Coconut is one of my favorite flavors and – while it is true that I have a lot of favorite flavors! – that means that I have a very hard time walking away from a baked good that contains coconut. It also means that I have eaten a lot of not-so-great coconut baked goods over the years, from cookies that are too dense to cakes that are far too dry, alongside many wonderful coconut goodies. These Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes can be counted among the good ones because they are some of the best coconut cupcakes that I’ve ever eaten. The cupcakes a light and fluffy, with a soft, tender crumb that almost melts in your mouth.
Of course, they are also loaded with plenty of coconut flavor. Not only do they contain a generous amount of shredded coconut, but they are made with coconut milk. I used canned coconut milk, rather than the type sold in cartons, as it is much thicker and richer. The coconut flavor from the milk alone is relatively subtle, but it really enhances the flavor of the cupcakes overall. I used sweetened shredded coconut in these and recommend that you do, too. Unsweetened coconut will work, but the cake itself is not overly sweet and it’s nice to have a touch of additional sweetness in a cupcake. Regardless of which type you use, give the coconut shreds a quick chop with a knife before stirring them into the batter. Shorter shreds are easier to bite into when you’re eating the finished cake.
I topped these with a vanilla cream cheese frosting that is dipped in shredded coconut. Cream cheese frosting is delicious with the coconut cupcakes and the extra shredded coconut not only gives the cupcakes some additional flavor, but it gives them a great look. If you feel like adding a little additional coconut flavor to your frosting, a few drops of coconut extract should do the trick. The cupcakes will keep well for a couple of days after baking when stored in an airtight container, so they can be baked a day or so ahead.
The Best Fluffy Coconut Cupcakes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 cup light coconut milk (from a can)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 batch Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
approx 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (for topping)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together coconut milk, egg and vanilla extract. Pour coconut mixture into the dry ingredients and begin to stir them together. When only a few streaks of dry ingredients remain, stir in shredded coconut. Add butter all at once after the other ingredients have been combined and stir until the butter is completely incorporated. Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 21-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean and the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed.
Turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Combine all ingredients except the sugar in a large bowl and beat until softened. Gradually blend in the confectioners’ sugar until a smooth spreadable frosting forms.
Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes.