The addition of coconut extract and cream of coconut really completes these moist and coconut-forward cupcakes. If you are a lover of coconut, you will love these cupcakes!
In recent months, I’ve found myself consuming a lot of media regarding the current political climate, especially on the topics of race and gender. Most of the books, TV shows, and articles I’m ingesting are either directly or thematically dealing with the state of this country. It can be overwhelming at times, and it’s easy for my naturally cynical brain to go to a place of despair. I’ve been saying for several years that, “This will be the summer that I read the entire Harry Potter series”, but I have yet to do so. Maybe this will be the year? I did read a great book recently that imbued hope – The Common Good by Robert Reich. In a nutshell, it’s about the political and economic shifts that happened in this country in the 1960’s and 1970’s and led us to where we currently are. Although we’ve taken so many steps backwards, the book imparted hope in me that we can get back to where we once were, and even exceed that, by simply tapping into our values and morals.
Throughout my adult life, I’ve thought many times about how difficult it is to work outside of the lucrative corporate sector in the U.S. There isn’t the same level of monetary incentives, and often times it’s much more emotionally and physically exhausting. We live in a culture that values financial success and is blind to the civic achievements of so many other industries that work to push our country forward. There is something deeply wrong with the cultural norms in our modern era. But as a Greek philosopher once said, “Change is the only constant in life.” It’s such a small sentiment, and yet so profound. In dark times, this phrase gives us optimism to keep moving forward and fighting the good fight.
In my therapy session last week, we talked about my need to be emotionally and intellectually stimulated in order to thwart my depression and anxiety. When I start to spiral downward, I have a bad habit of isolating myself instead of taking part in social activities, which help to keep my brain on a somewhat even keel. Therefore, my therapist gave me an assignment: I have to make a list of things to potentially do when my depression starts to set in. In particular, it needs to be things that I have never done before or new places to explore, in an effort to shock my neurotransmitters into sending new signals to my brain. So far, I have 13 ideas on my list.
As far as I am concerned, trying new recipes counts as an item on the aforementioned list. And I have been on a kick lately, making several new recipes every week. It feels really good, and my husband is also reaping the benefits of my extra time in the kitchen. I have had the urge to make cupcakes for a while, so I finally went for it. I can’t remember the last time I used a cake mix, but I had a can of cream of coconut that I needed to use up, and I couldn’t find any coconut cake recipes that called for cream of coconut and didn’t also require a boxed cake mix, so I gave in. The original recipe, adapted from Genius Kitchen, is more of a yellow cupcake, but the addition of coconut extract here really makes it a coconut-forward cupcake. The cream of coconut makes it super moist, but not overly sweet. If you are a lover of coconut, you will love these cupcakes!
Cream of Coconut Cupcakes
- 1 15 ounce box yellow cake mix*
- 1 tsp. coconut extract
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1 8 ounce container sour cream or Greek yogurt
- 12 ounces unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 14 ounce can, cream of coconut (Lopez brand recommended)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees for shiny metal or glass pans and 325 degrees for dark or non stick pans.
- Follow instructions on back of cake mix box to make cupcake batter. Add coconut extract.
- Place liners in cupcake tin . Scoop batter evenly into each cupcake holder, until batter is about halfway up the top.
- Follow baking instructions on box or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (should be around 12-15 minutes). Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan, then place on rack to cool completely before frosting.
- While cupcakes cool, make whipped cream by pouring heavy cream into a mixing bowl. Whisk on high speed until medium peaks form, 1-2 minutes. Add sugar and continue to whisk for 3-4 additional minutes, until stiff peaks form.
- With a spatula, fold in sour cream/yogurt and coconut reserving 1/2 cup of the coconut to toast for garnish.
- When cupcakes are completely cooled, punch holes with toothpick or fork and drizzle the cream of coconut over them.
- Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with reserved toasted coconut.
- Cupcakes can be served immediately, but they are much better if kept in refrigerator for a couple of days if you can stand to wait or at least overnight.