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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Early Easter Part 1: Spring Chick Tres Leches Coconut Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

I saw Lorie Roach make these cupcakes on Food Network's Ultimate Recipe Showdown last year, and she won in the cupcake category. I absolutely love coconut (and tres leches cakes), so they have been on my list of desserts to make since then. I finally decided it was the right time to make them after stumbling upon this Martha Stewart idea for making these chick cupcakes, so I thought why not combine the two! The only pitfall - it makes for a LONG recipe title! :)

For Easter, my family always has a big coconut cake, so coconut is synonymous with Easter for me. Since Bob and I are spending Easter alone this year, I wanted to make a delicious dessert for us. I made them early because I wanted to post them before Easter in case anyone wants to try them out! Plus I am taking a bunch to work because this recipe makes 16 cupcakes!

To answer your question, yes they do taste as good as they sound!!! These cupcakes are fantastic! I love the tres leches cake, and the dulce de leche buttercream is outstanding. Covering in toasted coconut provides a perfect crunch. If you've never made dulce de leche with sweetened condensed milk before - do it! I could have eaten that by itself-yum!

Check back Saturday morning when I will post another Easter-themed dessert that I made alongside these chicks!!!
Don't worry - I washed that egg shell w/ soap & warm water first!
These cupcakes are not just for Easter!

Spring Chick Tres Leches Coconut Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

For the cupcakes:
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup coconut milk

For the buttercream:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle brand)
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar

For the decorations:
(amounts depend on the # of cupcakes, I had 16)
4 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
red licorice lace
16 whole almonds
mini chocolate chips - 16 pairs

Make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350F.

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed; add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until all the yellow disappears. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add alternately with the buttermilk, to the creamed mixture beginning and ending with the flour.

2. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into cake batter.

3. Fill standard paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cook in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack that has been placed over a baking sheet to cool.

4. While cupcakes are still warm, stir together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the coconut milk. Poke several holes in the top of each of the cupcakes with 1/4-inch wooden skewer. Pour the milk mixture over each cupcake while they are still warm, filling each hole. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight before icing.

Make the buttercream:
Preheat oven to 425F.

1. To make the dulce de leche, pour the sweetened condensed milk into a glass pie plate or pyrex dish and cover with foil. Place a larger roasting pan where pie plate can sit flat. Pour hot water into the roasting pan to a depth of about halfway up the pie plate/dish. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Stir until smooth.

2. Place egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl. Stir the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a small, heavy saucepan. Whisk in the water first, then the dulce de leche and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk the dulce de leche mixture into the 2 egg yolks. Stir in the vanilla. Strain through a wire mesh strainer into a small bowl and set aside to cool.

3. Beat the butter on high speed in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled dulce de leche mixture. Beat in the 1 cup powdered sugar until smooth and spreadable. Note: Many reviewers of this recipe on Food commented that they used less than 1 cup of powdered sugar because the buttercream is very sweet. I tasted it after using just 1/2 cup, and it was plenty sweet, but I wanted the consistency to be a little thicker for the making the chicks, so I used the full cup. It's not ridiculously sweet, but definitely could be cut down if desired.

Source: Adapted from Food Network's Ultimate Recipe Showdown, recipe courtesy of Lorie Roach

Decorate the cupcakes:
The original recipe recommends different candy for the eyes and feet/comb, but I couldn't find it so I used what I could.

1. Remove paper wrappers from cupcakes, spread buttercream on cupcake top and turn them upside-down to anchor to a small plate while you are working. To make the body of the chick, use a small offset spatula to coat the sides thickly with frosting, and then mound more on top to create a dome shape.

2. Press toasted coconut into the frosting for the fuzzy feathers. Hold the plate at an angle while applying the coconut so the excess falls back into the bowl. At this point you may use a spatula to transfer the chick to a serving platter and then decorate, or proceed to step 3 and transfer later.

3. Place eyes (mini chocolate chips) on chicks using tweezers or by hand. Use a whole almond for the beak and red licorice for the feet and comb; both can be pushed into the frosting by hand. If using red licorice lace (or pull and peel like I did), you can squeeze the ends of the 3 pieces of licorice together to help the feet stay in one piece.

4. Use a spatula to transfer the completed chick to a serving platter.

Source: Adapted from Martha


  1. ok, those seriously have to be the cutest things ever.

    I'm crossing my fingers that "Happy Early Easter Part 2" is going to homemade Cadbury Eggs!

  2. OH MY GOSH!! SOOOOOOO flipping cute!!!!

  3. Hi there. Came here via Two Peas in a Pod and wanted to say hello. These look adorable!!!!! Great blog you got here!!!!

  4. Think the coconut should be tinted yellow for the chicks. and who touched the almond???

  5. Oh wow Meghan - they are adorable!! SO cute and they look they taste fantastic as well! I'm completely impressed :)

  6. That is SOOOO cute! I squealed at work!

  7. Oh my gosh, these cupcakes are like the cutest thing I've ever seen! I bet they taste as good as they look.

  8. OMG..the little chicklets are sooo adorable!!!

  9. Thanks everyone! My coworkers LOVED these cupcakes!

    auntsuey - My chicks are all-natural, farm-raised so they are a golden color :) I picked up each almond using a piece of paper towel.

  10. Those little chicks are adorable! I love the eggshell on top. You're so creative. :o)

  11. This is Meghan's husband and I have to say that these are the best tasting cupcakes I have ever had in my life. I felt bad cutting into the first one because it was put together so nicely, but once I tasted it I had no problem quickly inhaling the rest of it. The cake is so moist and then the coconut gives it a really nice crunch. Have to try them.

  12. Wow! So delisyoso! 마시다!

  13. I love your Easter treats, too cute! Have a great weekend!

  14. Meghan, did you have one? If so, was yours beakless? Do you have suggestions for beak substitutions?

  15. I can't stop smiling....they are so adorable. Their picture needs to be on the "wall of cute" at your office. Yes, I bet they are delicious, too.


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