Coconut Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Coconut Cupcakes

These coconut cupcakes feature reduced coconut milk in the batter, which gives them an extra flavor boost. You have to start with two cans of unsweetened coconut milk – not cream of coconut, which is largely sugar. Check the Asian section of a well-stocked supermarket. To enhance the pretty white nature of the cupcakes, we chose white paper liners, but you could use any color or design you like. Like most cupcakes, these are best eaten the day they are baked, although they will hold overnight.

Image: Peter Muka

Coconut Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
Makes: Makes 18 cupcakes
  • 2, 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 batch Italian Meringue Buttercream, vanilla variation, ready to use
  • Pastry bag
  • Wilton 1M tip
  • 4½ cups sweetened long-shred coconut (from one, 14-ounce bag)
  1. For the Cake: Pour the two cans of coconut milk into a wide saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and reduce to about 2⅓ cups (you will be starting with 3⅓ cups), whisking occasionally. This might take up to 20 minutes. Cool.
  2. Position rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 18 cupcake pan wells with paper liners. Coat the tops of the pans lightly with nonstick spray.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl to combine and aerate; set aside. Whisk together the egg whites and cooled coconut milk in a small bowl; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in vanilla.
  5. Add the flour mixture in four additions, alternating with the egg white/milk mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Divide batter evenly in pans; we liked to use a large ice cream scoop to get the batter into the tins.
  6. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick shows a few moist crumbs. The cake will be tinged with light golden brown around the edges and the top.
  7. Cool pans on racks for about 10 minutes. Unmold onto rack, placing right side up, and cool completely before frosting.
  8. For the Frosting and Assembly: Make sure buttercream is ready to go. It should be very soft - almost like mayonnaise. Scrape buttercream into pastry bag fitted with tip and pipe nice large rosettes on each cupcake. Place coconut in a large bowl. Pick up cupcakes one by one and hold over bowl. Scoop up coconut with other hand and gently press generously all over buttercream. Cupcakes are now ready to serve. May be stored overnight at cool room temperature under a cake dome.

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