I used to HATE coconut. Something about its texture grossed me out. I’ve come to accept it over time (or, actually, adapted in a way – I think unsweetened flaked coconut has not only a better flavor but is also a more pleasant texture) but when this recipe was born it was out of my craving for coconut cupcakes. Strange, I know. I loved coconut flavored hard candy, fabulously, gently and tropically sweet, but without the fibrous grain of shredded coconut—but I wanted them in cupcake form because, well, I wanted cupcakes. Unfortunately, most coconut cupcakes use shredded coconut or liquid coconut flavoring/extract to give them their flavor. Sorry, but no thanks. So after some trial and error I came up with this and couldn’t be happier. They’re light as a cloud, all the while staying moist and full of flavor. Whatever you do, DO NOT use that sweetened coconut cream you’d use for pina coladas – its too thick and dense and you end up with very dense, flat, unset cupcakes. I speak from experience. —David Rash
For the cupcakes
unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups
canned coconut milk (NOT sweetened coconut cream)
Preheat oven to 350° and line a cupcake tin with paper cupcake liners.
In a stand up mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter slightly. Add the sugar and cream until fluffy. Scrape the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with a whisk until they are foamy and frothy – you’re not looking for peaks here by any means, you just want to get them foamed and ready to accept more air.
Pour the whites into the mixing bowl and mix on low for about 2 minutes. At first it will look like the butter is almost curdled and will never incorporate homogenously into the whites but be patient. In about a minute or two it will all come together instantly and almost flawlessly, resembling the glossiest and most heavenly meringue.
Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the coconut milk and extracts in a liquid measuring cup.
Alternating between wet and dry, add a third of the dry to the mix, beat to just begin to combine before adding a third of the liquid. Repeat this twice more, beating only just until everything is combined and STOP. Over beating will give you tough cupcakes and these should be like little pillowy clouds of coconuty perfection.
Using a 2.5oz spring-loaded ice cream scoop (roughly 2-1/2” diameter), scoop into the cupcake tin, and bake for 20 – 22 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean when poked in the center of the cupcake.
Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin until its cool enough to handle. Remove the cupcakes to a wire cooling wrack and allow them to cool completely and utterly.
For the icing & garnish
In a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium, until combined. Scrape down the sides and beat in the extracts until the icing is fluffy.
Slather each cupcake with the icing and sprinkle on a generous amount of unsweetened coconut flakes.