These rich chocolate coconut cupcakes are indulgent, yet simple and quick to prepare. Rich and decadent, the moist chocolatey sponge is topped with smooth coconut frosting and topped with delicately toasted coconut, to marry the two flavors together in one perfect dessert.
Chocolate coconut cupcakes are the sort of dessert you admire when passing in front of a nicely dressed pastry shop or bakery: a tender chocolate sponge, topped with smooth, yet rich creamy frosting, sprinkled with delicious desiccated coconut, which has been toasted on a slow, low flame.
You know once you lock your eyes on such beauty it's hard to walk past and forget about it and it happened to me all the time while trying to stick to my calories, not deviate from the path.
This recipe is incredibly tasty, moist, and decadent, yet it contains no eggs, no baking powder, no butter (unless you want to use dairy butter for the frosting instead of a vegan option, or this brownie batter dip as a topping!). It effectively is the most luxurious vegan cupcake recipe you have ever set your eyes on and it requires very few ingredients. If you are looking for other sharing chocolate-based easy recipes, try these mini chocolate puff pastries... although you may not want to share them!
You can find the FREE printable card just below the notes I have written to help you make this recipe the easiest and most perfect way, but you are welcome to just scroll through the content and go to the nitty-gritty straight away!
Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes Ingredients
- All-Purpose Flour, Granulated Sugar, Sunflower or Vegetable Oil, Water: these are the base ingredients for this moist sponge.
- Salt, Baking Soda, Vinegar: These three ingredients act as raising agents in this cupcake recipe without baking powder.
- Dark Cocoa: Choosing dark cocoa powder offers a deeper flavor and pairs very well with the sweetness and richness of the coconut.
- Desiccated Coconut: Being one of the two key flavoring ingredients in this recipe, it is no surprise some of this will go in the rich chocolate sponge and some will be lightly toasted and sprinkled on top of the chocolate coconut cupcakes.
- Coconut Essence: This is an optional ingredient to go into the buttercream frosting and in the sponge of the cupcakes; it can be substituted if liked and a great option is maple syrup.
- Cornstarch and Soy Milk: These together will form the hardening agent for the coconut buttercream frosting. If not following a vegan diet, soy milk can be substituted with dairy milk, preferably full fat.
- Vegan Butter and Granulated Sugar: The basic ingredients for any buttercream frosting; if not following a vegan or dairy-free diet, then unsalted dairy butter can be used instead of the vegan one.
How to make Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes?
- Start by sifting the flour and soda powder into a large mixing bowl. Add salt sugar and coconut to it and mix well.
- In a jug, mix the vinegar, oil, and water to prepare the wet mix.
- Start adding the wet mix to the dry ingredients a bit at a time, mixing in between until they are all fully incorporated into each other.
- Sift the dark cocoa powder on top of the cupcake mix and mix well.
- Put the cupcake liners in the cupcake pans and add the batter to them; ensure these are filled halfway to allow enough space for baking.
- Place the baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes (or until cooked) at 350F (180c FAN oven).
How to make Coconut Buttercream?
- To prepare the hardening agent, mix the cornstarch and the soy milk in a pan and bring to a boil; allow this mixture to simmer until thick, constantly stirring so that it doesn't stick to the bottom.
- Allow the thickener to completely cool down; to speed the process up, this can be put in the fridge in a container covered with cling film.
- Add the sugar and the butter to a food processor; using the blade attachment, mix the two ingredients together until the sugar fully melts into the butter. This may take up to 15 minutes.
- Add the coconut extract and the fully cooled down thickening agent to the sugar and butter mixture, and mix until a fluffy and smooth buttercream frosting has formed.
How to decorate coconut cupcakes?
- In a pan, add the desiccated coconut and lightly toast it on a low flame, stirring constantly. Do not allow the coconut to overheat, as it will burn very quickly, given its high-fat content.
- Decorate each cupcake with some coconut buttercream frosting and some toasted coconut flakes. Enjoy!
