Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tres Leches Coconut Cupcakes With Dulce de Leche Buttercream-The Quick And Easy Version

Yesterday was my son-in-law's birthday and I wanted to make him something really special.  He loves my Tres Leches Coconut Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream that landed me a spot on The Ultimate Recipe Showdown on Food Network in 2008, but I'm not going to lie:  although very delicious, these cupcakes are pretty time consuming to make. 

And because every flower, weed, and tree bud known to man is now in full bloom in my part of Mississippi, and is sending my body into a sneezy/watery-eyed/dry sore throat/body-aching/sinus pressured/pollen-induced frenzy, I haven't felt like baking or cooking or EVEN polishing my toes in a bright spring color, which is something I've been waiting weeks to do.  (Yay! for spring, but Boo! for spring allergies.)  So, I made over my original recipe to make it easy and quick (er).

Here are some tips when making this recipe:
-I prefer to cook my dulce de leche in the oven instead of buying the bottled stuff at the store.  I think it's better this way.  DO NOT forget to cover with foil first or you'll get a brown, tarry, unusable substance.  I speak from experience.

- They freeze well and you can even eat them straight out of the freezer because all the milk in the cupcake prevents the cake part from getting rock hard.  They can be brought to room temperature to serve, too, just store them in the fridge.

- You will probably have injecting liquid left over, but don't you worry your pretty little head about that because I've got a couple of ideas on how to use it up.  The first way is to drizzle a little bit of the liquid on a small dessert plate, then take the cupcake out of the wrapper and place in the center of the drizzle.  This makes for a pretty and more elegant presentation.  The second way to use up the liquid is to place a tablespoon or so in your morning coffee in place of your usual cream.  I'm SERIOUS about this.  I did it this morning and it was delicious, although I had to use a little extra sweetener.

-I like to cook my dulce de leche and bake my cupcakes and inject them the day before, then leave them to chill in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day I just whip up my frosting and top with the coconut.

-If you don't have an injector needle, you could certainly poke holes in the top of the cupcakes and drizzle the mixture over the top.  I just like using the needle because I can better control where the mixture goes in; also,  it doesn't leave big holes that smash the cake.   Let me add this about injector needles:   if you already have one that has been used for turkey or other meat, I would not use it for your baked goods.  Just buy another one that is used just for baking, that way there is not a chance of contamination.  There is a picture of an injector and how to use it in this post.

Tres leches means "three milks" in Spanish and here is a little history of the cake if your interested.

Tres Leches Coconut Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream-The Quick and Easy Version

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk, divided

1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix

Ingredients to make the cake

1 teaspoon coconut extract

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (not cream of coconut)

2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

About 1 cup shredded, flaked coconut, toasted

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  To make the dulce de leche:  pour 1 can of the sweetened condensed milk in a glass pie plate or similar size glass casserole dish; cover with foil.  Place the pie plate in a large roasting pan where it can sit flat.  Pour hot water into the roasting pan to a depth of about halfway up the pie plate.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes or until caramel colored.  Let cool completely.
  2. Mix up cake according to package directions using recommended ingredients and adding 1 teaspoon coconut extract to the batter.  Pour into paper lined cupcake pans filling about 3/4 full.  Bake according to package directions. 
  3. While cupcakes are baking, whisk together the remaining can of sweetened condensed milk, the evaporated milk, and the coconut milk.  When cupcakes come out of the oven, inject each of them with the milk mixture using an injection needle and about 1/2 to 3/4 ounce in each cupcake.  Cool completely before frosting.
  4. To make the frosting, beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy.  Add the dulce de leche and beat until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time and beat until smooth and light and fluffy.
  5. Frost cupcakes generously with frosting, then sprinkle with toasted coconut.  Keep refrigerated.
Pour the water between the roasting pan and the pie plate for the dulce de leche.

The dulce de leche will be thick, but this is okay.  It will blend into the frosting perfectly.

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