These coconut cupcakes are prefect for all occasions — a tropical treat during the summer and a wintry snowball when the weather gets cold. With coconut in the cake, the custard filling, and the frosting, you’re guaranteed to get lots of sweet, coconut flavor. This delicious cupcake recipe is courtesy of Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito for PaperChef.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners, such as PaperChef Tulip Cups.
Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the egg, and beat until just combined. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, and then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Fold the shredded coconut into the batter.
Fill the paper liners about three-quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and place them on the rack to cool completely.
Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, bring the half and half to a simmer. Add the unsweetened coconut, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes to let the coconut steep. Strain and discard the coconut.
In another medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, flour, and salt until the mixture is pale, about 1 minute. Whisk half of the warm half and half into the egg yolk mixture, and then pour that mixture into the remaining half and half in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through the sieve and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the coconut pastry cream for about 1 hour, or until chilled.
Then, fit a pastry bag with a medium tip and fill the bag with the coconut pastry cream. Puncture the center of a cupcake with the pasty tip and squeeze approximately 1 teaspoon of coconut pastry cream into the cupcake. Repeat for all cupcakes.
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla extract and ½ cup of the freshly made coconut pastry cream and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put it in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then mix again until it is the proper consistency.
Frost the top of each cupcake with the coconut frosting and sprinkle with shredded coconut.