It's been months since the reincarnation of the cupcake, sending yuppies, soccer moms, and recently dumped women everywhere to pay upwards of $5.00 for a single serving of cake and frosting. These one-and-done cakes are absolutely adorable, mind you, decorated to the nines with billows of frosting, shimmering crystallized flowers, or 24-carat gold leaf. Exotic (read: unappealing) ingredients including bacon, ranch dressing, and foie gras add more shock value than pleasure. All over the country, cutesy businesses with cutesy names have devoted themselves to cupcakes, and each time a new one pops up (and somehow, yes, new ones are still reappearing), I find myself thinking,
MY GOD. WHEN WILL THIS CUPCAKE HORROR SHOW END? ARE THERE NO OTHER WORTHY FOODSTUFFS IN CHICAGO?
Still, with all of the kitsch of the cupcake craze, I find myself baking up a batch once in a while. They have built-in portion control, don't require as much time as filling and frosting a regular cake, and are super easy to transport. Cupcakes, in all of their twee glory, are a damn fine option for taking to a party.
I ripped a recipe for Coconut Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream straight from the pages of Cooking Light (May 2009). This particular recipe calls for a bit of potato starch, a rare ingredient that can be used in lower fat baked goods to help retain moisture. I was able to find Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch in the organic section of my grocery store. The end result: Moist cake with just the slightest hint of coconut. Gritty, fake buttercream frosting was pleasingly tart and refreshing, with pretty speckles of lime zest throughout. Try the cake recipe with a bit less sugar and 1.5 times the coconut to even out the ratios. A lime meringue frosting would work really well with the coconut cake, even better that Italian or French buttercream.
Fortunately, the buzz is that pie is edging its way into the Chicago spotlight, and that cupcakes are going down. There may be hope yet.