Saturday, 22 October 2011

Cupcakes A to Z: Almond Joy Cupcakes

I might have had an Almond Joy bar at some point in my life.  I know for sure I've had a Bounty Bar.  And we all know that I love almond and coconut.  And together?  Whew.  It could be the best day ever.

So - I found two different versions of Almond Joy Cupcakes out there in the big bad world of the Internet.  I'm going to use the Almond Cupcake recipe that won out over all the others a couple of weeks ago as the base for both cupcakes.  Shelly over at Cookies and Cups has a chocolate cupcake with coconut mixed in, but I wanted kind of a layer effect.

The first version goes like this: almond cupcake, chocolate icing, topped with toasted coconut.

The second version goes like this: almond cupcake, coconut buttercream, topped with a chocolate coating.


I started out by baking up a fresh half-batch of almond cupcakes and letting them cool.  I think I may have been somewhat excessive with the batter because I only got 9 cupcakes and I really should have gotten 12.  *shrug*

The First Version:
This is another case of not being able to get things in Canada.  The recipe calls for Ghirardelli baking chocolate.  I can't get it here.  Well - at least I couldn't find it in my grocery store.  And I didn't feel like checking other stores just in case.  I figured I'd just use the semi-sweet chocolate that I already have in my pantry, and then I realized upon closer inspection of the recipe that I should be using unsweetened chocolate.  Oh well.  No biggie.

It's an interesting recipe for frosting.  You make it in a double boiler.  No mixer, no nothing.  Just heat and stir.  And then cool to room temperature.

The most irritating part was grating the chocolate.  And it got EVERYWHERE! 

So I made the "frosting", and I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Now I kinda wish I'd made it before I made the cupcakes.  Grrr.

And it was so runny I thought it would never firm up.  The recipe says "let it cool to room temperature before frosting cupcakes".  FROSTING.  This gives me the impression that something magical will happen and the concoction will cool and turn into a spreadable frosting. 

It does not.

So I waited for almost two hours for it to cool and firm up.  And then I stuck it in the fridge to see if that would help.  A half an hour later I thought - "oh joy!  It looks good!".  And the chocolate proceeded to slide off the cupcakes.  So I scraped off what I could and put the chocolate back in the fridge.

Then it came to me.  Maybe if I whip the chocolate it will turn into a frosting?  And by this point I had cleaned everything up (and disposed of the leftover coconut buttercream and didn't want four naked cupcakes feeling left out) so I whipped out my hand mixer, the chocolate and went to work.  Almost immediately, the chocolate lightened in color and stiffened up! 

Now, this part was not in the instructions, so I don't know if it was right or wrong - but it worked, so that works for me.  The power of improvisation.  And I doubt that the Frosting Police are lurking outside my door waiting to issue me some kind of ticket or whatever.

And I'm clearly no expert.  So it's entirely possible that it's simply my lack of knowledge that prevented the frosting from working.  Who knows, who cares.

Then I dunked the cupcakes into some toasted coconut and VOILA.  Almond Joy Cupcakes!

While I was waiting for the chocolate to cool, and because I like to multi-task, I started on the coconut buttercream.

This buttercream has both butter and shortening in it.  I'm not particularly crazy about shortening, but I do think I read somewhere that shortening is used to get frostings to hold their shape.  But really - I have no idea and I might have gotten away with all butter.

After I had made the buttercream to the recipe instructions, I gave it a taste and decided that it really needed more coconut extract.  I added the extract 1/4 teaspoon at a time until I got the flavour that I wanted.  I only ended up adding 1/2 a teaspoon extra.  Now keep in mind that I halved this recipe and if I was making a full recipe I would have added one whole teaspoon.

It's actually a really nice and creamy buttercream!  So, keep your judgements aside about shortening - and really, there wasn't THAT much in there.

Moving on.  What I did next was pipe the buttercream on top of the cupcake (I used a Wilton 1A tip, but a zippie bag with a corner cut off would work just as well), and then stuck those bad boys in the freezer for 5 minutes. 

