[Fresh coconut cupcakes with ricotta frosting]

It all started with the crazy cool idea of making my own coconut extract. Something I had been dreaming about for years without thinking I would actually one day get rid of the horrid fake-tasting stuff my cupboard is full of (I tend to stock it every time I visit Jane Asher’s shop because it tends to disappear quite quickly).

Now it’s done. Delicious coconut extract, which also happens to make delicious vodka shots.

Trust me (however, I’m strongly against drinking while baking, dangerous things can happen in one tiny kitchen).

The next step was quite obviously the coconut cupcake. A delicate-crumbed cake, subtly flavoured with our extract, the water from the coconut itself, and some homemade coconut milk. Smooth ricotta as a frosting. And a pile of fluffy grated fresh coconut.

Of course, since I intended to serve this for breakfast, I had a light hand on the frosting; but if you’re feeling sweeter than me, please make an Italian meringue and pile it on your little cupcakes.
I hope a bite at those will encourage you to participate to September’s Sugar High Friday. Please. Pretty please.

Fresh coconut cupcakes with ricotta frosting
Adapted from Alton Brown.

I love this cake. The crumb is so fine it’s divine. It will melt in your mouth as it hits your tongue.
Of course, it will taste better if you make your own extract, however, if you don’t have the time or will, I recommend you just skip it. No fake stuff, please.

You can also turn this into a layer cake, as Alton does, but I think cupcakes work nicely here, because you get an even part of caramelised crust and soft inner, all at the same time.

Since we’re going to work with fresh coconut here, I think it’s time I share my secret about how to open a coconut when you’re a girl.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the coconut onto a folded towel set down in a large bowl. Using a screwdriver, hammer holes into the eyes of the coconut. Turn the coconut upside down over a container and drain the water from the coconut. Store the water in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Place the coconut onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until cracked. Place the pieces into a bowl of iced water and when cool enough to handle, separate the flesh from the husk. Wrap as is, or grate it; and store in the fridge.

Fresh coconut cupcakes with ricotta frosting

makes 12 small cupcakes, or 9 regular ones

for the coconut extract
75g freshly grated coconut
100g vodka

Place the grated coconut into a glass jar with lid and pour the vodka over it. Seal and shake to combine. Place in a cool dark place for 5 to 7 days, shaking to combine every day. Strain the coconut and discard. Return the vodka to a clean flask and store in a cool place for up to a year.

for the coconut milk
75g freshly grated coconut
125g boiling water

Place the grated coconut into a small mixing bowl and pour over the boiling water. Stir to combine. Cover tightly and allow to sit for one hour. Transfer the mixture to the carafe of a blender and process for one minute.
Place a tea towel over a mixing bowl and carefully pour the mixture into it. Gather up the edges and squeeze until all of the liquid has been removed. Discard the coconut.

for the cupcakes
200g flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
100g butter, at room temperature
230g sugar
2 egg whites
2 tbsp coconut water
125g coconut milk
1/2 tsp coconut extract

Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately one minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over two minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture.
Switch the paddle attachment to the whisk, and mix in the egg whites on high speed, until thick and increased in volume.
Using a wooden spoon, incorporate the flour mixture alternately with the coconut milk and extract and water, in three batches; ending with the milk mixture.
Scoop the batter into paper cups and bake for 25 minutes or until the cake is light golden in colour and firm to the touch.
Transfer to a cooling rack. Once the cakes have cooled completely, spray with the remaining coconut water.

for the frosting
ricotta
freshly grated coconut

Frost each cupcake using ricotta, then sprinkle with grated coconut.

And don’t forget. Sugar High Friday is running until the 26th of September. So put your aprons on. Get your wooden spoon and whisk. And make cupcakes!