I am so very ready for it to be spring now.
I’m ready for warm weather, and sunshine, and drinks outside in the evening. Spring, however, is showing no signs of being on its way.
Now, Hong Kong doesn’t do spring particularly well at the best of times. Coming from a very green part of England, spring means flowers poking their colourful heads up through the brown leafy detritus of winter. It starts with the sea of snowdrops, carefully planted by my parents at the bottom of the garden. Trip after trip to the market, flowers bought by the bunch. Soil covered roots wrapped in newspaper and brought home in a bag. Then come the crocuses, delicate purple trumpets, and primroses with their pale yellow, smiling faces. Then, the best part, a garden filled with bright yellow daffodils, nodding their pretty heads in the breeze, catching the sun. Spring means dewy mornings and blue skies. Warm jackets in the morning, but sitting outside for beer garden lunches in the middle of the day. Spring brings the promise of summer and colour and light.
Hong Kong, on the other hand, just gets warmer. That’s about it. No buds on the trees, no flowers in the hedgerows. This year, its not even doing that. No, things remain resolutely grey, misty and chilly around here.
These cupcakes are a dream of summer time. Coconut, to me, speaks of holidays in sun-bleached places. Heat rising in dreamy waves, blurring the landscape and blurring the days. Its coconut ice cream in central Thailand, steaming bowls of Thai curry in Chiang Mai, drinking from an enormous fresh coconut waiting for the sunset on the terrace of a Bagan temple, piles and piles of green coconuts heaped up on Philippine islands. The smell of coconut suntan lotion on a Hong Kong beach, sipping cold Tsing Tao beer from its green glass bottle.
When I bite into these cupcakes I’m taken back to these memories. They remind me that the Asian summers make up missing the British spring time. They make me feel like perhaps spring and summer are actually on their way.
The cupcakes are light and fluffy. The milk in the sponge is replaced with coconut milk providing a beautiful, rich, coconut taste. Desiccated coconut is added for even more taste and bite.
The coconut ganache was inspired by this chocolate sauce. I stored the leftovers in the fridge and couldn’t stop myself going back to it with a spoon. Its rich and indulgent as every good ganache should be, but the coconut cream makes it a little lighter and fresher.
I hope this weekend is sunny where you are, and if not, perhaps these cupcakes will make up for it a little.
Coconut Cupcakes with Chocolate and Coconut Ganache
(Makes 6 cupcakes)
for the cupcakes
115g unsalted butter
115g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
100g self-raising flour
30g desiccated coconut
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
120ml coconut milk
for the coconut cream ganache
100ml coconut cream
100ml double cream
125g dark chocolate
a few tablespoons of desiccated coconut to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a six hole cupcake tray with paper cases.
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Beat in the eggs. Add the dry ingredients, the flour, baking powder and desiccated coconut. Stir until combined. Finally, mix in the coconut milk, this should make the batter smooth.
Divide between the cupcake cases.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until risen and golden. An inserted skewer should come out clean.
Meanwhile make the ganache.
Very finely chop the chocolate and place into a large, heat proof bowl.
In a pan, heat the coconut cream and cream together until steaming. Take off the heat. Sit for about two minutes, then pour over the chocolate.
Stir rapidly until all the chocolate has melted. Stir in a pinch of salt.
Leave to cool completely. Once cool it will have a thick, spreadable constancy. If you find it is a bit too runny to work with, pop it in the fridge to set a little.
Using a knife, spread a generous layer of ganache over the top of your cupcakes.
Sprinkle with more desiccated coconut.
If you have any left over ganache, it will keep in the fridge for about a week or so.