I was late to the coconut game. My three-year-old clearly takes after me, because as of right now her only reaction to coconut is, “so gross!”. I guess that means that, like my mom before me, I can look forward to getting all of her Almond Joy’s from her Halloween candy. Maybe there’s a taste bud switch that flips once we reach adulthood, because I have done a complete 180° on coconut. I love it’s sweetness, flavor, and crunch in just about any baked good, but especially in these light-as-air coconut cupcakes with a creamy coconut frosting. They’ll take you right to a tropical beach, no plane ticket or floppy sun hat required.
I’ve been thinking about these cupcakes since I made a lazy daisy cake a few months back. The crunchy, buttery coconut topping on that simple cake made me appreciate all over again how great shredded coconut can be in baked goods. After playing around with a bunch of ideas, I landed on these sweet and simple cupcakes, because most of the time simple is best.
The cupcakes themselves are yellow cake made with coconut milk and coconut extract, and some shredded coconut mixed in for sweetness and a little crunch. The frosting is an easy American buttercream, with more coconut extract and coconut milk mixed in. The end result is a delicate, beautiful cupcake full of all kinds of coconut flavor. It’s what I’d imagine serving at a garden party if I lived in the tropics.
A few recipe notes:
- Fill the cupcake liners (or the cupcake pan) only 3/4 of the way full. This means that you may have batter for a few extra cupcakes (yay!).
- I used the standard thinly shredded sweetened coconut in the cupcake batter. The garnish on top is the fancier kind that you can buy at higher end grocery stores. I used it because I like the way it looks, but you can use the regular kind for the topping, or leave it off altogether.
- The cupcake batter recipe is adapted from this one over at The Brown Eyed Baker.
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ sticks butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract
- ¾ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup sweetened, shredded coconut, plus more for decorating
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons coconut extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and either grease a muffin pan or line it with cupcake liners.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the butter to a large mixing bowl. With a hand mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat 1 or 2 minutes more, until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute between each addition. Add the coconut extract and mix to combine.
- Add half of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Repeat with the coconut milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Add in the shredded coconut and mix by hand until combined.
- Fill the muffin pan or cupcake liners about ¾ of the way full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then remove and let cool completely on a cooling rack. If you have extra batter, you can make another small batch.
- While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. Add the butter to a large bowl and, using a hand mixer, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing on medium-high speed until combined. Add the coconut milk and coconut extract and beat until light and fluffy.
- Frost the cooled cupcakes, top with extra shredded coconut if desired, and serve.