Coconut Cupcakes

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Coconut cupcake with coconut frosting, decorated with toasted coconut and a raspberry

These coconut cupcakes are moist and fluffy with a delicious coconut flavor and creamy coconut frosting on top. They’re made with real coconut for a delicious flavor that doesn’t taste artificial. Decorate with toasted coconut for a beautiful cupcake. These will soon be a new favorite.

These coconut cupcakes are light and fluffy with a soft cupcake crumb. The coconut flavor is sweet without being too rich, and while you can definitely taste the coconut, there’s nothing overpowering. The coconut flavor comes from using both shredded coconut and coconut milk in the cupcake batter. Then they’re topped with swirls of creamy coconut frosting and toasted coconut. You’ll love how the fluffy texture of the cupcakes pairs with the tropical coconut flavor.

Getting the Perfect Coconut Flavor

Spoonful of coconut flakes, and spoonful of finely shredded coconut.

As mentioned, the cupcakes use both shredded coconut and coconut milk in the batter. I use finely shredded, sweetened coconut in this recipe (sometimes called desiccated coconut). For the cupcake batter, you want to choose finely shredded coconut because larger flakes will add texture to the cupcakes (which is fine in a carrot cake, but not what I wanted here). If you don’t have finely shredded coconut, you can place coconut flakes in the food processor and give it a few pulses until the coconut is finely shredded.

Can of coconut milk and can of coconut cream.

Then the cupcakes also use coconut milk in the batter. Coconut milk is different than coconut water. Coconut water is commonly round in the drinks aisle of your grocery store and is clear in colour and very watery. Coconut milk, however, is white in color, typically comes in a small can, and is usually found in the import food section of your grocery store. (It’s in the import aisle typically because it’s used in curries). For the frosting, I use coconut cream – which is even thicker than coconut milk and also found in the import food section. I prefer coconut cream for the frosting (instead of coconut milk) because it’s thicker. But coconut milk will work too.

Note: Do not use cream of coconut or coconut syrup (which are often used for cocktails). These are too sweet, thick and syrup-y for this recipe.

Baking Tips & Tricks

Coconut cupcake with a bite taken out, with glass of milk
  • Be sure to use finely shredded coconut in the cupcake batter and not coconut flakes. The finely shredded coconut will behave somewhat like flour, whereas if you use coconut flakes the batter will be too watery with large chunks of coconut. You can pulse coconut flakes in a food processor so that they become more finely shredded. Be sure to measure after pulsing.
  • The butter and eggs should be room temperature before getting started. Take them out of the fridge about 20 minutes prior to getting started.
  • Shake the coconut milk before measuring. There is often a thick layer on top of the can. You want this incorporated into the coconut milk so that it isn’t too water.
  • This recipe yields 12 cupcakes. Be sure to only fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 to 3/4 full. If you only end up with 8 or 9 cupcakes, then you’ve filled the liners too full.
  • I decorated my cupcakes with toasted coconut and a raspberry on top (I like the additional pop of colour from the raspberry). To toast coconut, preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Spread an even layer of coconut onto a cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch carefully – the coconut can go from toasted to burnt very qickly.
Coconut cupcake on a plate with glass of milk

Moist, fluffy and with the perfect coconut flavor, these coconut cupcakes with coconut frosting do not disappoint. And for more cupcake ides, be sure to try:

Coconut cupcakes with coconut frosting, decorated with toasted coconut on a cooling rack

Coconut Cupcakes

These coconut cupcakes are moist and fluffy with a delicious coconut flavor and creamy coconut frosting on top. They're made with real coconut for a delicious flavor that doesn't taste artificial. Decorate with toasted coconut for a beautiful cupcake that will soon be a new favorite. 
Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Cooling: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes
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Equipment

  • 12-cavity muffin pan

Ingredients 

Coconut Cupcakes

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (142 grams)
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded sweetened coconut (40 grams) , AKA desiccated coconut*
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (112 grams)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (150 grams)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (120 ml), shake well before measuring

Coconut Frosting

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (168 grams) , slightly softened, but not starting to melt
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar (330-440 grams) , sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons coconut cream (30-60 ml), coconut milk is OK, but the frosting won't be as thick and the coconut flavor won't be as prominent

Toasted Coconut – Optional, for Decorating

  • 1/4 cup sweetened, shredded coconut (1bout 20 grams)

Instructions 

Coconut Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Line a 12-cavity muffin tin with cupcake papers. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and desiccated coconut. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamed (you should no longer see lumps or pieces of butter).
  • Beat the eggs into the butter mixture one at a time. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl after mixing in each egg.
  • With the mixer on a low speed, beat about 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Then beat in about 1/2 of the coconut milk. Repeat the process, beating in about 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the rest of the coconut milk. Finally, beat in the rest of the flour mixture. Do not overmix the batter. After each addition, stop mixing as soon as everything is incorporated. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Spoon the cupcake batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each muffin cavity about 2/3 full to 3/4 full. You should get about 12 cupcakes.
  • Bake the cupcakes in the middle of the preheated oven for about 19-23 minutes, or until the tops look set and an inserted toothpick comes out clean
  • Cool the cupcakes in the pan for at least 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Coconut Frosting

  • In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth.
  • Add in 2 cups powdered sugar along with the salt. Beat together, starting with the mixer on a low speed.
  • Beat in the rest of the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with a spoonful of coconut cream until the desired sweetness and consistency is reached. It is fine to use the thick coconut cream sitting on the top of the can.
  • Frost the cooled cupcakes, either with a knife or with a piping bag. I used a piping bag with a 1M tip. Optionally, sprinkle with toasted coconut (instructions below). Be sure the toasted coconut is no longer warm before decorating.

Toasted Coconut

  • Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Add the coconut to a cookie sheet so that it's in an even layer.
  • Bake the coconut in the middle of the preheated oven for about 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch carefully as the coconut can burn very quickly.

Notes

  1. Room Temperature Ingredients: Be sure that the butter and eggs are at room temperature before getting started. 
  2. Coconut: Be sure to use finely shredded, sweetened coconut (AKA desiccated coconut) in the cupcake batter. If you only have shredded coconut or coconut flakes, add it to a food processor and pulse for a few seconds. Measure 1/2 cup after pulsing. 
  3. Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk: Both of these ingredients can be found typically in the import section of your grocery. Do not use coconut water. 
  4. Nutrition: Details provided are an estimate only and based on 1 cupcake with frosting and toasted coconut on top, assuming that the recipe yields 12 uniform cupcakes and that all of the frosting is used. 
  5. Storage: Cupcakes are always best fresh. Frosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days. Take the cupcakes out of the fridge about 30 minutes before enjoying to bring them to room temperature. I recommend frosting cupcakes the day you plan to enjoy them. 

Nutrition

Calories: 440kcal, Carbohydrates: 54g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 82mg, Sodium: 129mg, Potassium: 127mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 44g, Vitamin A: 636IU, Vitamin C: 0.2mg, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 1mg
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