Perfect Coconut Cupcakes

By • May 13, 2013 16 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a white coconut cupcake that's moist and not too sweet, with just the perfect amount of coconut flavor. There's a nice textural contrast with the shredded coconut in the cake. The lime juice and/or zest is a great pairing with the coconut, and makes it feel a little more summery and tropical, but I like the clean coconut flavor myself. It's a hit even with people who aren't big fans of coconut -- it's that delicate of a flavor!

Note: If you don't have cake flour, you can make some yourself with all-purpose flour and cornstarch. For every cup of flour, take out two tablespoons and replace with cornstarch. Sift together very well - at least 4 to 5 times! You want the cornstarch to be well incorporated and the flour to be very well aerated.

Food52 Review: These coconut cupcakes are truly perfect for anyone who loves the subtle taste of coconut. I also omitted the lime juice and lime zest, and didn't find the coconut overwhelming at all -- if anything, I would add more coconut! The incredibly light and fluffy cupcake is topped with a lusciously smooth swiss meringue buttercream that is not overly sweet and complements the cupcake amazingly. To give it an extra textural element and nuttiness, I topped these cupcakes with some toasted coconut.Foodie First Student Later


Makes 21 to 24 cupcakes

White Coconut Cupcakes

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour (see note)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (optional)
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • Zest of one lime (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
  2. Sift the cake flour into a large bowl (or into the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one). Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir gently to combine. With the mixer on low, add butter cubes a few at a time and beat until you have a sandy, coarse texture.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, coconut milk, shredded coconut, and vanilla (and lime juice, if using). Add half of the mixture to the dry ingredients and beat on medium-high speed until well combined, about a minute. Add the remaining wet mixture and then beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 30 seconds.
  4. Scoop batter evenly into the liners so they're about 2/3 full (I use a quarter cup measuring cup and that's usually about right). Bake for 18 minutes, or until they spring under your fingertips when pressed lightly. Allow to cool in the pans slightly before transferring baked cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.
  5. To make the frosting, add egg whites and sugar into a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer if you have one) and whisk to combine. Set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved -- about 6 to 8 minutes. If you rub a little bit between your fingers, it shouldn't feel grainy to the touch.
  6. Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer (with a whisk attachment) if you have one, or else set on a towel on your counter, and start whipping. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is a fluffy meringue and the bowl is cool to the touch (6 to 8 minutes if using a stand mixer, 10 to 15 if using a hand mixer).
  7. With the mixer on low, start adding butter cubes one at a time until they've all been added to the meringue. Increase the speed back to medium-high and continue beating until butter is fully incorporated, smooth, and fluffy (don't worry if it looks curdled - more beating will bring it together!).
  8. Slowly add the coconut milk, vanilla and salt to the meringue and beat on medium-high speed until the coconut milk is incorporated and the mixture is once again fluffy and smooth. It'll take some time to reconstitute itself, so be patient!
  9. To frost, transfer frosting to a piping bag with a decorative tip (or a ziplock with the corner cut out; or smear some on with a knife) and pipe onto each cupcake. You can store these at room temp for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.

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