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Coconut cupcakes are soft, fluffy cupcakes (I provide a both a from-scratch recipe and the option to use a box-mix!), topped off with a cream cheese based coconut buttercream frosting and then sprinkled with lightly toasted coconut!
How to Make Coconut Cupcakes
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I’m sure that pumpkin spice flavored everything is about to start rolling out at any moment now, but right now I’m taking the time to enjoy more tropical, summery flavors. I’m currently obsessed with fresh fruit, pineapple upside-down cake, and, especially, coconut. Particularly in the form of these easy coconut cupcakes.
For this recipe, I use coconut milk in the actual cupcakes, as well as in the frosting. A small amount of coconut extract is added for the strongest coconut flavor, and everything is topped off with shredded coconut. I prefer mine slightly toasted for a slight texture crunch against the creamy frosting and soft fluffy cupcake.
These coconut cupcakes have quickly become one of my new favorite cupcakes (right next to my chocolate cupcakes or even lemon zucchini cupcakes). You can use a white or vanilla box mix if you are in a rush, but be sure to add a half teaspoon of coconut extract into the batter before portioning it into your cupcake tins.
If you’re not in a rush, I highly recommend following my recipe for from-scratch coconut cupcake bases – it calls for coconut milk mixed with lemon juice, which serves nearly the same function as buttermilk and helps to make the cupcake bases extra light and fluffy.
If you are making your coconut cupcakes completely from scratch, do make sure to use all room-temperature ingredients and do not over-mix your ingredients – I always fold the wet ingredients into the dry by hand using a spatula rather than an electric mixer to ensure that they are not over-mixed, otherwise they may come out too dense or dry after baking. When baking, make sure not to over-bake – when testing for doneness, insert a toothpick in the center. It should come out with a few moist crumbs once the coconut cupcakes are finished baking.
Make them and let me know what you think!
- 1/2 cup coconut milk room temperature
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter softened
- 3 oz cream cheese softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons coconut milk may substitute regular milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract
- Toasted coconut for sprinkling on top optional
Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners.
Combine coconut milk and lemon juice in a large measuring glass and set aside.
In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together butter, oil, and sugar until ingredients are well-combined.
Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.
Stir in vanilla extract.
In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Gradually alternate adding coconut milk/lemon juice mixture and flour mixture until all ingredients are combined (TAKE CARE NOT TO OVER-MIX!).
Evenly divide cupcake batter into prepared muffin tin.
Bake on 350F for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Allow cupcakes to cool completely before covering with frosting.
In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth.
Gradually add powdered sugar, until combined.
Add coconut milk until desired consistency is reached (don’t add too much milk or it will be too soft to pipe onto your cupcakes).
Stir in vanilla extract and coconut extract.
Pipe or spread frosting onto completely cooled cupcakes.
Sprinkle with toasted coconut (optional). Enjoy!
*You may substitute a box recipe for the cupcakes — Prepare according to instructions on box except stir in 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract before portioning into cupcake liners. A standard box-mix makes enough for 24 cupcakes so you will have to double the amount of frosting in order to have enough.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)
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