Toasted Coconut Cupcakes

I am definitely a chocolate person. Except for the occasional carrot cake, I will almost always choose chocolate over any other cake flavor.  Vanilla cakes are just so…vanilla.

I am trying, though.  I am trying to like vanilla-based cakes.  I’ve made several of them for this blog, in fact.  Yet, I’m still on a mission to find the perfect “white” cake…one that will make me change my mind – the one that will end my love affair with chocolate.  My wedding cake is, so far, the only white cake that I can say I absolutely LOVED.  I’ve got to figure out how she made it – it was moist, tender, full of real vanilla…really, really fantastic.  (In retrospect, I have to wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that I dieted like crazy before my wedding and probably hadn’t eaten any dessert at all since the moment we got engaged?  Hmm.)

All that being said, I do have to admit that I really enjoyed this recipe.  Believe it or not, I think this is the first time I’ve used Martha Stewart’s yellow cake recipe, and it was definitely a winner.  I wanted a mild cake so the coconut flavor wouldn’t be overpowered, and it worked perfectly.  I used coconut flavoring oil, which I purchased at my local baking shop.  You can also use coconut extract (which is more readily available in grocery stores) but you might have to adjust the quantity to get the right flavor.

The frosting for this cupcake is what really speaks to me.  This is really just a standard buttercream frosting, but whipping it is what sets it apart.  Buttercream can be very sweet and sugary, but if you add whipping cream and beat the heck out of it, it transforms to become light and airy.  The cream helps to diminish the sweetness and gives it a wonderful texture, leaving you with a buttery, coconutty (if that’s a word) pillow of frosting.

And then, the sugared, toasted coconut…talk about a quick, easy and impressive garnish.  Toasting coconut helps to bring out the oils and soften it – the flavor warms up and it takes on a nutty characteristic – it’s fabulous.  Once you take it off the stove top, be generous with the sugar.  The oils allow the sugar to stick and essentially create a candied coconut.  I can’t even tell you what a wonderful combination this is.  If you love coconut – you must, must, must make this.

If you’re feeling extra ambitious, this cupcake would be wonderful with a coconut cream filling.  Simply cut a core out of the top of the cupcake, drop a spoonful of filling into the middle of the cupcake and replace the core – then frost as usual.

Give this one a try, and enjoy!

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Toasted Coconut Cupcake with Coconut Buttercream
Yield:  22 cupcakes
Prep Time:  30-40 minutes ♦ Bake Time:  20 minutes

Cake Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon coconut oil or coconut extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).  Prepare cupcake tins with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.   In a measuring cup, combine the milk, coconut oil and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about 4 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Then, with the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture.  Beat until just moistened and combined.  Add the milk, coconut oil and vanilla, beat until just combined, then add the remaining flour mixture.  Beat just until moist, do not over-beat.

Using an ice-cream scoop, fill the cupcake wells 1/2 to 2/3 full.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean and the cupcakes are just starting to turn golden brown.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then move to a wire rack to completely cool before frosting.

Coconut Buttercream
1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
3 and 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon coconut oil or coconut extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add confectioners sugar, vanilla, whipping cream and coconut oil, and slowly beat to incorporate.  Turn mixer to medium-high and beat until frosting becomes fluffy – 5-6 minutes.  Taste, and add more coconut flavoring if desired.  Frost cupcakes.

Toasted & Sugared Coconut Garnish
3.5 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a medium, non-stick skillet, separate coconut flakes with a wooden spoon.  Heat the coconut over medium-high heat, using a wooden spoon to keep the flakes moving and separate large chunks.  Stir and move the coconut continuously until the flakes start to toast and turn a light golden brown.

Remove from heat and place coconut in a small bowl.  Add sugar to toasted coconut and toss to coat.  Press a generous helping of coconut into the buttercream of the frosted cupcakes.


Source:  Cupcakes adapted from Martha Stewart.  Frosting and Garnish are LS originals.

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  • Elizabeth King

    I might get in trouble for saying this but I’m not much of a chocolate lover…Okay now that I got that off my chest I have to say that I’m more of a vanilla lover and coconut. So this recipe looks really good right about now…lol

    I think I’ll print this recipe out and try it out, but first I need to go shopping for some ingredients. ^_^

  • Harpa J

    They look fabulous! Will try as soon as I get my hands on some coconut (I live in a really small village…)

  • Erin @ Lemon Sugar

    Thanks Harpa! You’re in Iceland? I could ship you some!

  • Alicia @ Bakeaholic

    These look so delicious. I love coconut – they look great! I will definitely be making these for two upcoming baby showers!