My cupcakes’ baby daddy: Tom kha in normal form!

soup n burr

So, I feel a little redundant saying this, since you’ve all ready my lengthy and slightly verbose (Who would have guessed?) autobiography, but tom kha is what made me like Thai food. Again, you all know I’m not a huge fan of sweet, slimy good, in general, and when I was a wee thing, my parents always ordered something in that vein for me when we went for Thai. I figured it was all greasy and sweet and noodley and in general what I just.. don’t care for. Until..

Until! Until I went my freshman year of college with an old boyfriend and some of his friends into town and they demanded we eat at this Thai place. I was told they served sushi, and that the boyfriend would secretly get me Mexican food later on, so I was down. And then they literally forced me to have a bowl of tom kha. And then..

It was like running up a hill in a peasant dress, throwing daisy petals everywhere, and some Chaka Khan song playing in the background. And to whom was I running? That’s right. Tom kha. And Thai food everywhere, in general.


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Operation Spicy and Weird: Tom Kha… Cupcakes!

It’s probably a pretty well known fact that I absolutely adore tom kha, the Thai coconut soup with lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal, and chilis. Oh. And I kinda love cupcakes, too.

The other day I was hanging out with some friends from high school, when I discovered my friend Erica was also quite a foodie. I threw out weird ideas at her, ideas that made my parents cringe, and she squealed with excitement. So last night, we decided to get together and work on turning the tom kha soup into, yes.. cupcakes. Weirdly enough, she’d actually attempted the same thing beforehand, using handmade almond flour with whole wheat flour, but something about it just didn’t jive. I thought out all the different elements of the soup: coconut, galangal/ginger, lime, lemon, and spiciness.. and somehow we combined all of them into a surprisingly pretty cupcake:

Erica has a phenomenal camera that she brought and antagonized me with, so this is an EXTRA SPECIAL post. With, you know, a real camera. But never fear, I have been handed down an old Canon, so no more iPhone pictures! Rejoice! Aaand, onward.

We decided to infuse coconut and galangal in the base, as coconut milk would be an easy substitute for the milk in any cupcake batter, and the gingery taste of galangal couldn’t be too far fetched with that subtle coconut taste. I happened to have a bottle of minced galangal I picked up the last time I was at a big Whole Foods, that I could use to make the soup without having to run to the Asian Market, and I used its juice to flavor the batter. After subbing the coconut milk and the galangal for the called-for vanilla extract, we test-tasted and decided it needed more coconut. I ran downstairs to the seemingly endless pantry of weird stuff my parents keep and, lo and behold, found some shredded unsweetened coconut. We threw about a 1/4 cup of the stuff in the butter, and let me tell you.. That did the trick. The batter smelt of it; the freshly backed cupcakes smelt of it; the iced and day old cupcakes still smell of it. It’s a fabulous subtlety that’s not too sweet, like traditional coconut cake. It’s purely Thai.

Next, we decided to fill the coconut cupcakes with a spicy lemon curd. Let me just tell you.. if you haven’t filled cupcakes before, it’s one of the greatest joys in life. Cutting out those little cones, slicing the bulk off, filling it full of goo, and putting the top back on? Marvelous. Not only that, but filled cupcakes seem incredibly fancy and complicated.. And remember? Who do you want to impress? ME! And, you know, all your friends. So, we mixed a 10 ounce jar of lemon curd with about two teaspoons of cayenne pepper, and kept tasting and adding more cayenne until the heat was soft but very discernible.. A sort of burn deep in your throat.. Nothing painful, but something very deep and rich.Voilà, the mix:

The lemon curd and cayenne:

I multitask:

Lord knows I was Tweeting about doing exactly that at the time.


OK, onward.
To fill a cupcake.. First, you have to perform a little surgery. Cut a wide cone out of the top of the cupcake:

The removed piece should look like this:

A bunch of operated cupcakes:

Then, slice off the cone part of the of cupcake, leaving the top skin to go back on the cupcake after you fill it:

Then, dump filling into a plastic bag and cut off a tiny bit on one of the corners. Pipe filling into the little cavity you created in the cupcake:

Then you just pop the little cupcake lid back on and voilà!:

Ready for the icin’s.

In between filling the cupcakes and preparing the icing, I showed Erica how we’ve been overrun by random black flies lately. I’m pretty sure Beelzebub moved in. We documented:

Eeeewwwwww. No flies were included in the making of these cupcakes. Promise.

Moving on. We decided to infuse the lime in the frosting, with a little added kick of cayenne. We started with a basic buttercream and replaced the vanilla with lime juice. Not totally satisfied with the limy-ness of the frosting, we added about a lime’s worth of zest, and a bit more juice. Then went a bit crazy on the cayenne. It’s not quite as strong in desserts as it is in savory dishes, so you get gorgeous red flecks in all your stuff. Fantastique.

Then, I frosted!

Tada! All finished, mom.

A cupcake’s view.

Allllll done.
The cupcakes turned out surprsingly, well.. good. They were slightly spicy, and the flavors worked well. The coconut galangal cake was amazing. It was perfectly scented and moist, and the mixture of the spiced lemon curd and lime frosting was delicious. Ughhhhh droooool. Eat. Drooooool. Eat again.