Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Coconut Cupcake Smack-Down

Ding, ding, ding....

Welcome to the First Food Smack-Down on The Sour Dough!

In this corner, weighing 1.2 ounces dressed in vanilla bean buttercream frosting and toasted coconut,


The Bon Appetit Coconut Cupcake.

And in this corner, weighing 1.3 ounces dressed coconut cream cheese frosting,


The Barefoot Contessa Coconut Cupcake.

If I had to pick one flavor of cupcakes that I could eat a whole dozen of in one sitting it would be coconut. Over the years I've probably baked a couple hundred coconut cupcakes and there is only one recipe I've ever used, Ina Garten's (The Barefoot Contessa). Her coconut cupcakes are the gold standard by which all other coconut cupcakes are compared.

On Monday while catching up with some of my friends blogs in my reader I noticed my good friend, Ivonne had baked coconut cupcakes for her regular Magazine Monday feature, Coconut Cupcakes. The recipe she used was from the April 2009 Bon Appetit and called for reduced coconut milk.

I'm not going to go into too much detail about reduced coconut milk. You can read about it in the link for the Bon Appetit coconut cupcakes. But, I will tell you this: I will never NOT have reduced coconut milk in my fridge ever again.

Anyways, after reading Ivonne's post, I left a cheeky comment about comparing head to head the Bon Apetit cupcakes against the Barefoot Contessa's and a few hours later Ivonne wrote back with one sentence, "Let's do it!".

Thus was born the food smack-down between Bon Appetit's Coconut Cupcake versus Ina Garten's Coconut Cupcake.


On Sunday, Ivonne and I got together on Skype and baked coconut cupcakes. Both recipes came together easy and after making the reduced coconut milk called for in the Bon Apetit recipe, my house smelled like a massive bottle of suntan oil had exploded all over the place.

If I had to choose based on batter alone, I would have said the Bon Apetit cupcake was the hands down winner. It was creamy and loaded with coconut flavor. I did miss the flaked coconut that the Ina Garten recipe.

After baking, I found the Bon Appetit cupcakes browned quicker than the Ina Garten. I also noticed that the Bon Appetit cake, while moister had a more subtle coconut flavor. I like the over top coconut flavor in the Barefoot Contessa cupcakes when they are baked. It was a surpising actually that the Bon Appetit cupcakes coconut flavor so strong in the batter tamed when baked.

I think the Ina Garten cream cheese frosting was the clear winner of the two. I'm sorry but you add coconut to cream cheese frosting and you can bury me in a huge vat of that stuff!

Not wanting to be the only arbitrator of which cupcake reigned supreme, I took a batch of each into the office. The office winner was the Bon Appetit cupcake by a 3 to 1 margin. Everyone liked the moistness of the cupcake and the toasted coconut and most found the coconut taste in the Barefoot Contessa version "overpowering". Weedhopper liked Ina's the best, declaring the coconut in the frosting and the frosting better. He said he wouldn't refuse either though.

Lastly, I had a final judge, a coconut cupcake specialist taste the two cupcakes. Ms. B, like myself, has always held Ina's coconut cupcake up as the ultimate and best coconut cupcake. She is familiar with my version of the Barefoot Contessa coconut cupcake and was more than happy to be ultimate taster.

Without telling her which cupcake was which, I had her taste the two samples. Her decision?

Bon Appetit but the Ina Garten frosting.

Hmm, maybe she's on to something there. Do I smell Coconut Cupcake Smack-Down Part II in the air?

Bon Appetit Cupcake with Barefoot Contessa Frosting anyone...