Monday, March 19, 2012

Green Buko Pandan Cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day!

I've been thinking about these for a while.  It was just perfect timing that I was going to a Filipino-American Book Club meeting on St. Patrick's Day.

I realize how cliche it is to have green food-colored items on St. Paddy's Day, but I don't care.  I love the day when everyone gets to wear all this green, the way I wear green almost every day.  Of course, I have to find something festive for this holiday.

Buko pandan is a popular Filipino dessert flavor. Buko is young coconut, and pandan are Screwpine leaves.  Often, the dessert has coconut pieces and green pandan-flavored gelatin.  It might sound strange, but it's quite a sweet dessert.
Luckily, having a car has given me much more access to the Filipino market in Quincy, called "Sure Pinoy."  This is where I was able to find the buko pandan flavoring and macapuno strings for the topping.  But I have had buko pandan flavoring in my possession for perhaps 2 years.  I wasn't joking when I said I had been meaning to make something in this flavor for a while.

Adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe for Golden Layer Cake, from How to Cook Everything.

Yielding 24 Cupcakes:
10 TBS (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus some for the pans and the paper
2 cups cake or all-purpose flour, plus some for the pans
1 ¼ cups sugar
4 eggs or 8 yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 TBS grated or minced orange zest
1 tsp buko pandan extract
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup milk

Whipped Cream Frosting with Macapuno Strings:
2 cups heavy cream
4 TBS confectioners sugar
Sweet Macapuno Strings

1.       Heat the oven to 350F. For cake: Grease the bottom and sides of two 9-inch or three 8-inch layer cake pans; cover the bottom with a circle of wax or parchment paper, butter the paper, and sift flower over the pans; invert and tap to remove the excess flour. For cupcakes: Place cupcake wrappers in a muffin tin.

2.       Use an electric mixer to cream the butter until smooth, then gradually add the sugar. Beat until light in color and fluffy, 3 or 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs or yolks, one at a time, then the vanilla extract. Add buko pandan extract to the milk (Don't freak at the super bright green color!).  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; add to the egg mixture by hand, a little at a time, alternating with the milk. Stir just until smooth.  The cupcakes will not come out super bring green.  If you want it to be more green, just add green food coloring.
Buko pandan extract combid

3.       Turn the batter into the pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. For cupcakes, check them frequently after the first 10 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a rack to finish cooling. 
They're greenish on the inside
4.       For Whipped Cream Frosting: In a chilled bowl, combine the cream & sugar.  Pour a small amount of the juice from the macapuno strings jar into the mixture as well. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. gradually increase the speed to medium-high & continue to beat until the cream holds soft peaks, 2-3 mins.  If you don't have an electric mixer, just use a takes a little bit longer, but it totally works...start slow, like you're beating something, making sure lots of air bubble form.  To get faster, hold the whisk as though you're about to start a fire, and keep doing that until you see he soft peaks.

5.       Top the frosting with a couple of macapuno strings.  For extra festiveness, sprinkle with green sprinkles.  Store at room temperature, covered with wax paper, for up to a day or two; use plastic wrap and it will keep for an extra day or so.
Finished product
I ended up having enough batter to make an extra cupcake.  I was happy this worked out since I wanted to make sure I tasted it before feeding it to anyone else.

I was actually quite surprised at how not super green the cupcakes turned out.  It's extremely subtle when you bite into the cupcake.  The flavor is also subtle, but definitely sweet.  I'm glad I opted for the whipped cream frosting, because it just contributed to the flavors without overpowering it.

If I were to use buttercream frosting, I would probably use the buko pandan flavoring instead of vanilla, or perhaps use less vanilla extract.

It was a great experiment with baking!  It was also the first time I've baked in my new apartment.  I haven't felt much motivation to bake, which I'm sure has been a part of my needing to adjust to all the changes.  After this first time, I am definitely now feeling the urge to bake more.

It's a St. Paddy's Day miracle!

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