Hawaii is actually far more known as a producer of macadamia nuts and pineapple in the commercial world, but coconut, being a fun baking ingredient, is where Brown opted to go.
The coconut flavor in these cupcakes is from coconut milk and coconut oil, the latter of which I had never even heard of before, let alone baked with. I called Whole Foods before I bothered getting on my bike to make sure they'd have it and they did. It's a weird oil because it's hard and not solid like shortening, but hard and you kind of have to chip it out of the jar. I needed a quarter-cup and used the water measuring technique my mom showed me years and years ago, filling a measuring cup with a half-cup of water and then adding the coconut oil until the water level reached 3/4 cup. It sure beats trying to shove greasy, hard oil into a measuring cup. Because the recipe called for the so the coconut oil, it called for very little butter (just about three tablespoons). This made me wonder about experimenting with recipes to make pareve (no dairy or meat) desserts more tasty.
The cupcakes baked very nicely. They were topped with an "Old-fashioned Tangy Buttercream," which uses a similar method as the old fashioned buttercream from the Red Velvet and Hartford Election cakes, but with buttermilk instead of regular milk. The icing didn't quite come together as well as I would have liked it to originally. I think the milk mixture was still too warm when I added it to the creamed butter-sugar mixture, so the butter melted a little, but it all firmed up in the fridge. I liked the icing, but I think I would go for something more tropical with these cupcakes in the future.
The cupcakes themselves were very good. Or so I've been told. My father said the cake was a bit dry, but the icing was good, but then he managed to eat the third cake I brought over (and decided not to eat because I'm me), meaning that he'd eaten two in a space of about 10 minutes. It seems that men never do outgrow that garbage disposal period they go through in high school. I have a bunch left for the pot luck. Maybe I'll try one then.
Next Stop: I'm not 100% sure, but I think I'm going to attempt the Smith Island Cake for the End of the World Party on Friday. We'll see!