Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Eating a cupcake brings out the kid in all of us. It’s like having your very own little cake that you don’t have to share with anyone. Topped with a thick layer of luscious cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with toasted coconut, these coconut cupcakes have a tender, moist crumb that literally melts in your mouth.
For the cupcakes:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup sweetened dried coconut flakes
For the frosting:
- 1/2 cup sweetened dried coconut flakes
- 6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
To make the cupcakes, preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium-high speed, beat together the sugar and butter until the mixture is light in texture, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the coconut milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and scraping down the bowl as needed, beating just until smooth.
In another bowl, using the mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir one-fourth of the whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites, leaving some whites visible. Gently fold in the coconut flakes. Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin cups, filling them about three-fourths full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out of the pan onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Leave the oven on.
To make the frosting, spread the coconut flakes on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely. In a bowl, using the mixer on low speed, beat together the cream cheese, butter, lemon juice and vanilla. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until the icing is smooth. Spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes, dividing it equally. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut, then serve. Makes 12 cupcakes.
Variation: For coconut layer cake, divide the batter between 2 buttered and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pans, about 25 minutes. Make a double batch of the frosting and assemble and frost the cake. Garnish with 1 cup toasted dried coconut flakes.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).