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Italian cream cupcakes with coconut pastry cream filling and fluffy mascarpone frosting

Posted on Sep 1, 2011

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I’m speechless, and I don’t say that lightly – just ask my son.  We recently had a bet that I could be silent for 1 hour – busted in the first 2 minutes.  Hmmm, I wonder where he gets his gift of gab from.   It’s these Italian cream cupcakes; amazing how a few simple ingredients magically combine to create such a creamy, luscious dessert.  They’re delightfully moist all by their lonesome, but they’re divine when filled with a coconut pastry cream, and a swirl of fluffy mascarpone frosting on top.  They’re a bit of heaven in every bite.  Even if you’re not a coconut fanatic, you’ll love these, I promise.

Pin ItJumbo Italian Cream Cupcakes with coconut pastry cream filling and mascarpone.

For the Pastry Cream (prepare this the day before you plan to fill cupcakes so it has time to chill)

1 1/4 cups whole milk (organic preferred)
1/2 vanilla bean
3 large egg yolks (organic, free range preferred)
pinch salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon amaretto (optional)
2 cups toasted sweetened coconut – 1 cup is for the pastry cream, reserve 1 cup for the cupcakes

Split vanilla bean lengthwise in half, scrape seeds out and add both seeds and bean to the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Heat just until it starts to simmer (tiny bubbles begin to form around the edges). Remove the milk from the heat, cover and let steep for about 5 minutes.

Spread coconut out on a parchment lined cookie sheet and toast very lightly in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, just until most of it is very slightly golden.  Remove from the oven and cool.

Whisk egg yolks, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl until well blended and smooth.

Sift together the flour and corn starch.  Then whisk flour and cornstarch into the egg mixture until smooth.

Remove vanilla bean from the milk.  While whisking constantly, slowly add a small amount (about 1/2 cup) of hot milk to the egg mixture until it is combined.  Whisking constantly, add the egg mixture back into the pan of milk.  Return the pan to medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture starts to boil.  Continue to whisk for another 30-60 seconds until it thickens.  Remove pan from the heat, and immediately stir in amaretto and toasted coconut.   Pour mixture into a small bowl, and press a piece of plastic wrap lightly onto surface of custard to prevent a skin from forming.  Let cool to room temperature, then cover the bowl with another piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.  Can be prepared 2 days ahead.  You should prepare the filling one day ahead so it has time to completely chill before using.

For the Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350
Line jumbo muffin pans with cupcake liners

5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 cups + 4 tablespoons cake flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup of buttermilk, minus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon cream of coconut
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup toasted coconut

Have your eggs at room temperature, you’ll achieve much greater volume with the whipped whites this way.

Whisk flour and salt together.  Sift into a medium size bowl.

In a mixer with wire whisk attachment, whip egg whites on medium high speed until stiff peaks form.  Don’t overbeat!  Set aside.

In your mixer with a paddle attachment, combine oil and butter together on low speed (it will have tiny lumps, but don’t worry it will all come together).  Add sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well to combine.

Combine buttermilk, 1 tablespoon cream of coconut, and 1 teaspoon baking soda, stirring to blend well.

Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixture to the batter, beginning and ending with flour.  When adding flour, use on/off turns on low speed, slowly mixing until the flour is not quite incorporated.   Scrape down sides of the bowl and add coconut, mixing on low just to blend in any flour and the coconut.

With a rubber spatula, fold the whipped egg whites into the batter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl under the batter and up through, turning the bowl as you go.  Be gentle – you don’t want to deflate your egg whites!  Mix just until the egg whites are incorporated.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter.  Bake one sheet at a time  in the oven until light golden and cakes spring back when lightly pressed.  Remove pan from the oven and place it on a baking rack.  Cool in pans 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes to the rack to cool completely before filling and frosting.

Prepare frosting:

8 oz. softened mascarpone cheese
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream (organic preferred) – 35% fat content
1/2 teaspoon vanila
1/2 cup powdered sugar
chopped toasted pecans, for garnish
toasted coconut for garnish
*equipment:  mixing bowl and whire whisk attachment, placed in freezer for 10 minutes.

Have mascarpone at room temperature for about 30 minutes or so, to soften.  This is the key to having fluffy mascarpone frosting!

With a wire whisk attachment, beat mascarpone cheese on high speed until fluffy.  On low speed, add cream, sugar and vanilla until blended, then continue whipping on high until medium stiff peaks form.  Don’t over beat!  The mixture should be light and fluffy. Use immediately.

To assemble cupcakes:

Cut a small hole in the top of each cupcake, about the size of a quarter, going down only about halfway through.

Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip and fill it halfway full with the coconut cream.  Squeeze coconut cream into the holes in the cupcakes just until it is even with the top.

Now you’re ready to frost:  Fit another pastry bag with a star tip and fill with the mascarpone frosting.  Decoratively swirl frosting on top of cupcakes.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut and pecans.  If not serving right away, store them in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 1 day.

*to toast pecans, place on a baking sheet in a preheated 350 degree oven and toast until fragrant – about 5 minutes.  Watch carefully, they can burn quickly!

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for the kind comment Andi! Oh my, I just spotted the lemon crinkle cookies and lemon cupcakes on your site – they look so delish. I know what I’m going to bake tomorrow… lisa

  2. I want that cupcake. Italian cream cake is a favorite of mine and I’ve only made it a handful of times, but that frosting piled on top of that cute cupcake is just calling my name!

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