There is now a small smudge of coconut milk or maybe buttercream icing in the middle of the Hummingbird recipe – over the word “combined”. I am glad: this makes it a properly used cookbook. More satisfying somehow than working from a screen, trying to scroll down with one elbow, hands covered in butter.
In fact, normal cupcakes are often too sweet for me with their thick, white icing hats. According to the elegant pictures (cream on cream tones) there should be about as much icing as cake. Sweet buttery coconut icing to marinate your teeth in.
I liked the soft coconut crumb of the cake. I liked the surprise of the pineapple at the bottom. But I wanted a little more sophistication and I wanted to find a use for my tamarind seeds languishing among the cumin and honey in my cupboard.
Again with the makeshift tamarind caramel: a big chunk of the sticky sour fruit in a saucepan with a drift of brown sugar and a little water. Cooked until bubbling, sizzling. A spoonful of the bitter caramel, then a few pineapple chunks and then the coconut cupcake.
(To make them extra fluffy, I beat the egg white separately and added it last. Works for almost any cake you want to make lighter. And because the fridge still boasted an avocado the size of a baby’s head, I swapped the butter for the avo. Remarkably good.)
When the tops of the cupcakes are just turning golden-brown, pull them out of the oven. Turn them upside-down, scoop out any reluctant caramel and call them funny tarte tatins. Taste the sweet fruit, smooth coconut and sharp sharp bite from the tamarinds.
A grown-up cupcake.
Coconut and Pineapple Cupcakes
(from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook)
makes 12 small cakes
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
40g butter, room temperature (or 40g avocado, well mashed)
120ml coconut milk
a tin of pineapple rings / 200g fresh pineapple
For the tamarind caramel:
In a small saucepan, heat the tamarinds, sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved and you have a sticky mess. Try to prise the seeds away from the caramel sauce. (You may need a bigger quantity depending on how easy it is to extract the sauce.)
Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease some cupcake trays or line them with cases. Chop the pineapple into small chunks.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Rub in the butter with your hands – or using an electric mixer. Add the coconut milk and egg and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until firm and stiff. Check by holding the bowl upside down. Fold it into the batter taking care not to lose the whipped air.
Scoop a teaspoon of tamaring caramel into each cupcake case, add a few chunks of pineapple – enough to cover the bottom – and top with a dollop of cake mixture.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden, jsut starting to go brown around the edges. Gently press the top of a cupcake and it should spring back.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes or so then remove them from the trays. Turn them upside and top with any caramel left behind.
Best eaten warm!
For the original coconut icing:
250g icing sugar
80g butter, room temperature
25ml coconut milk
For a sweet traditional cupcake, skip the tamarinds and top with coconut buttercream once cool. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, add coconut milk and keep beating until light and fluffy. Pile on top of cupcakes.