Coconut, Curry, Basil and Cupcakes

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I’ve always been fascinated by India.  No doubt part of this is because it is an ancient nation with so much history and culture that is quite beautiful.  I’ve enjoyed exploring India through various media and hopefully someday I will be able to visit.  For now, I will just provide a nod with baked goods.

I was thinking last week about what a cupcake inspired by Indian cuisine would contain.  Curry was an obvious flavor.  But it has such a distinct flavor I wanted to add something to make it lighter and decided upon coconut.  Coconut curry is already a normal dish, so why couldn’t it work as a cupcake!?

The one tragic side of my decision to make this cupcake cake is that I can’t actually eat Indian food, the smell of the spices make me nauseous, especially the smell of curry.  So I spent a bit of time trying to get accustomed to the scent and then finally just decided to hold my breath. [I also went with a Thai curry paste, which surprisingly didn’t bother me as much!]

It was a risk well worth it!  These cupcakes are wonderful.  The coconut plays well with the curry.  It is not an overly sweet cupcake either, which is nice.  I decided to make a chocolate basil buttercream for the icing.  It provides a nice cleansing herbaceous mix to the curry.  So if you have fears the spiciness of curry will kick you, the chocolate basil buttercream rectifies said situation.

You are probably also thinking, basil buttercream?  I know, it sounds weird.  But seriously, it is amazing.  I have never loved a buttercream more than this one.  I don’t actually like icing, I find it generally overpowering for most baked goods.  But this one?  I’m tempted to eat it without a cake to put it on.  The buttercream is more invovled than a regular recipe, so you will want to start making it before you start the cupcakes and then finish it while the cupcakes are cooling.

So how does one make this dessert?

Whatcha’ll need for the cupcakes:

½ cup – coconut flakes
1 ¾ cup – flour
1 ½ tsp – baking powder
½ tsp – salt
¾ cup – butter, softened
½ cup – sugar
½ cup – brown sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup – coconut milk
1 tsp – curry
½ tsp – thai red curry paste
½ tsp – paprika

Mix it together:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, brown sugar, curry powder, curry paste and paprika together.  Cut butter into pieces and mix in to flour mixture using a beater.  Beat in eggs.  Beat in coconut milk.  Mix in coconut flakes.  Spoon into cupcake tray.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  (Makes 24 cupcakes)

Now on to the chocolate basil buttercream!

Exactitudes for Happiness:

1 ½ cups – coconut milk
⅓ cup – heavy cream
1 cup – fresh basil leaves, packed
1 ½ cups – sugar
⅓ cup – flour
1 ½ cups – butter, soft and cut in pieces
1 tsp – pure vanilla extract
¼ cup – cocoa powder

Blending Together for Splendor:

Combine milk, heavy cream and basil in a saucepan.  Heat until simmering, then remove from heat.  Let cool and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Remove from refrigerator.   Remove the basil leaves from the milk mixture, squeezing the leaves to add any excess juice to milk mixture before discarding basil leaves.

In a saucepan, whisk together the flour and sugar.  Add the basil milk mixture and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened (around 10 minutes).

Transfer mixture to a bowl — if you have  stand mixture this process will be much easier, if not, a bowl and beater will work.  Beat mixture on high until cool (around 10 minutes).  Reduce speed to low and add butter, one piece at a time.  Mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).

Add the vanilla and cocoa powder and continue mixing for 1-2 minutes.  If the mixtures seems too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill and beat again until is the correct consistency.

Top cupcakes with frosting and add a bit of coconut flakes as garnish.

Enjoy!

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