Ever heard of ice cream cupcakes? I bet you haven’t. I hadn’t either until I found this recipe contest, which can also be found here. I was intrigued immediately, as I hoped it would give my blog more exposure, but more importantly because it sounded crazy awesome and creative. Even though I’ve seen every episode of Cupcake Wars (don’t judge) and have researched and bookmarked more than my fair share of cupcake bakeries, I’ve never seen ice cream cupcakes. Sure I’ve found a bunch of insanely creative and just plain insane cupcakes, but never ones stuffed with ice cream. The moment I saw this contest and idea in general, I began thinking of possible flavor combinations, excited to see what my creation was going to taste like and hoping I might have a good chance of winning the contest.
This really is a genius idea. Cupcakes by themselves are awesome. Your own personal cake topped with tons of frosting. I’d usually rather have a piece of a whole cake, but there’s something special about that individual little cake. Peeling away the wrapper, making sure to get off as many crumbs as possible, tasting the cake, then the frosting, then both together. But to take it one step further and hollow out the center, though that center is certainly not to be wasted, and stuff it with as much ice cream as possible without breaking the cupcake into pieces must result in a delicious treat.
In the end, I settled on coconut cupcakes, stuffed with Ciao Bella Key Lime Graham Gelato, topped with vanilla marshmallow frosting and toasted coconut and a homemade graham cracker just to gild the lily. I was inspired by my resent trip to Joe Muer Seafood, where for dessert I had coconut cake and key lime pie and was rendered completely unable to choose which one I liked better. Creating a dessert combining those flavors sounded like an awesome idea.
The result was awesome. The almond and vanilla scented marshmallow frosting was killer as always, and even though it uses a candy thermometer, it’s easy to make. The gelato had amazing flavor, really tasting like key lime pie, which kind of surprised me. Toasted coconut added crunch and flavor and the graham cracker tasted even better than just a few days before. But then again, doesn’t any cookie covered in marshmallow frosting? Here’s the thing: the coconut cupcakes themselves? Not too tasty.
I used Ina Garten’s recipe and followed it with only a couple of very minor adjustments, but the cupcakes just weren’t very good. In the past her recipes have been hit and miss for me from an apple pie that was so bad most of it went in the trash to peach cake and apple and cranberry cake that I can’t wait to make again. The cupcakes were dry and flavorless, with no discernible taste of coconut even though I added a ton. I was expecting a rich, moist, decadent cake, and instead found a cupcake that tasted like it came from a grocery store.
I still highly recommend you try this idea using the ice cream and frosting and a coconut cupcake. Just choose a different cupcake recipe please, even a favorite vanilla cupcake recipe would work; just add a little almond extract and a bunch of coconut. I don’t want you to be disappointed in one of my recipes. With a killer coconut cupcake, you won’t be able to believe how yummy these are. There are definitely more ice cream cupcakes in my future.
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 ½ cups shredded unsweetened coconut (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ cups, plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 5 large egg whites
- ½ + ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 pint Ciao Bella Key Lime Graham Gelato
- 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut (Again, I like Bob’s Red Mill)
- 20 small graham crackers
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Make the cupcakes. Line 20 muffin cups with paper liners. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, or alternatively in a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, being sure to fully incorporate each before adding another. Add extracts and mix to combine.
- Alternately add the flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, with the mixer continuously running on medium-low. Once the batter is almost mixed, stir by hand to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated before folding in the coconut.
- Using a regular sized ice cream scoop, scoop batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until cupcakes spring back when touched and a toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan.
- Make the frosting. In a small saucepan, combine water, 1 ½ cups sugar, and corn syrup over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Once this happens, attach a candy thermometer, raise the heat to medium-high, and stop stirring. Allow the mixture to come to 240 degrees F on the candy thermometer. In the meantime, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high until frothy. Add the cream of tartar. Continue beating on medium-high until the egg whites form soft peaks. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar, before resuming beating until stiff peaks form.
- When the egg whites have formed stiff peaks and the sugar mixture has reached 240, remove the syrup from the heat and turn the mixer to medium-low. Slowly and immediately begin drizzling the syrup into the egg whites, trying not to get it on the side of the bowl. If the whites are done whipping before the syrup is done, turn them off until the syrup reaches 235, then turn them back on to make sure they are fluffy. If the syrup is done before the whites, turn the heat down or remove it from the heat for a minute or so.
- Once the syrup is drizzled into the whites, turn the mixer back up to medium-high and beat for about 7 minutes, until the bottom of the bowl is cool and the frosting is thick, glossy, and sticky. Put in refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed directly on top of the frosting until completely cool.
- Assemble the cupcakes. Using a small paring knife, hollow out the center of each cupcake. (Snack time!) Fill the centers with ice cream, pressing down to fill it as full as possible. Top with a heaping helping of frosting, an ice cream scoop can be used for this since it’s too sticky to be piped. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and stick a graham cracker in the frosting. Enjoy immediately so the ice cream doesn’t melt. May be stored in the freezer, wrapped in plastic and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to one month. Thaw at room temperature for just a few minutes.