These dreamy coconut cupcakes are moist and packed with shredded coconut both inside and out and frosted with a delicious cream cheese buttercream. Plus lots of options to customize it to your personal preferences!
Coconut. You either love it or hate it. For me, coconut has it’s place. I love it in certain foods, but not in others. For example, coconut shrimp. Eh, it’s oaky. But the Professor loves it.
Now. coconut cupcakes, bars and cookies? YUM! Pina coladas? Pour me a glass!
Coconut oil? Eh. When you cook with it, your food tastes like coconut! You know I prefer my extra virgin olive oil!
What fat do I use in coconut cupcakes?
When I first made these coconut cupcakes, I followed Ina Garten’s recipe. She uses butter as the cupcake base and yes, it was quite delicious. But I prefer baking with olive oil, so I’ve adapted the recipe.
Remember, when cooking with olive oil we are talking about extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). And EVOO comes in a variety of flavor profiles. For baking desserts, I use a neutral flavored olive oil.
Why didn’t you use coconut oil to bake coconut cupcakes? Great question! I don’t have any! My boys use the coconut oil I had sitting in the pantry for their hair. If you want even more coconut flavor, then by all means use coconut oil in this recipe. I have included the amount you need in the footnotes below.
Baking with yogurt
These cupcakes are really delicious and moist. And as the recipe shows, they are baked with yogurt. If you are unfamiliar with baking with yogurt, let me explain why I love it.
Maybe you are familiar with baking with buttermilk, like buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk biscuits and buttermilk cake? Yogurt, like buttermilk, is acidic – especially Greek yogurt.
The acid in both buttermilk and yogurt helps the leavening and create a light and fluffy dessert. I love baking with yogurt so much that I stopped using buttermilk completely. If you have a recipe using buttermilk, I have an easy substitution so you can swap it out with Greek yogurt.
For every 1 cup of buttermilk, substitute with 3/4 cup Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup milk.
If you don’t have yogurt on hand, you can also use sour cream or crème fraîche. And of course, you can use buttermilk, too!
Sweetened versus unsweetened coconut
When shop for coconut in the stores you find it in a number of varieties. There’s shredded versus shaved, and sweetened versus unsweetened. Which do you need for these cupcakes?
I personally do like teeth cracking sweet desserts. So my cakes tend to be lightly sweetened, especially if I am adding sweet frosting. I baked these cupcakes with unsweetened shredded coconut and it was delicious and not candy sweet.
The cooled cupcakes are frosted and garnished with some more shredded coconut. You can use either sweetened or unsweetened coconut here. Again, it’s about personal preference and how much sugar you want eat.
If you want a sweeter flavor, then by all means use sweetened shredded coconut. You can also toast the shredded coconut before topping your cupcakes with it. Just add the coconut to a pan and toast over medium heat until lightly browned. Let it cool before sprinkling it over your cupcakes.
Frosting your coconut cupcakes
This recipe makes 24 cupcakes. You can definitely bake half the amount if you only need 12. Once the cupcakes are baked and cooled, you can start frosting them!
For these cupcakes I used a cream cheese frosting, using both cream cheese and butter. It gives you a light cream colored frosting and I really, really love cream cheese frosting! It’s not just for carrot cake, ya’ll!
When frosting your cupcakes, you can do several different options. You can go all shortening, mix shortening and butter, or shortening and cream cheese. Another option is to use coconut oil, for more flavor.
Remember, coconut oil is a solid at room temperature, unlike my beloved olive oil. So you can use it for frosting. It all depends on your personal preference. Once frosted, hide all of your piping mistakes with a generous heap of shredded coconut!
- 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 7 oz unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 lb unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/2 lb powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 TBS heavy whipping cream or milk
- 4 oz sweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 350ºF Spray a 24-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper cups. Set aside.
- Using a hand mixer or whisk, combine olive oil and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Mix in yogurt and milk until just combined.
- Add eggs, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1 1/2 tsp almond extract until just combined.
- In a medium-sized bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to the batter.
- Gently fold in unsweetened coconut.
- Fill each muffin cup 3/4 up to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the pan and finish cooling on a cooling rack.
- To make the frosting, use a stand mixer or hand mixer and whip up butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
- Mix in heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract.
- Mix in powdered sugar on low speed until smooth.
- Frost cooled cupcakes and top with remaining sweetened coconut.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.
If you prefer baking with butter, then use 3/4 lb of butter (1 cup) instead of olive oil. If you prefer baking with coconut oil and want more coconut flavor, use 1 cup of coconut oil.
I preferred using unsweetened coconut baked inside the cupcakes as I felt the cupcakes were sweet enough. You can use sweetened coconut, if you prefer sweeter cupcakes.
For the frosting, you can substitute coconut oil for butter or cream cheese or both. It all depends on the flavor you are looking for.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 621Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 198mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 2gSugar: 48gProtein: 6g