Vanilla Bean Coconut Cupcakes

I have a theory about coconut.

There are a lot of people who say they hate coconut.

I used to say I hated coconut.

But my theory is that people actually hate the texture of coconut, not so much the flavour. Dousing the flavour with sweetness seems to help too.

My data? These cupcakes.

They do have a little coconut texture, but only on top as a garnish. Coconut flavour, however? Oh, there’s lots of that. It’s just that instead of being filled with shards of coconut, it gets its flavour from coconut milk, reduced down over a hot stove to really concentrate its impact.

(I don’t really think the reduced coconut milk is supposed to look like a cross between ice cream and whipped cream when it comes out of the fridge. But mine did. I may have boiled it down a little too long. All I know is that things tasted fantastic in the end so I have no complaints!)

So even with all this coconutty flavour baked into each and every cupcake and then further injected into the frosting, the coconut haters on my team still loved these cupcakes. They even bothered to claim that they “tasted nothing like coconut”.

I ate 3 of them in the span of a work day. I can tell you, they tasted like coconut.

However, unlike coconut macaroons, there was no digging your teeth through an inch of coconut. And I think that missing link is what turns coconut haters into believers. A cake, not unlike this cupcake, is what converted me from hater to lover. Although, I still don’t like coconut macaroons all that much.

If you need to trick someone into it, just leave off the toasted coconut and see what happens.

I dare you.

And if they still don’t like it? Well then, more for you.

It’s a win/win situation!

Random note about this post: My parents got a new Macro lens for my birthday so if you find some of these pictures have a crazy depth of field, that’s me learning how to use my new lens. (Thanks parents!!) :)

Speaking of birthdays, stay tuned for my next post where I’m not the baker, Trevor is! And he baked me a birthday cake! :o

Happy Birthday me!

Vanilla Bean Coconut Cupcakes

Adapted from

Reduced coconut milk

  • 3 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk


  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Seeds scraped from 1 1/2 split vanilla beans
  • 1 1/2 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature


  • 1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4-1 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
  • Seeds scraped from 1 1/2 split vanilla beans
  • couple pinches salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)


  1. Reduced coconut milk: Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan (I used a large pasta pot) over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). (I also scraped the seeds out of my 3 vanilla beans ahead of time so I could boil the empty pods with the milk. You don’t need to do this, but I figured it would add a little something.) Reduce heat to medium-low; boil until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
  2. Cupcakes: Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 dozen muffin cups with paper liners. (More will be needed, but only 2 dozen will fit in an oven rack at a time) Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in seeds from vanilla bean and remaining egg. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 1/2 cups reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Divide batter among muffin cups using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop. Bake cupcakes until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes in pans to rack; cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on rack. Repeat with remaining batter in a newly lined muffin cups.
  3. Frosting: Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 3/4 cup reduced coconut milk, seeds from vanilla bean, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy. Taste frosting. If you like a tangier frosting, add remaining reduced coconut milk.
  4. Using pastry bag fitted with large star tip, pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. (Alternatively, top each cupcake with 2 tablespoons frosting. Using small offset spatula, swirl frosting over top of cupcakes, leaving 1/2-inch plain border.) Sprinkle with coconut.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight containers; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes approximately 30 cupcakes.


4 thoughts on “Vanilla Bean Coconut Cupcakes

  1. Pingback: Die Kochliste, Q4/2010 » Dillspitzen

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