Coconut Cupcakes

Coconut to me means spring.  At easter we would get one of those coconut bunny cakes from the supermarket.  You know the ones that were too sweet and had a plastic face of a bunny that was more scary then it was cute.  My mom’s favorite cake was coconut so we tried to get that on mothers day, which was basically the bunny cake in round form.  I wanted to make coconut cupcakes for easter but I could not find a recipe that didn’t make 30+ cupcakes.  I found a basic sponge that I quartered down and used my swiss meringue recipe for the frosting.  They turned out great, not too much coconut flavor but just enough to be pleasant, and have that tropical rich flavor.

Things I didn’t read about while looking up recipes, is how coconut milk reacts to reducing.  Silly me, I thought it would be like milk and just slowly simmer away, and all I would have to look out for is scorching.  Little did I know.  Once it was in the pan on a low simmer to reduce it turned into volcano from a school science fair.  It randomly busted through the thick layer of cream that was forming on top and made a fantastic mess on my stove top.   Better my mistake then yours, I added in all my notes in the recipe.

I hope you will like this recipe.  It is simple, quick, and has relatively few ingredients, and it is easily doubled but this made just the right amount. I have started to work batters down to making small or test batches resulting in only having 6-8 cupcakes or two small 6″ cake rounds. Also worked down frostings for 6-8 cupcakes or a small double layer 6″ cake round. I mean, we all love our sweets but we don’t always need a 8″-9″ triple layer cake or two dozen cupcakes.

Coconut Cupcakes
Makes 6-8 Cupcakes

  • 4 tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 c Sugar
  • 1/8 c Vanilla Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 c Self Rising Flour
  • 1/4 c Coconut Milk  (post reduction, see below)
  • 1/8 c Shredded Coconut (optional)

In a small sauce pan over low heat, add 1/2 cup of coconut milk.  Using a silicone spatula constantly stir until reduced by half.  Turn off heat and let cool.  It will begin to look like a thick custard when it is done and cooling.  Note: If you leave it unattended it will simmer below the surface and break through and splash out of the pan. So, keep stirring. 

Preheat oven to 350°F, and prepare your cupcake tin with liners.

In a stand mixer combine sugars and butter and whisk until light and fluffy.  Once it is pale and fluffy, add in the egg.  Scrape down sides and add in the coconut milk, mix until incorporated and add in flour mixing until just combined.  If you chose to add it in, fold in the shredded coconut into the batter.  Pour into prepared cupcake tin and bake for 15-20 min until toothpick inserted comes out clean, but do not open the oven prior to 15 minutes cooking time to get a nice puffy dome.

Vanilla Swiss Buttercream (test size)

  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1/4 c Sugar
  • 1/8 c Vanilla Sugar
  • 10 tbsp Unsalted Butter, room tempature
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Place a small sauce pan with an inch of water over medium low heat and set to simmer.  In a heat proof bowl add the egg whites and a pinch of salt. Whisk vigorously until all the whites are broken up. Add in the sugars and place over a pot of simmering water. Whisk the mixture consistently while heating. The mixture will become thick and take on a creamy color. At this stage if it appears as the sugar has dissolved, touch the egg mixture and rub between your fingers. If it feels smooth it is done. If you feel even a slight gritty texture keep whisking and every 30 seconds feel and check the mixture until smooth when rubbed between your fingers.

Transfer the egg mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the egg mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 10 minutes.  Make sure the bowl is cool before adding the butter or you will make soup not frosting.

Reduce to medium and add the butter, a tablespoon at a time. Continue adding the butter once each addition has been incorporated. After the last piece of butter has been added around 30 seconds later the mixture will look like soup, then it will look separated or curdled, it is almost there, don’t get discouraged. Continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth, it will come back together, promise. It takes around another 3-5 minutes for it to come back together. Add in the vanilla and mix just until incorporated.   Taste, if you feel the need add sifted powdered sugar to sweeten.

Spoon into a piping bag or spread directly on cupcakes.  Decorate with toasted coconut for texture and color.

Adapted: Cake: Paula Dean  // Frosting


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