Though I rarely post standalone recipes these days, this is an application of the winner of my chocolate cake bake off that I couldn’t not share after this glowing review after I brought them to a birthday party:
Though not a flavor I would have thought to make on my own, chocolate coconut was the cupcake flavor requested by the birthday girl. And so:
- I was fairly certain that Ina’s winning chocolate cake would work as cupcakes, so the cake part was covered.
- When it came to adding coconut frosting, most recipes I looked at called for coconut extract or a few tablespoons of coconut milk. Unwilling to make room for another extract in my pantry or letting a mostly unused can of coconut milk rot in my fridge, I went with a simple vanilla buttercream topped with toasted coconut and topped with a drizzle of salted caramel.
The resulting cupcakes are just subtly coconutty and wow I will admit that you could break a tooth on how sweet these are, but MY GOD ARE THEY GOOD.
At a glance, they are:
- a half batch of Ina Garten’s winning chocolate cake (which makes a perfect dozen cupcakes)
- a quarter batch of Sally’s Baking Addiction’s vanilla buttercream (the perfect amount to scantily frost a dozen cupcakes, trust me)
- a half batch of Live Well Bake Often’s salted caramel (you will end up with extra. If you want to risk attempting quarter batch, you can!)
- some dessicated coconut, toasted! (Make sure to use unsweetened!)
The (very small) trick to these is to frost them a la Sprinkles (you can watch my Instagram Reel to see how I do it or catch Candace frosting them here) so that you have a flat, fairly even surface to dip into the coconut.
Because the salted caramel is really gilding the lily, I purposefully frost these cupcakes with a thin layer of frosting so as to not to overdo the sweetness. Have caution when rolling/dipping these in coconut as they can easily become top heavy and topple over. And there you have it–very easy chocolate coconut cupcakes, perfect for any celebration!
Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes
For the cupcakes
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tbsp cocoa powder (Dutch-process or natural)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 extra-large (or large) egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup hot coffee
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1.5 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1.5 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extra
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup desiccated coconut (or unsweetened shredded coconut if that's all you can find)
Make the cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake tin with 12 liners. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk until blended.
- In another bowl (I usually use a liquid measuring cup), combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just mixed. Then stream in the hot coffee and whisk again until everything is combined and smooth (but don't overmix, which will make the cake tough!).
- Divide batter evenly between 12 cupcake cavities (you'll fill them almost to the top). Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean or the tops spring back when poked. Cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn out to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the caramel
- Combine water and sugar in a small or medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Then increase heat to high and bring to a boil (do not stir at this point). Then let mixture boil until it turns amber–this took about 10 minutes for me, but Danielle says it could take anywhere from 4-12 minutes.
- Remove from heat and slowly stream in the heavy cream while whisking. Then whisk in the butter, vanilla and salt. Let caramel cool completely before using! You can make this ahead of time and store in the fridge overnight before using on cupcakes. Mine was still very runny the next day, but if yours thickens after being refrigerated, you can microwave it to loosen it up.
Make the buttercream
- Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, whip the butter until creamy (about 1 minute). PS. If you forgot to bring your butter to room temperature, you can microwave it for 8-10 seconds to take the chill off!
- Add the powdered sugar (ideally sifted for fewer lumps) and cream for 3-4 minutes to get a super fluffy texture. Add your desired amount of heavy cream to get the buttercream to your desired consistency, vanilla and salt, and cream again for another 1-2 minutes until fully incorporated.
Assemble the cupcakes
- First, toast your coconut! Add the dry coconut to a frying pan over medium heat and toast until golden, stirring occasionally (it's okay if it's unevenly browned). Let cool completely before using.
- Using an offset spatula, use a few tablespoons of frosting per cupcake to frost each cupcake with a smooth top and flat, angled sides (see videos above for inspiration). Then roll the cupcake in the toasted coconut and drizzle with salted caramel and enjoy!