Toasted Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Sometimes there are little shortcuts in life that you just have to take. Doctoring up a boxed cake mix to play with flavors and guarantee a tasty product is one of those shortcuts. These little coconut delights were a product of French vanilla cake mix, sour cream, and coconut milk. Easy as cream cheesey.

I have a secret little method I use when making cupcakes with a cake mix that involves the addition of sour cream. This makes the cake slightly less sugary and a bit creamier. It also makes me feel as if I’ve contributed a bit more to my product and didn’t fully cheat by using a boxed cake mix instead of making something from scratch. That’s just my way of making myself feel less guilty about it 😉

Another amazing thing about cake mix: it’s great for the experimental baker. You could replace the water in the cake mix with nearly any variety of juice or milk and create a brand new product (I’ll eventually post my version of apple spice cake with caramel frosting to further demonstrate).  For this recipe, I replaced the required water with canned coconut milk.

I can’t say the idea is fully my own since I worked for a fabulous little bakery for a short time that assembled a very similar cupcake. I loved them so much, I had to figure out my own version that was easy enough to make at home. I have to warn you though that this is my first version, and I would love to update it once I have the time.

Onto the good stuff.

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 24 small cupcakes

For the Cupcake

  • One box French vanilla or vanilla cake mix (preferably with pudding in the mix so the cake gets really soft)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • Cupcake or muffin pan

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 8 oz containers of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup toasted coconut flakes

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Prepare the cake batter by adding all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and mix by hand until the batter is blended and soft. The addition of sour cream will make the batter thicker than normal.
  3. Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup dry measuring cup and spoon, pour batter into cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full.
  4. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed.
  5. Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and cool for 5-10 minutes in their pans. Next, remove the cupcakes from the pans to a wire cooling rack.
  6. While the cupcakes are cooling (or before), make the cream cheese frosting. Begin by creaming together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  7. Add the extract (you can substitute vanilla if almond isn’t your thing), and mix in the sugar one cup at a time.
  8. Beat until the frosting is thick and blended. If you prefer a heavier texture, continue to add confectioner’s sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you’ve reach the desired consistency.
  9. When the cupcakes are fully cooled, pipe cream cheese frosting on each cupcake with a pastry bag and star tip. Top with toasted coconut immediately.

Not sure how to toast coconut? It’s so easy! You have many options, but the one I’ve found the easiest (and quickest) is on the stove top. Lay a thin layer of coconut in a clean nonstick pan, and place the pan over low heat. Move the coconut around frequently with a wooden or plastic spoon until the flakes begin to brown. Remove the pan from heat, and continue to move the coconut around for another minute as the pan cools. Voila! You can store unused coconut flakes in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Tip: If the butter or cream cheese is too soft when you whip the frosting, refrigerate the final product for 30-60 minutes before using. The frosting will thicken, making it easier to frost your cupcakes with a pastry bag.

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