Tropical Cupcakes

Brrrrrr! We're somewhere smack dab in the middle of winter. Christmas and New Year's have come and gone. We've said "sayonara" to Superbowl Sunday and "ta-ta" to Super Tuesday. Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow so we're in for six more weeks of winter.

I don't know about you but I'm ready for a tropical vacation. Somewhere nice and warm with endless miles of beach and palm trees all around.


Blessedly I've got one coming up! In one month, one week and 4 days (but who's counting! hahahaha) DJ and I are taking off on a 2-wk cruise to Hawaii.
I simply cannot wait! Cruise 4 days from Los Angeles to Hawaii... spend 5 days cruising around the Hawaiian islands... cruise 5 days back to Los Angeles (via Ensenada Mexico). Can't wait - can't wait - can't wait.

I've been going thru my closet trying on my dresses that I plan to take and WOOHOO they're fittin quite nicely thankyouverymuch! I started Weight Watchers two days before Thanksgiving and so far I've lost 14.8 pounds. Another 8 before we leave and I'll be pretty darn thrilled, if I must say :)

I love Weight Watchers... really I do! And ya know why? Because it works for me.

Now this isn't my first diet. 18 years ago I did Jenny Craig. Sure I lost weight but I couldn't eat the Jenny Craig meals forever and of course the weight came right back on once I tried cooking for myself. 8 years ago I did Atkins and Low-Carb. I lost a lot of weight... around 40 pounds... but giving up an entire food group just wasn't practical for me long term. Again, the weight came right back on. But Weight Watchers works for me! It's real food... it's portion control... it's something I can actually do. I can go pretty much anywhere and find something there that I can eat. I can have anything I want... I just can't have everything I want. I have to make smart choices about food and especially about exercise. And I don't feel deprived one bit since I'm not "dieting"... I'm just watching my weight :)

So I'm down 14.8 pounds and aiming for 8 more... before my 2 week cruise to Hawaii. Hey... Hawaii's tropical, right? Guess we need to make some Tropical Cupcakes to get us in the mood!! The idea for these cupcakes has been ruminating around in my head for several weeks now. Coconut cake w/shredded coconut... Kiwi-creme filling... Lime flavored buttercreme icing... topped with shredded coconut...(oh and the lil umbrella's optional! LOL)

Now I like to make mini cupcakes but hey, you can make full size or even jumbo if the mood strikes ya!

Tropical Cupcakes
adapted from Magnolia Bakery

3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter - softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs - room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350
Line 12 regular-sized (or 24 mini-sized) muffin tins with cupcake papers
Combine and sift the flours and set aside
Cream butter until smooth
Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy... about 2-3 minutes
Add the eggs... one at a time, beating well after each one
Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts... alternating the milk and vanilla
Be sure to beat well but take care not to over-beat as this produces a "tougher" cake
Also, be sure to scrape down the batter in the bowl with a rubber spatula to incorporate everything
Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners filling about 1/2-2/3 full (don't over-fill... these will rise)

Bake about 20-25 minutes for regular sized cupcakes... about 12-15 minutes for mini cupcakes... or until a cake tester inserted into center comes out cleanly.

Cool in the tins for about 15 minutes then remove to wire rack and cool completely before icing.

For the kiwi-creme filling... peel and slice/dice one kiwi fruit and combine with 3/4 cup butter creme icing.

My favorite buttercreme icing is Buttercream Dream which is not cloyingly sweet but definitely sweet enough!! I chose to add a few drops of Lime Oil for flavor and a smidge of Wilton green icing color.

Top with a bit of shredded coconut... insert a cocktail umbrella... and you've got yourself Tropical Cupcakes!!

Now all ya need is that tropical vacation =) But hey, can't help ya there! LOL