While the cupcakes were in the freezer, I melted the milk chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a bowl and then poured it into a glass.  I actually should have used something different because those cupcakes BARELY fit in the glass.  After I pulled the cupcakes out of the freezer, I gave them a dunk in the melted chocolate and put the whole lot in the fridge to set the chocolate and VOILA - Almond Joy Cupcakes part deux.

Hi.  This is a cup of chocolate.  You could drink it.  It would be yummy.

I have to confess, I had SO MUCH FUN dunking those cupcakes!  I think it was the funnest part of my day!  (And YES, funnest is a word.  I'm going to check the dictionary and prove it.  But it's a word in my head, so it's a word.)

I kind of wish that I'd piped the buttercream a little closer to the edges of the cupcake, but gosh don't they look CUTE!!!

And, yet again, I have to apologize about the lack of pictures.  I just get such bad tunnel vision, that I forget to grab my camera, especially when I have to improvise (read: the chocolate frosting).

And the verdict..... 

Version 1 - was surprisingly delicious!  The toasted coconut was really obvious, but I wish the chocolate frosting had a little more body.  What I mean is that I wish it was a little firmer. 

Version 2 - I actually think it could have used more coconut extract in the buttercream, because the almond flavour was so distinct it sort of masked the coconut.  Add in the chocolate and you couldn't REALLY taste to coconut.  But Oh Yum anyway.

For me it's hard to choose which way I'd make them for myself.  I thought for sure Version 2 would be the clear choice, and perhaps it would be if I upped the coconut flavour in the buttercream - some more.

But in the end - neither one is a loser and neither one is a clear winner.

So enjoy your Almond Joy cupcakes however you choose!

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.

I'm only posting the recipes and instructions for the frostings.  If you'd like the recipe for the cupcake, you can find it under Cupcakes A to Z: Almond Cupcakes.

Version 1
This is the original recipe, I halved the amounts below.
2 2/3 cups icing sugar
6 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups shaved Ghirardelli baking chocolate (unsweetend 100% cacao)
1 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut
  1. Soften the butter in the microwave for about 40 seconds and mix in the icing sugar.  Add the vanilla and cream.  Shave the chocolate directly into the butter/sugar mixture, stirring to combine.  Test the flavour as you go.  Add more chocolate if you'd like.
  2. Move the frosting to a heat proof bowl and place over a saucepan with about 2 inches of water in the bottom, over medium heat.  You want to make sure the frosting is smooth and creamy without direct heat from the flame.  It won't take long (about 5 minutes).  Continue to test and add more chocolate or cream if desired.
  3. Let cool completely to room temperature before frosting the cupcakes.
  4. In a non-stick frying pan, heat up shredded coconut on low-medium heat, stirring constantly until the coconut begins to brown.  Immediately take the pan off the heat and continue stirring.
  5. Dip the frosted cupcakes in the toasted coconut.
Version 2
I halved this recipe and added more coconut extract
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
8 cups sifted icing sugar
1/2 - 3/4 cup light coconut milk
1/2 tsp coconut extract
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil or vegetable shortening
24 raw almonds (I skipped this part because I made the base the "almond" part)
  1. In mixer, beat together butter and shortening until smooth.  About three minutes.
  2. On low speed, stir in the icing sugar.
  3. Pour in the coconut milk and coconut extract and beat until combined.  About 45 seconds.
  4. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes.
  5. Put the frosted cupcakes into the freezer for 5 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips and vegetable oil (or shortening) in a double boiler or microwave.  If using the microwave, heat for 1 minute on 50% power, then stir.  Repeat in 30 second increments (on 50% power) stirring after each until melted.
  7. Transfer the melted chocolate into a wide mouthed mug or a small deep bowl.  The chocolate needs to be deep enough to dunk the entire top of the cupcake.
  8. Remove cupcakes from freezer and dunk each into the chocolate.
  9. After all cupcakes have been dunked, put the cupcakes into the refrigerator to set the chocolate.  This will take about 15 minutes.
Version 1: Peter Andrew Ryan
Version 2: Cookies and Cups

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