Coconut Macaroon Cupcakes w/ Bittersweet Ganache Icing

Last Sunday I woke up with the urge to bake so even before Eugene had completely opened his eyes, I made my way into the kitchen and got to work.

You know I love to bake with almond meal, so I decided on a chewy macaroon-like cupcake that used almond meal and ground desiccated coconut as its base. I used coconut oil instead of butter (you can also use olive oil if you don't have the former) and a bit of coconut milk for added moisture. A generous shot of my homemade vanilla extract helped round out the flavors.

They baked up perfectly in just about 20 minutes, after which I bopped around impatiently waiting for them to cool. The tops are golden and chewy, and the insides are very soft and moist. I topped a few of them with some leftover bittersweet chocolate ganache I had in the fridge from a cake I made earlier in the week. The sparkles are silver sanding sugar that I bought at Williams Sonoma last year, but have never quite gotten around to using yet. I love how they contrast with the shiny foil liners, although in the future I will use paper liners; the foil ones don't allow the bottom of the cupcakes to cool properly and they tend to steam a bit which isn't ideal for a cake.

That evening, after a day spent indulging in various dishes at the 9th Ave International Food Festival, I brought these cupcakes over to my future in-law's house for dinner. They were meant to be a gift for Eugene's dad who is a coconut fiend, but he was forced to share as the rest of the table dove in.

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Coconut Macaroon Cupcakes
These chewy and moist cupcakes can be served with or without the chocolate ganache icing.

2 cups almond meal
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened ground desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut or olive oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine the 2 cups almond meal, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ground desiccated coconut, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the base of your mixer, combine the cup of sugar and the 4 large eggs. Whisk for 4-5 minutes, or until the eggs are light, frothy, and have doubled in volume. Add the coconut oil, coconut milk, and vanilla and whisk until incorporated.

4. Fold in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are well incorporated.

5. Use an ice cream scoop or spoon to divide the batter evenly between the tins (you should get about a dozen large cupcakes, 2 dozen small ones).

6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the tins and let cool on a rack. Serve as is, or if you'd like, top with chocolate ganache. (Recipe below)

Best served within 24 hours.

Basic Bittersweet Ganache

2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 pound bittersweet chocolate (chips or chopped)

Place the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Heat the heavy cream over medium heat just until it reaches a simmer. Pour the hot heavy cream over the chocolate pieces and used a whisk to mix and combine until smooth. Let cool at room temperature. The ganache will thicken when cool.

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