For a long time, I was totally ambivalent about coconut. I could take or leave it. Most times, I left it in favor of things like chocolate and cheesecake. Over the last few years, however, I’ve begun to really appreciate the flavor of coconut.
The transformation started with coconut cream pie a couple of years ago, then picked up some steam with the coconut cake that I made last year, and I became a full-fledged coconut worshipper when I made the toasted coconut dark chocolate chunk ice cream last summer. While I’m a total chocolate devotee, I would have eaten that ice cream even if it didn’t have chocolate, which is a serious statement coming from this girl.
I tend to crave coconut-flavored dishes once the weather starts to warm up, which means I’m always itching to make something coconut-related once Easter rolls around. Since I already had a coconut cake under my belt, I wanted to experiment with coconut cupcakes.
These cupcakes are a coconut lover’s dream. There are layers upon layers of coconut flavor built on top of one another. The cupcakes themselves have both ground sweetened coconut and coconut milk in them, and they would be actually be perfect as-is with a dollop of whipped cream on top. However, my frosting-loving self can’t just stop at cupcakes, so frosting it was! I whipped up my favorite vanilla frosting and added some coconut extract; it’s a perfectly light and clean-tasting frosting. Not too heavy and definitely not too sugary.
Since we’re closing in on Easter, I decided to do a festive little decoration with toasted coconut to look like nests and topped the cupcakes with Whoppers Robin Eggs. If you’re not making these for a holiday, you could simply do the toasted coconut, or big flakes of unsweetened coconut to garnish.
I urge you to make these for Easter or simply the next time you need an easy, pretty dessert.
If you’re even the smallest fan of coconut, you will absolutely love these cupcakes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Pulse the shredded coconut in a food processor until finely ground and whisk into the flour mixture; set aside.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, egg white and vanilla extract and beat until completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of coconut milk, and beating until combined after each.
Divide the batter evenly between the lined cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla and coconut extracts, mixing until incorporated. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
Garnish the Cupcakes: Using an offset spatula, spread a mound of frosting on top of each cupcake and create a well in the center. Place the toasted coconut in a shallow bowl. Roll the sides of the cupcake in the toasted coconut, then top with a few Robin's Eggs malted milk balls. The cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.