It’s been downright balmy in San Francisco this week, sunny and in the seventies. It got me thinking about beaches, coconuts, papayas, and other things tropical. I had been planning on making Vietnamese coffee cupcakes and stumbled upon a recipe for baked coconut rice pudding. I settled quickly on using the rice pudding as a stuffing for a cupcake and went from there.

The end result was quite delicious. I found though that the cupcakes tasty significantly better the second day after all the flavors had time to meld together. The rice pudding is fantastic on its own and the recipe provides for plenty of left overs. In fact each individual component – the pudding, the simple cake, the frosting, the fruit – is great. And even if one thing didn’t quite come out, you’d still have a tasty treat on your hands.

Cupcakes from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon chopped lime zest

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl.
5. Measure out milk and lime juice/zest together.
6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
7. Add about one third the milk/lime juice mixture and beat until combined.
8. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
9. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes).
10. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Tip: It is important that the butter is at room temperature and beat well. Otherwise you might get butter chunks which sort of melt into little pools and make the cupcakes come out funny-looking. Not a huge deal, but I thought I’d mention it.

lime zest

Vietnamese Baked Coconut Rice Pudding

1/2 cup rice, short grain
2-1/2 cups coconut milk
1-1/3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter, cut into chunks
1 cup loosely packed sweetened, flaked coconut – toasted

1. Toast coconut if you haven’t already. Spread on a cookie sheet and place in 350 degree oven for a five or so minutes shaking occasionally until golden brown.
2. Mix the rice with the coconut milk, the milk and the sugar.
3. Grease an oven proof dish. Transfer mixture into the dish, top with chunks of butter, and place in the oven. Be careful, as this is a liquidy mixture and tends to spill.
4. After 30 minutes stir in the coconut and return to the oven.
5. Cook for another 1-1/2 hours, or until almost all the milk is absorbed and a golden skin has formed on top of the pudding.
6. Remove and let cool.

toasted coconut

Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces or 1-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

1. Bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment.
3. Beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy.
4. Add half of the sugar and the ginger. Beat until combined.
5. Gradually add remaining sugar (more if you have to) until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

Tip: For this recipe, where fresh fruit is set on top of the cupcake, it is best to use a cup or so more sugar to get a stiffer consistency. I didn’t do that and the fruit slid off somewhat in transit.

fruit garnish

1. Using a small pairing knife, cut off the top of the cupcake in the shape of a cone. Flip the top over and cut off the base of the cone.
2. Fill the cavity with a teaspoon or so of rice pudding.
3. Replace top.
4. Frost with the frosting.
5. Arrange slices of thinly sliced tropical fruit, like papaya, mango, and banana.

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