Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes

This past weekend, my husband and I spent the weekend in the suburbs of Chicago, visiting my sister, her husband, and their three kids. My brother-in-law recently turned 32, and he LOVES sweets (seriously, no cookie, cake, pie, or candy stands a CHANCE around him), so I wanted to bake something for him as a belated celebration of his birthday. I hemmed and hawed about a few different things I’ve made before, and suddenly, out of nowhere, I decided that I wanted to make chocolate coconut cupcakes. So, I set to work revising and combining a few recipes I’ve seen around the ‘ole internet, and this is what I came up with!

Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes
makes about 24
cupcake recipe adapted from here

1 stick butter
1/2 c virgin coconut oil (NOT coconut butter)
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp coconut extract
1/2 cup + 1 T dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 cup + 1 T hot water
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sour cream (low-fat is fine)

*Coconut oil has become fairly popular in recent years, and you are likely to find it in most grocery stores. I know that Trader Joe’s has it, and I also sometimes purchase it at places like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s in their gourmet foods section.

1.) Preheat your oven to 350°. In a small pan, melt butter, coconut oil, and sugar together over low heat. It will seem like it’s taking forever, but once the butter and coconut oil start to warm up, it’ll all come together pretty quickly.

2.) Once everything has melted together, place your butter/coconut oil/sugar mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer (or just a large mixing bowl, if you’re using a hand mixer). Beat the mixture, on medium-low, with the paddle attachment, until the mixture has cooled to room temperature (about 3-5 minutes). While your mixture is cooling, combing the cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl, and whisk until smooth.

3.) Now that the start of your wet ingredients has cooled down, add your eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add your extracts next, and then your cocoa/water mixture, and beat until everything is thoroughly combined.

4.) In another small bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to your wet ingredients in 3 small batches, alternating with 2 batches of the sour cream – and make sure you begin and end with the dry ingredients. Be careful not to overmix (stop the mixture as soon as each addition is incorporated), and scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions, to make sure everything is well-combined.

5.) Line muffin tins with cupcake liners (or spray with non-stick cooking spray). Fill each liner about halfway with your batter.

6.) Bake cupcakes for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

7.) When the cupcakes are done, let them cool in the muffin tins for about 5 minutes – and then remove them to a wire rack to let them finish cooling completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, mix up your topping.

Coconut Topping

1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

1.) Mix together the sweetened condensed milk and powdered sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the shredded coconut, and combine until everything is evenly incorporated.

2.) When cupcakes are completely cooled, gently spread about 3T of the coconut topping onto each cupcake. The topping is really thick and sticky, and the cupcakes are pretty delicate, so you want to be careful to be really gentle when you spread the topping, so the cupcakes don’t rip (I may or may not speak from experience on this one).

Unlike a typical cupcake, this coconut topping is not really a FROSTING – it’s not super sugary (it’s sweet, to be sure, but less aggressively so than your typical buttercream frosting), it’s got a lot of texture, and it has TONS of flavor. It’s very similar in texture to a german chocolate cake frosting, if you are familiar with that. As far as the cupcake itself, the coconut oil makes them incredibly moist (and the combined scent of chocolate and coconut while they’re baking is enough to make you want to shove your face directly into the oven and eat them straight out of the 350° pan) – combined with the coconut extract and the shredded coconut in the topping, you get lots of coconut flavor, but not so much that it takes over the chocolate. It’s a great balance, I think.

My brother-in-law also said that these tasted kind of healthy, but in a good way – they were sweet, and chocolatey, and a great dessert, but without inducing a massive sugar rush and subsequent crash. I’ll consider that a win!

Everything is better with coconut,

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