Some may accuse me of being a little bit un-American, but my favorite pie isn't the apple variety, though it was at one time. My tastes have now moved on to coconut cream (sans meringue, if you please!).
Since I'm also on a cupcake tear, it's only natural that I devise some sort of coconut cream pie cupcakes. That, my friends, is what you've stumbled upon here.
The coconut cake is a fluffy and fantastic vehicle for a pastry cream filling made with coconut milk and a lightly coconut-flavored buttercream frosting. The crowning touch is a smattering of toasted coconut on top. Don't skip that part--toasted coconut has a completely different flavor (and texture, obviously) from the untoasted form.
I could've gone crazy and placed a graham cracker crust in the bottom of each cup, but while the crust is my favorite feature in several types of pie, that's just not the case when it comes to coconut cream. That custardy, creamy filling is the highlight for me. That's not to say that you couldn't sprinkle some graham cracker crumbs on top for a similar effect (along with the toasted coconut--I was serious about not skipping that!); in fact, I think that would be grand.
Coconut Cream Pie Cupcakes
(adapted from Martha)
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
6 ounces (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Coconut Pastry Cream:
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1-2/3 cups coconut milk (1 can)
2/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flaked coconut
Coconut Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2-3 tablespoons milk, room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
First, make your pastry cream so it can chill. Beat the egg yolks with a wire whisk until smooth and lighter in color. Add 1/4 cup sugar and beat well. Set aside. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in the coconut milk and milk until cornstarch is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, continuing to stir, 2 minutes longer. Remove the pan from the heat. While whisking the egg yolks, add a bit of the milk mixture to temper the yolks. Slowly pour the egg yolk and milk mixture to the remaining milk in the pan, stirring continuously. Return the pan to medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil and cook 1 minute longer. Remove from heat. Pour though a sieve to remove any lumps. Stir in the butter and vanilla until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Gently fold in the coconut. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least an hour.
To make the cupcakes, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients (including coconut) in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix remaining wet ingredients in a bowl. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in three additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry, scraping the sides of bowl occasionally. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.
To make the frosting, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few minutes. Add the milk and coconut extract and briefly blend. Add the powdered sugar gradually until the frosting is thick enough to spread easily. If the frosting is too dry, add additional milk until the desired consistency is reached.
To fill the cupcakes, carve out a cone-shaped hole (forget donut holes--I'm marketing cake holes!) and carefully spoon the coconut pastry cream inside. Apply frosting generously to the cupcakes, sprinkle the tops with toasted coconut, and, after giving the components a few minutes to get to know each other, devour.