Thursday, April 17, 2014

Coconut Nest Cupcakes

Hi guys! I'm pretty thrilled to be sharing a super cute recipe with you today just in time for Easter- Coconut Nest Cupcakes! Even though they look a bit time consuming, I promise you they are super easy to put together AND a total blast to make. I had way too much fun baking these up on Sunday and then proceeded to have WAY too much fun photographing these cute little guys. On top of all of that, coconut cake is one of my all-time favorite things, so I was a real happy camper.

Now, we've talked about this before, but it's been a while, so I figure it's worth reiterating. I'm a gluten free eater (out of necessity, mind you), and over the last 5 years have struggled with finding a good cake recipe that yielded consistent results. I've had cakes that rose beautifully and then sunk like a pancake as soon as I took them out of the oven, I've had them so crumbly that they practically disintegrate the second you pick it up, and I've had dry, dense, and awful.

I grew up in a family that prided itself on making homemade cakes and never using cake mix, so I've always been reluctant to bake with a mix. After years of frustrating gluten free cake baking, though, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try. So, I tried Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix, and let me tell you, it is a godsend. Perfectly textured cake that always rises, tastes amazing, and is easy to customize.

So... why am I rambling on about this? Well, because I used it to make this recipe! Today's recipe is going to focus more on how to customize an existing recipe, how to make some dreamy coconut frosting, and of course, how to make cupcakes that look like adorable little bird's nests. Let's hop to it! (Ha! Easter pun!)
Coconut Nest Cupcakes


For the cake:
- Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix plus the ingredients stated on the package OR your favorite yellow cake recipe
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3 tsp coconut extract

For the frosting:
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened, and cut into 24 pieces
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp coconut extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 12oz (3 cups) confectioner's sugar

For the decoration:
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- Cadbury Mini Eggs- enough for 3 per cupcake. Let's just say, a whole package should be more than enough, but all of them had been used in some capacity by the time I was done baking. Ahem.

1. Make your cupcake batter according to the recipe, adding the unsweetened shredded coconut and coconut extract before doing the final mixing.

2. Bake your cupcakes according to your recipe and let cool completely.
3. Spread your sweetened shredded coconut onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes in an oven preheated to 350°F. To avoid burning, be sure to stir your coconut at least once during the baking process. You'll know it's done when it's fragrant and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
4. To make the coconut frosting, begin by beating the butter, cream, vanilla extract, coconut extract, and salt together on medium-high (with a handheld or stand mixer) until smooth (1-2 minutes).

5. Lower the speed to medium-low and slowly add the sugar. Beat until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

6. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 3-5 minutes. When you're done, you should have an impossibly creamy, fluffy, dreamy, coconut-y frosting!
7. Load your frosting into a piping bag fitted with number 22 star tip, and pipe frosting onto your cupcakes. If you don't have a piping bag, you can always use a knife, but be sure to build up some height with your frosting so the coconut will have a place to sit.
8. Place 3 of the mini-eggs in the center of each frosted cupcake, pressing them in lightly to secure them.
9. Then, sprinkle your toasted coconut around the perimeter of the eggs to form a little nest! This bit can be kind of messy, so I would recommend doing this over a plate to contain the mess. You may need to lightly press the coconut into the frosting to help it stay in place.
10. Sit back and admire your handiwork!
Seriously, ya'll, how cute are these? I had SO much fun making them, and even more fun photographing them and eating them!

I hope you get to try your hand at making these soon and hope you have a happy Easter!

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  1. Those mini Cadbury eggs are so addictive and these cupcakes look super professional. I love how you used a pink backdrop and pastel dishware against the marble. Awesome job! PS - I'm a horrible baker but I may try these if I'm feeling up to giving another try.

    1. Thank you so much, Marg! I bet you'd rock them out! Also, yes, mini-eggs are SO addictive.

  2. These are so cute!!! And I love the photography, too. I wish we had a good house to do things like this in! I'll just have to get more creative with my food photography.

    1. Thank you so much! Hopefully when you find a new place it'll have killer lighting!

  3. These are adorable! :) The tiny chicks are so cute too. Haha 'hop to it' ... I love puns. :) I may need to make these... -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

    1. Thank you! I'm a ridiculously big fan of puns. I'm glad you're on board with them, too!

  4. These cupcakes are darling and so delicious--and not just "delicious for being gluten-free"! Thank you for sending me home with enough to share with your aunts & grandparents while they were visiting. I wish you could have seen your sweet step-grandpa so happily eating his--with a knife and fork, no less! And those little chicks? Don't even get me started!

    1. Thanks, little mother! I'm so glad everyone liked them and that they could bring everyone some joy during a crummy time!

  5. Ah I love holiday themed recipes! So adorable

  6. These are seriously adorable!! I love how bright and cheery they are, and you just can't go wrong with Cadbury & coconut.

  7. those are cool and look very tasty!

  8. Those cupcakes look so good! I'm bookmarking this page so I can bake a batch for myself sometime!
    Happy Easter! xo

  9. These are super cute! My sister can't take gluten either, and I alawys feel bad when I've baked a cake with gluten (though she never says no haha). Wish they had something like that in Norway!


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