Spring is a time when the heartier flavor profiles of fall and winter (namely spices and chocolate) are replaced with lighter desserts more fitting of the season. The spring and summer months typically cause us to crave lighter flavor profiles such as citrus and berry based desserts. We also tend to crave colder items since the days are hotter and we do not want to be warmed up by our sweets in the same way we do during fall and winter. Many turn to ice cream to keep them cool and satisfy a sweet tooth. Despite the many flavor possibilities of ice cream, it can quickly become tiresome.
To keep things simple in the kitchen I try to make desserts that bake up quick, like cookies or cupcakes. Coconut always reminds me of warmer weather but many recipes fail to deliver on intense coconut flavor. The ones that do deliver are often more extensive in preparation than I care to take on this time of year. Therefore, I designed this simplistic recipe with the light flavors and textures of spring that can be whipped up quickly, leaving plenty of hours for some fun in the sun.
Triple Coconut Cupcakes
- 1 box White Cake Mix
- 1 1/3 cups Coconut Milk
- ¼ cup Water
- 3 Egg Whites
- ½ cup Shredded Sweetened Coconut
- 1 (8 oz.) container Frozen Whipped Topping (such as Cool Whip); thawed (or you can substitute an equal amount of homemade whipped cream)
- 1 (3.4 oz.) package Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix (such as Jello Brand)
- ¾ cup Milk
- 1 tsp. Coconut Extract
- ½ cup Shredded Sweetened Coconut; toasted
- To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Spray bottoms of two 12-count cupcake tins with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, coconut milk, water, and egg whites. Using a hand mixer, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the coconut by hand until just combined.
- Pour batter into prepared cupcake tins, filling each cup half full. Bake cupcakes until light golden brown, approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
- For the frosting: In a medium bowl, combine the pudding mix, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Gently fold in the whipped topping/whipped cream until no streaks remain. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator while the cupcakes cool, at least one hour.
- Assembly: Once the cupcakes have cooled completely you can frost the cupcakes. Remove the frosting from the refrigerator and spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake. Sprinkle frosting with toasted coconut and serve. Cupcakes may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS