Coconut cupcakes

Baking has always been a stress relieving activity.  The discipline and precision is what I find very soothing.  When I cook, I have the ability to freestyle.  Because I cook so often during the week, I find the exactness of baking (because I do it so infrequently), is very peaceful.

These days, I have been trying to focus most of my free time toward my personal fitness.  While it isn’t exactly the stress free activity baking is, the dopamine levels I can achieve feel almost immeasurable.  I feel like a total bad ass after a solid HIIT workout or after I’ve run farther than I’ve ever gone before.

I got a friendly reminder last week from my work family that they miss my stress relieving cupcakes.  I have to admit, it has been several months since I’ve brought any treats in.  A favorite in the office are my Elvis cupcakes.  I wanted to throw it way back and bring in coconut cupcakes which were the reigning favorite of a team I was on almost six years ago.


Coconut Cupcakes (recipe adapted from Ina Garten)


  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner no more than 3/4 to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.


One word of warning, you can probably scale back the amount of frosting you make.  I stretch this recipe out to 24 cupcakes instead of the 18 to 20 Ina suggests.  I modified the cupcake recipe above to fill the liners 3/4 vs. to the top.  They run over the liners considerably, so beware or you may end up with overflowing batter in the baking process.  Even with the additional cupcakes, I always end up with about 2-3 cups of extra frosting.  If you really love frosting and want the extra, then I say go for it!  Otherwise, it might be wise to have something else you can frost handy.  I just hate waste.

These have been a favorite of mine for years, which is especially shocking since I despise most coconut desserts. They’re definitely not for the faint of heart.  It seems to have more sugar and more butter than any other cupcake I’ve made before, but leave it to Queen Ina to bring the force. They’re pretty simple to make, so I’d encourage everyone to give it a try.  Your family, friends, and coworkers will thank you.

2 thoughts on “Coconut cupcakes

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