February 21, 2010

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

I was planning on making Mardi Gras themed meringues last week but never got around to it. Nevertheless, I bought Lemon Extract (which is kinda pricey) in preparation. Today, I was hungry and in the mood to bake, and I wanted to make use of my latest baking purchase. I also had a box of Angel Food cake mix and a box of Lemon Cake mix in my pantry. I also always try to keep some coconut on hand for my Chocolate Almond Macaroons, which I will blog about the next time I make them and can photograph them. Lemon coconut it was, a delicious combination. I opted for the Angel Food cake mix, because I was in the mood for its marshmallowey goodness and it would also require the use of the Lemon Extract. I'm incredibly lazy and impatient and should really just invest in a second cupcake pan, so I overfilled my pan and only had a little batter left over; there was no way I was waiting for one batch to cook AND cool before baking a second batch. I was looking for an ovenproof bowl to bake off the rest of my batter, and came across a microwave safe over-sized mug. My aforementioned hunger led me to decide that microwaving the extra batter was a good idea. It wasn't pretty, or golden brown, but I ate it. The end product was very lightly colored (the outer cupcakes browned more than the inner ones) but the coconut gives the crusty parts a perfect chewy crispiness. I don't know if baking them in cupcake cups and not overfilling the pan would maximize crusty surface area, but it would be worth trying.

Sidebar Political Stance: Ok, maybe not really political, but a huge issue of contention in baking is to Cake Mix or not to Cake Mix? I love using Cake Mix in other applications, or just to (stealing Pillsbury's tag line) "Plus it up". I like cake mix cookies, I like taking cake and cookie mixes and adding to them. I also really like cake made from cake mix, but I fully admit that that is not really baking. Cake Mix is just a bunch of ingredients already mixed together for you. Yeah, there's all sorts of preservatives and crap in it; but it's yummy so I'm going to use it.

Sidebar Olympics Stance: I may as well use this platform to rant, let's face it the over/under on my (our? Becca? Bueller?) readership is somewhere around 5. I'm a religious follower of the Olympics and I need to say it: Johnny Weir was ROBBED!!! I'm not saying he was better than Lysacek or even Plushenko. But both his short program AND his free skate were underscored. I don't know if he was being judged on his off-ice personality or what, but there is absolutely no good reason for him to have ended the competition in 6th place. Takahashi FELL, doesn't that lower your score or something? And he just barely beat Oda (the Japanese guy with the most compelling shoelace tie ever). I and the commentators (Scott Hamilton knows his stuff!) were seriously expecting a Bronze Medal (or at least 4th) after Weir's free skate. I'm no expert, but someone please make me less mad about this. I know, I know, the 5 of you are here for the food, here's the recipe:

1 box Angel Food Cake mix
7+ oz coconut flakes
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp lemon extract

Mix together cake mix, water and extract. Use a hand mixer on medium for 1 minute or just mix very well. Fold in coconut. Pour into cupcake liners or an ungreased cupcake pan so each cup is 2/3 to 3/4 full. I filled my ungreased cupcake pan to the top, but I think your product will be prettier if you don't do this. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes, but start checking every 5 minutes or so after about 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when edges are lightly browned and tops are dry.

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