The Intrepid, Resourceful Baker

This is my Christmas post…

And last of 5 posts in 1 day…

…..I’ll give you a minute to judge me for having no life……

Ok, cool.I titled it this way because I concocted a very neat cupcake whilst being both unafraid of failure and running out of key ingredients.

A friend of mine requested an “Almond Joy-ish” cupcake with an added flavor of coffee. I’ve never made a coffee cupcake before and I was excited to throw something together like that. Lucky for me I happen to be reading my mom’s Better Homes and Gardens magazine which featured several cupcake recipes, one being a Coconut-Pecan cupcake. I took this recipe, and adapted it a little to factor in the coffee element.

Coconut-Pecan-Coffee Cupcakes

(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee (more or less depending on strength and degree of desired flavor)
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted


  1. 1. Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla; beat until blended.
  2. 2. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk and coffee, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in coconut and pecans.
  3. 3. Beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form, and fold into batter. Place 36 paper baking cups in 3 (12-cup) muffin pans; spoon batter into cups, filling half full.
  4. 4. Bake at 350° for 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Remove from pans to wire racks, and let cool completely (about 45 minutes).

Because I don’t generally bake with coffee in any form, ever, I held back a little on my use of it. I also didn’t know how strong to brew it, but, as coffees go, I would guess it was on the weaker end. I used a little over a 1/2 cup.

Ze batterrr:

For the frosting, the recipe had some caramel frosting made with melted caramels, but I went with my most favorite icing EVARR, the salty caramel one from Sprinklebakes. What can I say, I like making my own caramel sauce?

As I was getting ready to caramelize the sugar, a lightbulb went off in my head, to perhaps use the leftover coffee in place of plain water. Genius, no?? No. For two reasons:
1- regular water is clear, and the mixture turns brown after caramelizing- the key to knowing when it’s done. Coffee/sugar mixtures are unfortunately already brown, thus eliminating the necessary color gauging aspect.
2- Perhaps this was due to the lack of color change and subsequent possible burning of the liquid, but the coffee did not seem to hold up well to intense reduction. In other words, it did not smell very good as the attempt went on. So, I don’t recommend embarking on this particular journey into mad science.

So I just whipped up a batch of standard recipe-guided frosting. Turns out, the above cupcake recipe yields a whopping 36 cupcakes, so I ran out of frosting after the first 15 or 16. Not a big deal, just make some more, duh…. except I had also run out of heavy cream, the cardinal ingredient in turning the sugar liquid to caramel. I had about 1.5 tbsp left, and nothing more.

Except egg nog.

Since I’d already crashed and burned once, what’s another failed experiment? So I subbed another 3 tbsp of egg nog for heavy cream and prayed to the baking gods that I’d found a loophole…….

And it worked!

Not only did it make a flawless sauce, it added a Christmasy egg nog-gy flavor to the frosting. Thank goodness for egg nog…

&& God bless us everyone!


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