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Passion Fruit Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

The pulp of passion fruit is intensely sweet-and-sour and has a fruity, exotic taste with hints of citrus and flowers. In this recipe, rich vanilla-scented cupcakes are filled with a sunny-colored passion fruit curd and are finished with a sweet coconut frosting that pairs perfectly with their tropical flavor.

Ingredients:

For the passion fruit curd: 

  • 4 fresh ripe passion fruits, or 1/4 cup frozen passion fruit pulp, thawed 
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature  
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter 
  •   

For the cupcakes: 

  • Nonstick cooking spray 
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature 


For the coconut frosting:

  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar 
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk 
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract 

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts 

Directions:

To make the passion fruit curd, cut the passion fruits in half and scoop their pulp into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Press on the pulp to push it through the sieve and discard the seeds. Measure 1/4 cup pulp and juice and add it to a nonreactive saucepan. Whisk in the egg yolks, granulated sugar and salt. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and turns a bright orange-yellow color (do not let the mixture boil), 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter and then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Let cool for 15 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and place a cupcake liner in each muffin cup.

To make the cupcakes, in a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the cream and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup.

Using a stand mixer on low speed, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until blended, then raise the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternately with the cream mixture in 2 batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Raise the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute to aerate.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until the centers spring back when pressed lightly with a fingertip, about 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: Using a stand mixer on medium-low speed, beat the butter with half of the confectioners’ sugar until crumbly. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar and beat until powdery, about 1 minute. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the coconut milk and coconut extract. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the coconut milk mixture and beat until blended. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

Using a paring knife, cut a 1 1/2-inch-wide cone-shaped core halfway down into the center of each cupcake; gently remove the cores and set aside. Fill each cupcake with about 1 Tbs. of the passion fruit curd and replace the cores. Frost the cupcakes with the coconut frosting and sprinkle with the chopped nuts. Let the frosting set for about 15 minutes, then serve. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Desserts, by Raquel Pelzel (Oxmoor House, 2008).