Chocolate & Coconut Cream Cupcakes

My days as a morning person are numbered.  Every year about this time, when the overnight temperature starts to drop and it’s still dark in the morning when I get out of bed – that’s about the time I that stop jumping up  eager to face the day.
My girls are the same way, it seems.  My mornings are slowly shifting from wide-eyed, happy, smiling little girls to grumpy, piddling, sleepy-heads who have to be prodded along every step of the way.
By the time we get dressed, brush teeth and fix hair, it seems like we have rush through breakfast.  It doesn’t matter how early we get up.  Having learned my lesson, I’ve stopped asking them what they want for breakfast, I just put it in front of them.  And most mornings, that works.
But this morning?  Nope.  A pumpkin cream cheese muffin, banana and a glass of milk are apparently the recipe for tears and temper-tantrums.
She wanted spaghetti.  Seriously.  Then she told me she was tired of “pumpkin cupcakes” and wanted to know if we had any more of those “coconut cupcakes.”

In case you’re wondering, trying to explain the difference between a cupcake and a muffin to a cranky six year old at 7:15 am doesn’t work.

I understand why she requested them, though.  These are Madeline’s favorite cupcakes.  They meet all of her criteria – they aren’t filled, they’re chocolate, and they are smothered in coconut.  She LOVES them.

I can’t really blame her, I love this recipe too – the cake is amazing and the cream cheese and coconut combo is fantastic.  You can’t tell from these pictures, but I also added some white chocolate chips to the batter.  While they were pretty, I’m not sure if I’ll do it again.  Maybe it’s just because I’m not a huge white chocolate fan.  I’ve omitted it from the recipe, but if you’re feeling white chocolate-y, just stir about six or eight ounces into the batter before baking.

I’m hoping our school-morning battles work themselves out soon.  I think I’m going to include the girls in my weekly breakfast meal planning so they can “own” the decisions we make.  I’ve got an amazing baked oatmeal recipe that I’ve been dying to share with you, so keep an eye out for that.

Hope you enjoy these cupcakes.  Don’t eat them for breakfast.

Cake Ingredients:


  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch Process)
  • 2 ounces high-quality milk chocolate (such as Lindt, Perugina, or Valrhona), chopped
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 and 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F.  Prepare cupcake tins with paper liners.  Combine cocoa powder and milk chocolate in medium bowl. Pour boiling water over; whisk until mixture is smooth. Whisk in buttermilk.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars, oil, egg, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add flour and cocoa mixtures; beat until blended (batter will be thin). Divide batter between pans. 

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out with some crumbs attached, 15-20 minutes. Cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes. Let cool completely before filling with Ganache.

Whipped Ganache Filling Ingredients:



  • 1 bag (12oz) Milk Chocolate Chips
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream



In a medium bowl, microwave whipping cream for 1 minute or until steaming but not boiling.  Pour chocolate chips into cream, and whisk until smooth.  Set aside or refrigerate to cool.  Once cool, use a hand mixer to whip until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Scoop chocolate into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip.  Force tip into top of cupcake and squeeze lightly until ganache “bubbles” back out of the top of the cake.  Do not squeeze too hard or too fast, or your cupcake will explode.  Trust me on that one.  =)

Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 4-5 cups powdered/confectioners sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 cup (or more if needed) sweetened flaked coconut for garnish

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add confectioners sugar, whipping cream, coconut extract and vanilla extract.  Beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  If frosting is not “stiff” enough to pipe or frost with, add more confectioners sugar, a 1/2 cup at a time until desired consistency is met.  Scoop into a piping bag and frost cooled cupcakes as desired.  Place coconut flakes in a small bowl, and gently press the frosting into the flakes for garnish.

Store in the refrigerator until 30 minutes prior to serving.  

Recipe Inspiration:  Your Cup of Cake

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