People also ask [FAQs]
These chocolate coconut cupcakes can be prepared a couple of days in advance, and so can the frosting. For best results, store the unfrosted cupcakes on the kitchen counter, in an airtight container; before sealing the container, ensure they have fully cooled down.
Should you decide to prepare the indulgent buttercream in advance too, remember this will harden in the fridge, so you will need to take it out a couple of hours before using it; once it reaches the ideal consistency, whisk it for a few minutes to bring back that creamy frosting result.
Yes, most cupcake recipes can! The cooking time will be longer and it will mainly depend on the shape and size of the cake tin you choose to use.
If you have fully frosted leftover cupcakes, these can be stored in an airtight container on the countertop for a couple of days; please bear in mind that, should the weather be too hot, then it would be best to store them in the fridge, because of the buttercream. In that case, take them out of the fridge at least half an hour before eating.
There are many reasons why cupcakes can result dry, but the two main ones are:
1) Overbaking: the cupcakes have stayed in the oven too long and too much moisture has been removed from them. This can happen the first time we try a recipe, especially if we have a new oven or we are using one we are not familiar with; try adjusting the cooking time next time you bake them.
2) Too much flour: the dry ingredients such as flour or cocoa powder have been mismeasured and too much has been added, making the batter thicker than needed and the result drier. When making desserts, although using a measuring cup most of the time carries a good result, using a scale with grams or ounces is much more precise and a good choice if available; it is easy to add too much flour mixture when using cups and also just one extra tablespoon can make a big difference if paired with one extra minute in the oven.
Amendments and substitutes
There are days when we dream of fluffy cupcakes but don’t have every single ingredient in the cupboard and, without needing to go to the grocery store for anything else, it is good to know about some alternatives (applicable also if you prefer different flavor combinations!):
- Buttercream: If coconut is not your go-to combo with chocolate, then feel free to skip it in both the cupcakes and the buttercream. Great tasting alternatives as chocolate buttercream for a double cocoa effect (triple if you wish to add some chocolate chips!), strawberry frosting (which can be elegantly decorated with fresh strawberries), or simple vanilla buttercream frosting (in which case use vanilla extract in the foundation recipe for the cupcakes). For something fancier, try pairing them with cream cheese frosting!
- Non-vegan: this recipe can be followed step by step as it is for a vegan delight or amended to use some dairy and it will give perfectly delicious results anyway! The vegan butter can be swapped for unsalted butter, while the soy milk can be replaced with whole milk (although reduced-fat alternatives will work too!).
- Vinegar: should you not have cider vinegar, you can use the same amount of white wine vinegar; failing that, as a last resort you can use lemon juice instead, but in a slightly smaller amount (reduce the amount by about ¼).
- Starch: should you not have cornstarch to prepare the thickener
~~ Looking for an alternative to soy milk that is non-dairy? The 12 Best Non-Dairy Substitutes for Milk | What is the best alternative to milk? How to choose it? | 12+ Plant-Based Alternatives
Tips and tricks
Here are a few notes I thought would be useful to make the cupcake baking and decorating straightforward:
- Leavening agent: this recipe uses baking soda to react with vinegar to make the cake rise, rather than baking powder; because of this, you won’t want to have the cake batter ready too much in advance before putting the cupcakes in the oven – try to have them ready to go at the same time.
- Cooling: should you not have a cooling rack, you can easily use a wire rack from the oven, which normally has two – just remember to take it out of the oven before preheating it. If you have any other alternative that gives the option of elevating the cupcakes without fully blocking the bottom part of them, go for it!
- Frosting recipe: This frosting recipe is delicious however it does take a bit longer than simple butter and sugar frosting. Should you have a favorite frosting recipe that you’d like to use instead and is faster, go for it – but make sure you try this version when you have the time, as it is out of this world!
- Cupcake cases: this cake is black and white, which offers great contrast, however – if you would like something more vibrant, opt for some decorated, multicolored cases!
