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Hairy caterpillar cupcakes

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Ingredients

Hairy caterpillar cupcakes
  • 1 batch yellow cake batter (see below)
  • 6 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup large batch italian meringue buttercream (see below)
Yellow cake batter
  • 1 batch yellow cake batter (see below)
  • 6 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup large batch italian meringue buttercream (see below)
  • 3 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoon large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
Italian meringue buttercream
  • 1 batch yellow cake batter (see below)
  • 6 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup large batch italian meringue buttercream (see below)
  • 3 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoon large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 cup large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 1/4 cup (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Caterpillar cupcakes1. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven (you’ll use both racks).

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Coat the insides of two standard 12-cup muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare the Yellow Cake batter.

Fill the wells about three-quarters full with batter and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cupcakes shows a few moist crumbs when removed.

The exact timing will vary depending on the recipe selected, but cupcakes bake quickly so begin testing at 15 minutes.

Cool the pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then unmold the cupcakes and place them directly on the rack to cool completely.

2. For the hair, place the coconut in a large bowl.

Add 1/8 teaspoon coloring and stir and toss the coconut with a metal spoon (it will dye wooden implements) until the color is distributed throughout.

Add more color, if necessary, to get effect you want.

3. Have the frosting ready to use; it should be as soft as mayonnaise.

Line a jellyroll pan with aluminum foil; set aside.

Place about 2 cups of soft buttercream in a small bowl.

Literally roll a cupcake around in the buttercream.

This is not an exact science — and it is somewhat messy! You are just trying to get a fairly even coating of buttercream all around the cupcake.

Use your fingertips or two spoons to push the cupcake around on the surface of the buttercream.

Remove the cupcake from the buttercream and immediately roll it in the coconut.

The cupcake will take on a round shape.

Keep rolling it until it is completely covered.

Transfer to the prepared jellyroll pan.

Repeat with all the cupcakes, replenishing buttercream as you go.

(The reason for using a small amount at a time is so that if a cupcake falls apart and produces a lot of crumbs, you will not ruin all of the buttercream).

4. Arrange the cupcakes end-to-end on a serving platter.

I find a slightly curving, wiggly shape is best.

Insert pretzels for antennae, and create eyes and mouth as desired using candies.

Legs can also be made using short pieces of licorice.

Chill until the buttercream firms, at least 1 hour.

Bring back to room temperature before serving.

Yellow cake batter1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Coat the insides of two 9x2-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottoms with parchment rounds, then the spray the parchment.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-size bowl to combine and aerate; set aside.

Beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed.

Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice.

Beat in the vanilla.

3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition and allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing.

Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternately with the milk, while beating on low speed.

Begin and end with the flour, and beat briefly until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula.

Italian meringue buttercream1. Place 1 cup of the sugar and the water in a small saucepan.

Stir to wet the sugar.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally.

Dip a pastry brush in cold water and wash down the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan once or twice.

Allow the sugar mixture to simmer gently as you proceed with the egg whites.

2. Meanwhile, place the egg whites in a clean, grease-free stand mixer bowl and whip until frothy on low speed using the balloon whip attachment.

Add the cream of tartar and turn the speed up to medium-high.

When soft peaks form, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar.

Continue whipping until stiff, glossy peaks form.

3. Bring the sugar-water mixture to a rapid boil and cook until it reaches 248º to 250º F.

As the syrup cooks, check for visual clues to assess temperature: It starts out thin with many small bubbles over the entire surface.

As the water evaporates, the mixture will become visibly thicker.

The bubbles become larger and pop open more slowly.

At this point, the syrup definitely looks thickened, but it has not begun to color; this is the firm ball stage.

If you drop a bit of the syrup into a glass of cold water, it will form into a ball.

When you squeeze the ball between your fingertips, it will feel firm.

4. When the syrup is ready, pour a thin, steady stream directly over the meringue.

Do not pour any onto the whisk or the sides of the bowl.

Whip the meringue until cool to the touch; this step is very important.

With the machine running, add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time.

Keep beating until the buttercream is completely smooth.

5. The buttercream is now ready to use.

(Any flavorings may be added at this point; variations are given below.)

. May be refrigerated up to 1 week in an airtight container or frozen up to 1 month.

If frozen, defrost in refrigerator overnight and bring to warm room temperature before rebeating.

Always rebeat before using.