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Published: Sunday, 7/24/2011

Easy cupcakes start with a mix

BY ALICIA ROSS, WITH BEVERLY MILLS
DESPERATION DINNERS

The nation has gone cuckoo for cupcakes. Shops dedicated to the bite-size or larger confections now dot the country. While this trend has been building over the past five years or so, I still don't get it. More than a few food bloggers say Sex in the City is to blame for the cupcake craze, ever since Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie ducked into Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street in New York City.

Others say the economic downturn has made cupcakes so popular. While spending $3-plus for a single cupcake is hardly pinching pennies, I suppose it's still cheaper than buying a whole cake.

I've even been known to purchase one or two over the years. Some are truly delightful, but others have tasted like cardboard with plastic frosting. And again, I ask myself why? For almost the same price as one, you can bake 24 at home!

Enter today's super-easy and summer-fresh Cuckoo Coconut Cupcakes. The secret is to make the cake mix with coconut milk and refrigerate the finished cupcakes until you're ready to serve. These delicious confections are light and airy and full of coconut flavor.

Visit the Desperation Dinners Web site at: www.kitchenscoop.com.

Cuckoo Coconut Cupcakes

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes

1 box (18.25 ounces) white cake mix

⅔ cup water

1 can (13.66 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk, divided use

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 eggs

3 cups Lite Cool Whip

1 package (6 ounces) frozen "fresh" shredded coconut, thawed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees for dark metal pans and 350 degrees for shiny metal or glass pans.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together cake mix, water, ⅔ cup coconut milk, oil, and eggs. Whisk or use a hand mixer to mix well. Line a muffin tin (or line two muffin tins) with foil cupcake liners and fill each cup ⅔ full. Place on center rack of oven and bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until cupcakes are light gold. Remove from oven and, using a toothpick, poke several small holes in the hot cupcakes. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of coconut milk over each cupcake and let cool 30 minutes in pans. Then remove cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, mix Cool Whip and the remaining coconut milk together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

When cupcakes are cool, top with Cool Whip mixture and sprinkle a heaping teaspoon of coconut over each. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Approximate values per cupcake: 188 calories (51 percent from fat), 11 g fat (7 g saturated), 26 mg cholesterol, 2 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, 156 mg sodium



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