Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes AKA Tropical Easter Cupcakes

I have a certain fondness for tropical things to eat like pineapples, mangoes, guavas, passion fruit, coconut, macadamia nuts etc. Maybe even borderline obsession. And I love using these ingredients when baking besides just eating in their natural state. I just have a fondness for basically everything tropical ( hence the blog background) particularly anything to do with Hawaii. Again another borderline obsession. When I was pregnant with my first daughter her nickname was "Pineapple" since we didn't reveal  her name until she was born. So naturally our second daughter on the way ( Due beginning of July) had to have a similar nickname. What goes good with Pineapple? Coconut. My first pregnancy I consumed A LOT of pineapple. I was growing a pineapple so I needed to feed the pineapple. Ha. So this time I am all about the coconut. From coconut water, to coconut flavored foods, using coconut oil to cook with etc. So when a friend sent me a picture of 
COCONUT M&Ms!!! I was allll over it. However they weren't that easy to find. So pulling my pregnancy card I sent the hubby out searching one night after work. No luck. He went again the next night on his way home and at the 4th place JACKPOT. He brought me 5 bags. I limited myself to one a day. One bag not one M&M. Lets get real. I am not a big fan of candy or chocolate in general but I make an exception when there is coconut involved. I had posted about my new found love on Facebook and a friend who is a big fan and personal taste tester of my cupcakes suggested why not make a cupcake based on these. And why not?? I searched the internet for a chocolate cupcake recipe, found one. I had an idea to fill it with a coconut cream. Already had a recipe for vanilla cream filling so I modified. And I found a recipe for a coconut italian meringue buttercream. Add some toasted coconut and a few of the M&M's and we have a damn good cupcake. Quite possibly my personal favorite out of all that I have made so far.

This is the best brand of coconut milk in my opinion. It is not "LITE". The flavor is rich and creamy and so great for baking. This can be found in most grocery stores in the Asian sections or specialty Asian grocery stores.

The dry ingredients are sifted together so I measured out into my sifter and then, well, sifted. Except the salt. I did that once and had to take the whole thing apart to get all the salt out. Pain in my ass. 

All sifted together

All the ingredients ready to go. Dry ingredients, coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, coconut extract, sour cream, farm fresh egg and butter. Everything is better with butter right?

This batter had this aroma that was a perfect blend of chocolate and coconut.

They smelled even better fresh out of the oven. I like the way they looked too the cracks were cool and they all had just a slight dome. Sometimes the cupcakes are too poofy for a nice swirl of frosting and sometimes they are too flat. These were just right.

Ingredients set out for the coconut cream filling

Coconut milk and flour mixture thickened and soon to be mashed through a strainer

The flour and milk mixture is very thick but makes for an awesome consistency of the filling

The butter and sugar is whipped up til light and fluffy

Add in the flour milk blob

after about 7 minutes of whipping on high you get this light fluffy cream filling

in a piping bag with the bismark filling tip ready to go

These cupcakes were denser than usual so I think here I should have used my apple corer to cut out a hole and fill every cupcake evenly because I filled through the bottom of the cupcakes on some

And blew the lid off the sides of some of the cupcakes. OOPS!

I toast my coconut (sweetened flaked) on a pan on the stove. Too many times I have toasted it in the oven and forgotten about it and its burnt! Plus once it starts turning brown I stir it frequently for even toasting.

Coconut Italian meringue buttercream. OMG. YUM.

I am really impressed with the perfectly round frosting blobs that I have seen before like on these billiard cupcakes on Flickr and on the cupcakes at this cupcake shop in my hometown that several friends have been to and loved, Whodidly Cupcakes. As you can see from my pathetic attempt, they look nothing like the ones I loved and wanted to copy. So scrape off the frosting and take two.

So instead of my giant round plain tip I switched to this one from Ateco

Much prettier right?

With the toasted coconut

I love how dark the cupcake is against the coconut frosting and flakes
And with the coconut M&Ms. These ones I hope are not a seasonal item but one that is here to stay. They only come in the three colors in the bags and they have palm trees, umbrellas and hibiscus flowers printed on them. I tried to get a close up but it was really hard to get a non blurry pic. So cute!!

Chocolate Coconut Cupcake Recipe
Adapted from Baking Obsession

Chocolate coconut cupcakes recipe 
Makes 12 regular-sized cupcakes or 24 mini ones

For the cupcakes:
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 160 ml (small can) unsweetened coconut milk (light is ok)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp natural coconut extract
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted (optional)

Make the cupcakes:
Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F. Fit parchment liners into cupcake molds. Spray the liners lightly with oil spray.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper or into a bowl. In another bowl, combine the sour cream, coconut milk, and extracts.
In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few seconds, until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add the egg and beat well. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the sour cream-coconut milk mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the bowl as necessary, and beat only enough to incorporate the ingredients after each addition. Stir in the toasted coconut if using.
Transfer the cupcake batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe the batter into the prepared molds filling them about ¾-full. Or you can use a spoon.
Bake the cupcakes for about 18 to 20 minutes, until puffed and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for 5 minutes on a cooling rack, then unmold and cool completely on the rack before frosting.
To frost the cupcakes, transfer the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a rosette over the top of each cupcake. Refrigerate to firm up the frosting. Remove the cupcakes from the fridge 30 minutes prior the serving time. The cupcakes can be made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

Coconut Cream Filling Recipe
Adapted from my vanilla cream filling recipe

Coconut Cream Filling

3 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup butter room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp coconut extract

Whisk together the flour and milk and cook in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick. This will only take a few minutes. Sir continuously to prevent the mixture from clumping and do not bring all the way to a boil. When thickened (consistency will be that of a thin pudding or custard), strain with a mesh strainer into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely to room temperature.
When the milk mixture is cool, cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl until light. Add in the milk/flour mixture and the scraped vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla extract) and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, or a large ziplock bag with the corner cut off, and set aside until ready to fill your cupcakes.

Coconut Italian Meringue Buttercream Recipe
adapted from Slow Like Honey

Coconut Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Yield: makes about 5 cups
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tsp coconut extract

Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment so they are all ready to
Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring to dissolve
the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 238
degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Beat the egg whites at medium speed until froth. Continue beating while gradually adding the hot syrup
in a slow stream, taking care to avoid hitting beaters or the syrup may splatter. When all the syrup has
been added, raise the speed to medium-high and continue to whip until the mixture is very fluffy and
has cooled to body temperature.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the butter, several tablespoons at a time, and continue to
beat until a smooth, fluffy frosting forms. As you beat the butter, the mixture will appear to curdle and
break, but don't worry. It will come together in a few minutes, and will turn in to a whipped smooth
Add the coconut milk in several additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well after each addition.
Add the coconut extract and mix until smooth.

Some with the M&M's. Some with out. A friend said the ones with look like they could be Easter cupcakes so I said, "Tropical Easter Cupcakes!!" 


  1. was wondering if you posted the vanilla cream filling on the blog? And if so where is it? I am looking for a good vanilla cream filling recipe! Thanks!

  2. Just sub whole milk for the coconut milk and vanilla extract for the coconut. Same directions as the coconut filling. I adapted this from my vanilla filling recipe.