Monday, May 9, 2016

Coconut Cream Filled Cupcakes (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

I have been dreaming about this day. The day I could recreate a classic childhood treat, a.k.a. Hostess cupcakes, only without the gluten and dairy (and no animal products either!).  Things went nearly without a hitch until I randomly decided to make a chocolate ganache for the topping.  Meanwhile, I have never in my life even attempted to make a chocolate ganache (nor do I even really know what “ganache” is).  I heated up the chocolate in the microwave until it was a nice liquid consistency.  Then I added two tablespoons of COLD coconut milk.   The whole bowl seized up into a stiff clumpy mess.  No worries. I would just cool it all down and then slowly heat it up.  I mean, I’ve made my own chocolate before.  I’ve dealt with the ol’ tempering chocolate phenomenon before.  No luck.  I had used all my chocolate too and didn’t have time to run out to the store just for chocolate.  Luckily, I had made my own white chocolate not too long ago and kept it in the freezer to use someday.  This time I didn’t mess around and slowly heated up the chocolate in the microwave.  I coated each top of my cupcakes about 3-4 times until the tops were a solid white color.  I just so happened to have some leftover strawberry frosting as well (when you bake a lot, keeping leftovers can come in handy on days like these) and added a small flower to each top.  I made these for Easter so the white chocolate with little flowers were right in sync with the holiday.

Unfortunately, all the cupcakes got eaten before I could get any photos.  So the picture above is when I actually had time to go buy some of the darker chocolate. I also had some leftover vanilla frosting which I used to mimic the classic Hostess cupcake.

This cupcake is a conglomeration of three different recipes previously posted on this site.  My chocolate cupcake, coconut whipped cream and vanilla frosting recipes.  Below is the technique in how to make it all come together.

Coconut Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes (gluten free, dairy free, vegan):

This recipe basically requires making the cupcakes first, letting them cool, then cutting the centers out (save the tops of the centers for later) and freezing them for a couple of hours. While waiting for the cupcakes to freeze you can make the coconut whipped cream. Just make sure you have chilled your coconut milk one or two nights before.  Once the coconut whipped cream is made and filled into a pastry bag, place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This will allow the cream to stiffen up a bit.  Then you can make the vanilla frosting.  You really don’t need that much or any at all, but it does give the cupcakes it bit more pizazz and helps counter all that chocolate flavor with sweet vanilla.

Assembling the Cupcakes:
One of the most important parts of assembling the cupcakes is cutting the center of the cupcakes out with this Wilton Treat Corer.  I find that cutting the centers out right after they have cooled from baking is the best time.  Do not discard the centers though because you will want to put the tops back on once you have filled the centers.  Filling the centers is easy.  Just squeeze the pastry bag of whipped coconut cream into the center of each cupcake until you see it come to the top.  Then place one of the tiny cutout tops over the cream.  Once you have filled all the cupcakes and topped them, place them into the freezer for at least 30 minutes.  While you are waiting for the cupcakes to freeze you can make the vanilla frosting.

Once the cupcakes are frozen melt your favorite chocolate for the topping.  I use Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips.  One bag will cover about 12 cupcakes.  I start with half a bag and pour the chocolate chips into a small bowl.  The bowl should be wide enough for you to dip a cupcake into but not too wide.  You need about ¾ of an inch of melted chocolate.  Place the chocolate chips into the microwave and heat on high for 30 seconds.  Remove and stir with a spoon or fork.  Repeat until the chips completely melt into a thick soup.  WARNING: DO NOT OVERHEAT! Overheating the chocolate will cause it to seize up and/or burn! If this does happen you may be able to save it by immediately putting it in the freezer for a few minutes and then trying it again for less time in the microwave. Unless it is burned.

Dip each cupcake top into the chocolate and hold upside down until the chocolate stops dripping off of it.  Then carefully turn it right side up and set it somewhere on a level surface. The chocolate should start cooling right away. Depending on the type of chocolate you use, you should only have to dip each cupcake once.  Some chocolates may be thinner than others and multiple dippings may be required. Make sure to freeze the cupcakes in between each additional dipping.

Wilton Treat Corer