- Buttercream: The buttercream will harden once put in the fridge, so it is easiest to decorate the cupcakes immediately. Putting the cupcakes in the fridge will make them perfect if you are planning to take them to a barbecue or a party, as the buttercream will not soften too quickly during the travel. Remember to remove the cupcakes out of the fridge at least half an hour before serving.
- Decorating: Although I have used toasted desiccated coconut, many other ingredients can be used instead! If not going for the fully-vegan recipe, thenBounty chocolates are a great option, however also vegan chocolate chips or coconut chips work wonders.
Looking for other super scrumptious cupcakes and cakes delights?
- Black Forest Cupcakes
- Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Lemon Cupcakes
- Bread Pudding Recipe
- Chocolate Chip Muffins
The Best Moist Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes
For the cupcake sponge
- 300 g All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
- 300 g Granulated Sugar
- 30 g Dark Cocoa Powder
- ⅔ teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 tablespoon Desiccated Coconut grated
- 120 ml Sunflower Oil or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 teaspoon Coconut Essencee/Extract or maple syrup
- 360 ml Water
For the buttercream
- 2 tablespoon Cornstarch
- 240 ml Soy Milk dairy milk if non-vegan
- 250 g Vegan Butter dairy unsalted butter if non-vegan
- 250 g Granulated Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Coconut Essencee/Extract or maple syrup
For the toasted coconut
- 2 Tbps Desiccated Coconut grated
The chocolate coconut cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius if using a FAN oven, 400 Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius if using a static oven, gas mark 6.
- Start by sifting the all-purpose flour and baking soda in a large bowl; mix them well and add the sugar, desiccated coconut, and salt, and mix well again.
- In a separate container add your wet ingredients: sunflower or vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, water, and your flavoring essence of choice.
- Start adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients a bit at a time, mixing in between; once they are all mixed well together, you will have a smooth batter.
- At last, sift the dark cocoa powder on top of the cupcake batter and mix it in - without necessarily combining it completely, as you can get some nice coconut and chocolate swirls in the sponge.
- Line the cupcake pans with cupcake liners and fill them halfway; this recipe will prepare 24 medium-sized cupcakes.
- Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven, on the middle tray, for 16-18 minutes; once they are baked, remove them from the oven immediately and place the cupcake pan on a cooling rack, so that they start cooling down straight away.
The perfect creamy frosting
- The first component to prepare for the buttercream is what I call a thickener, which is made by combining milk and cornstarch. Put the mixture in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil on low-medium heat; as soon as it starts simmering, bring the flame to low and keep on stirring throughout the process.
- Once you achieve a thick consistency, like a thick custard, remove the pan from the hob and transfer its contents in a bowl, so it starts cooling down. Before moving to the next step, the thickener needs to be completely cool and if bringing it to room temperature takes too long, you can cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.
- In a food processor, using the attachment with the metal blades, add the sugar and the butter, which will be at room temperature and cut into small pieces. Mix the two ingredients until the sugar completely melts in the butter and you obtain a thick and smooth cream; this step can take up to 15 minutes, but using granulated sugar in the butter will make the result with it!
- Next, add the same extract you used in the cupcake and the thickener to the food processor and mix again until peaks form. Beat the butter until pale and creamy, yet thick.
Chocolate coconut cupcakes with buttercream icing: decorating
- It is best to use the buttercream immediately, as putting it in the fridge will make it harden.
- Chose a nice tip and place the coconut-infused frosting in the piping bag; decorate the cupcakes as liked dividing the buttercream equally.
- To toast the grated coconut, add it to a large pan and heat it on a low flame, and stir constantly; toast until golden brown and move to a cool plate straight away. If your flame is too high or the coconut toasts for too long it will burn quite quickly, as the oils in it will act fast - so keep an eye on it, and a low flame!
- Once the toasted coconut has cooled down completely, sprinkle it on top of the cupcakes and enjoy!
If you fill the cupcake liners more than halfway, like ⅔ full, they will create a very rounded dome during the baking and they will be harder to frost (plus, you will have fewer cupcakes with more calories!).
For ease, try using an ice-cream scoop to fill the cupcake tins.
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