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So, I think it is safe to say: I won’t be winning any cake decorating contests anytime soon.

Yes folks, the very same hands that are too stiff to properly reach an octave on a piano, and too clumsy to accurately draw a stick figure, are apparently too undexterous to elegantly and daintily make what promised to be a simple and easy-to-decorate recipe for the Barefoot Contessa’s Coconut Cupcakes.

I blame it on my freakishly small hands. Like, so small that I have to buy little girl’s gloves. So small, that they’ve been referred to as “Elf Hands”. So small, that if you met me, you would want to compare hands palm to palm, and you’d instantly feel like a superhuman because of your ability to crush my tiny hand within yours.

But I digress…

Let’s talk about everything I did wrong when making these cupcakes. I overfilled the muffin cups, resulting in cake overflowing down one side of each (yes, there are still cups on the cupcakes in these pictures.) I globbed the icing on in a way that tore up bits of cake as I frosted (even though I had waited for the cake to cool.) I made them using two different sized muffin tins, resulting in half the batch having odd mushroom tops, and the other half staying flat.

But you know what? They were still freakishly delicious.


Ina Garten’s Coconut Cupcakes
Makes 12 – 16 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 7-ounce package flaked sweetened coconut, divided

Cream Cheese Icing

Do not consider skipping the sifting of the powdered sugar or you will have unattractive white lumps in your icing.

2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Remaining coconut

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and almond extract until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in as much of the remaining sugar as needed to reach a comfortable spreading consistency.

Line 16 muffin cups with paper baking cups, and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and set oven racks at top and lower middle levels.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer speed to low, and add the eggs one at a time, beating 1 minute after each. Beat in the vanilla and almond extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat again briefly.

Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately to the butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Fold in only 1 1/3 cups of the coconut.

Fill each muffin cup almost full with batter. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 11 to 14 minutes on the top and lower-middle racks of oven, then reverse the positions of the two cupcake pans (putting the one from the top on the lower middle rack and vice versa), and bake another 11 to 14 minutes or until the cupcake tops are golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely, and then top them with cream cheese icing. Spread each cooled cupcake with the cream cheese icing and then top with the remaining coconut. An easy way to do this is to turn each iced cupcake upside-down and press gently into the coconut to make it adhere.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. If you want to freeze these, store them unfrosted in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.

To serve unfrosted cupcakes that have been frozen, allow to thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving, then ice and serve them. Makes about 16 cupcakes.