like anything. I just knew what I wanted from a coconut cupcake, and that idea became a reality. They’re adorable, they’re decadent, they’re fluffy, they’re perfectly textured, and they aren’t too sweet. This is a story about a time that something weird happened and I walked out of the situation with a new favorite ingredient. My only request is that you just break off the bottom of the cupcake and place it on top of the frosting to make a sandwich and go with it.

One Year: Nutella-Graham Cracker Milkshakes and Dark Chocolate, Honey, and Sea Salt Drop Biscuits

Coconut Cupcakes
Makes 10-12 cupcakes
COCONUT CUPCAKES:
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
1 tsp white vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups desiccated coconut
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla

COCONUT FROSTING:
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp coconut milk, plus more to thin if necessary
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
desiccated coconut, for decoration

CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Stir vinegar into 1/2 cup coconut milk and set aside. Whisk together flour, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, beat together coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in coconut milk-vinegar mixture. Stir in dry ingredients in halves, alternating with the remaining 3/4 cup of coconut milk. Use a 1/3 cup measure to scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely, then top with coconut frosting.

FROSTING: Beat together coconut oil, vanilla, and coconut milk. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in 1/4 cup measurements until fully incorporated. If too thick, add one more tablespoon of coconut milk if necessary to get desired frosting texture.

ASSEMBLY: Top each cupcake with frosting and a sprinkle of desiccated coconut. To achieve the spiral as pictures, use a pastry bag with a circular tip. Fill the pastry bag with frosting and gently pipe a spiral onto each cupcake, starting around edge of the cupcake and circling inward.

STORAGE: Keep refrigerated in an airtight container. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes ahead of time before serving.

*Please note that my reasons for no longer being vegan or vegetarian are personal and not up for criticism or discussion on this website. Maybe I will share my story sometime, but I also might not, and I appreciate discretion on the matter.

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