I dreamed up these little creations months ago while still at uni, and just thought that they would be perfect for Easter. I'm not usually a huge fan of coconut, so they're a little outside my comfort zone. I have to say, though, that the flavours work together beautifully. If you're looking to create something a little different that's still simple to achieve for a novice baker, then I would give these a whirl!
- 100g Self-Raising Flour (sifted)
- 100g Caster Sugar
- 100g Unsalted Butter (softened)
- 2 Eggs
- 4 tsp Lemon Juice (I'd substitute for 1 tsp lemon essence if I were doing it again!)
- 3 Egg Whites
- 150g Caster Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
- 3/4 tsp Vanilla Essence
- Dessicated Coconut
- Mini Eggs
Start off by making your cakes. I got this recipe from Nigella's website, although I've adapted it ever so slightly (say what you will about her private life, but that woman can make a dessert). First of all, preheat your oven to 200ºC /180º fan (400ºF). Ensuring your butter is soft, mix it together with the sugar until fluffy. Now add your lemon flavouring, and incorporate before adding the eggs. I whisked mine a little first. Finally, I folded in the flour.
This batter made 10 fairy cakes for me, and they took 15 minutes to bake. Try them for 10 minutes first, and take them out of the oven when they are slightly golden on top. They should spring back when touched and a cocktail stick should come out clean. Super simple, but lovely with a slightly sticky texture - delicious! Although mine could have been a little more lemony, which is why I'd be interested to switch the juice for some lemon essence.
Whilst the cakes are cooking/cooling, you can get a start on the icing. This recipe was online as a marshmallow frosting, but it is essentially meringue batter. Don't let this put you off, though, as it really doesn't take that long to whip up. Plus, any leftover icing can be used to make some delicious meringues. Trust me. If I can manage this one, then so can you. If you're not keen on having some leftover meringues or loading the cakes with icing, I would probably make about third of this.
Let's put the all of the ingredients (apart from the vanilla) together and mix until combined (around 60 seconds). Now, heat a little water in a saucepan (until simmering), and sit your mixing bowl in the saucepan. Whisk this by hand while it heats up for around six minutes. The mixture should be hot to the touch before you take it off the saucepan. Next mix with your electric whisker on a medium setting for about a minute. Then whisk on the high setting until the mixture is stiff, and peaks are forming as you take the beaters out. Add the vanilla, and mix again until just incorporated.
Here comes the fun bit; decorating! There are tons of ways that you can do this, but I went for a coconut nest with some little mini eggs sitting in it. I think that it's a fun take on a clichéd Easter design. Plus, this adds just the right amount of coconut to get that gorgeous smell without an overbearing taste! Before you start anything, trim the tops of your cupcakes off with a knife so that you're working on a flat surface. Yes, you can nibble on these while you work. I started by adding a thin layer of icing with a knife (this is to seal off any crumbs), before switching to a spoon to add a dollop and smooth it over the top.
Place some dessicated coconut in a bowl, and dip your cake gently inside. Repeat if there are any sparse areas, and shake the cake a little so that any excess coconut falls off. If you want your meringues toppings to be a little crispy, then chuck in a warm oven (about 120ºC) for five minutes. I personally carried on by gently placing your mini eggs on top - although having tried both techniques, I can vouch that they are both equally delicious!
And that's just about it. It's certainly not rocket science, and it might even be fun to decorate these with any kids in the family! If you do decide to try this recipe, please let me know. I'd love to see some pictures, too!