Like mini golden pound cakes, these very special cupcakes just burst with coconut flavor and a delicious crumb. They were so good, even our most hardened frosting-only lovers gobbled them up. The frosting, if I say so myself, is a novel recipe. My goal was to make a very creamy frosting using coconut oil, with a result that is stable and not greasy at all. Our tester, a longtime pastry chef and baking instructor, was worried. But with a little tweaking, it worked. It really, really worked. Make sure to buy three cans of coconut cream (not sweetened coconut cream or coconut milk) and let those cupcakes cool completely before you frost.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with cupcake liners.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl and set aside.
Pour the coconut oil into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the coconut oil and mix for 2 to 3 minutes at medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar and mix for 2 to 3 minutes at medium speed until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, add the eggs one at time, and mix until completely incorporated and beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl again, add the vanilla, and mix for a few seconds—just until combined.
Add one-third of the flour mixture, then one-half of the coconut cream, and mix until just incorporated. Repeat, alternating between the flour and coconut cream, and beating between each addition, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and only mixing until just incorporated. Do not over mix or the cupcakes will come out tough.
Fill the cupcake liners with about ⅓ cup of batter. Bake for 20 to 22, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake just comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, or until cool enough to handle comfortably. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and place them on the rack to cool completely.
Coconut Truffle Frosting
Make an ice bath by placing a medium-sized mixing bowl over a larger bowl of ice, making sure the ice doesn’t touch the inner bowl. Place a fine-mesh strainer over the inner bowl and set aside.
When you open the coconut cream cans for the frosting, even at room temperature, you will notice that the thickest cream will have risen to the top. Scoop out this thickest cream and place in a measuring cup. You can reserve the small amount of thinner milk and use it in any recipe that calls for for coconut milk. Scoop the cream until you have 2 cups. Add this scooped coconut cream to a medium-sized saucepan, set over medium-low heat, bring to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. The cream will thin out a bit first, and then thicken as it reduces in volume. Add ¼ cup of the coconut oil and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the oil melts completely and is incorporated.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, tapioca starch, corn syrup, and salt together for about 1 minute, until the mixture is pale yellow. While whisking the egg mixture vigorously, very carefully drizzle the warm coconut cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, then pour the whole thing mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spoon for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture just thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla bean paste. Strain this pastry cream through the waiting fine-mesh sieve.
Stir the strained mixture periodically as it cools over the ice bath. When it reaches room temperature, gently place with a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until completely chilled.
Place the chilled mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment and whip the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes or just until air is incorporated and the mixture gets fluffy. While mixing, add the remaining coconut oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is stiff enough to hold its shape.
Frost the cooled cupcakes, then top with the toasted coconut or other sprinkles.