Saturday, January 28, 2006

The "It's my birthday & I'll bake if I want to!" Chocolate Fudge Coconut Cupcake (& wcb 34)

Actually, it is not yet my birthday- 3 more days. But still, I’ll bake if I want to. In honor of me, and the fact that I had nothing in the fridge but carrots and eggs, I decided to bake a little treat to celebrate all days leading up to my birthday: The most decadent of cupcakes. After all, what is better than filling an empty stomach with sweet chocolate for lunch? Let me think… nothing. (Okay, maybe lobster, or smoked salmon-- caviar or champagne. But hey, I’m a simple girl.)

For me, baking is a real pleasure when there is little food (of sustenance) in the home. Yes, one could make biscuits, perhaps scones, but I prefer the sweeter things in life. As long as I have one egg handy, I rummage through my “baking” cabinet (which contains the sugar, cocoa, flour, etc) to check the quantities at hand, and while my sweet tooth glimmers in the morning sun, I gleefully search for the recipe of my desire.

Every year as my birthday approaches I remember grade school days. It was tradition at my school, as I am sure many others across the nation, maybe the world, that when one’s birthday came to pass cupcakes would be brought to share with the class. I always felt bad for those summer birthday kids who had to celebrate half birthdays. There was also one boy in my class that was born on a leap year. I felt even worse for him—celebrating his true birthday once every four years. Shame onto his parents, children can be cruel.

Every year as the last day of January approached my mother, older brother, and I would plan what kind of cupcake we would make (my older brother is 1 year, 11 months and 30 days older than me, just shy of 2 years). I would help with the baking and older brother and I would complete the decorating. I was not to be one of those sorry kids who carried store-bought cupcakes to my peers. I would uncover the delicacies, sit slightly uncomfortable as Happy Birthday was sung and then stuff the cupcake into my face: chocolate with vanilla frosting, always. When the cupcake was safely in my belly, I was sure to savor the last bit and threw the wrapping in my mouth, chewing on it until I could no longer taste the sweetness, then spit it into my napkin.

I can now resist chewing on the cupcake wrapper, though I will usually pick up any crumbs large enough to taste. This year I decided to make the most luxurious, richest, decadent cupcakes I could produce. I wanted fudge cupcakes. But I glanced at the counter at a pearly bag of coconut and decided I now wanted coconut fudge cupcakes.

Searching through my cookbooks I was at a loss. None of the recipes sounded rich enough. My mind was pooh-poohing cocoa powder, I wanted a recipe that would require a double boiler. I went to the internet to compare recipes. I found a fudge cupcake recipe that sounded almost right at 52 Cupcakes. I modified the recipe to create my own most decadent of birthday delights.

The final creation was perfect: Rich enough to be a meal; dense enough to act as cake; light enough to still be considered a cupcake; full of fragrant aromas; and just downright too swanky to be photographed in a group. These little fellas need their own 5 star accommodations.

Makes 12 cupcakes. Prep times= 20 minutes. Bake time= 15 minutes.
* 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
* 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
* 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate
* ½ cup water
* ½ cup (1 stick) butter, bring to room temperature
* 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
* 1 cup flour
* 1 tsp baking powder
* ½ tsp salt
* ¼ cup milk
* 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
* ½ vanilla bean, slit up the middle.

1) Set the oven rack to the middle setting. Preheat the oven to 400F. Amply butter a standard-size cupcake tin (12 slots). In a double boiler, place water, ½ cup milk (¼ cup is for the frosting) and vanilla bean. As milk is warming, scrape black seeds from the vanilla pod. Bring milk to a simmer, careful not to boil. Remove vanilla pod (dry it and place in sugar bin for vanilla sugar). Remove ¼ cup of the milk from heat and set aside for frosting. Add the unsweetened and semi-sweet chocolate to the double boiler. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
2) In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add yolks, chocolate mixture, and vanilla extract, stir until well combined.
3) In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture gradually to the chocolate-sugar mixture until well combined.
4) Pour into cupcake tins, filling ½ - ¾ of each slot. Sprinkle a light coating of coconut on top of the batter. Push down lightly so coconut sticks to the batter. Bake 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven, extrude from tin, and set aside to cool on cooling rack. While cooling, make the frosting (below).

* 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
* 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate
* 1 Tbl butter
* 1 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
* ¼ cup milk
* 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1) Return the set aside milk with vanilla to the double boiler. Add the chocolate and butter. Warm slowly, stirring, until the chocolate is evenly melted. Remove from heat. Stir in the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract, mix until smooth. You can make the frosting thicker by adding more confectioner’s sugar or thinner by adding more milk.
2) Allow the frosting to cool for about 5 minutes. Pour 1-2 Tbl frosting over the tops of the cupcakes. Top with coconut.

And here, WCB # 34
Big sister Kitty BoJangles found her sun spot on the bed this morning hiding from the torment of her little brother:

The little Whiskey monster, exhausted from beating up his sister, hid from the camera this afternoon:

Thanks to Masak-Masak for hosting this week.

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