Monday, April 10, 2017

The Coconut Cupcakes That Weren't

This is the problem with a recipe blog by authors. Every recipe has a story. The drama! The gnashing of teeth! The sighs and tears.

Okay, so the recipes aren't quite that dramatic. I had every intention of making coconut cupcakes for Easter. But when I considered how to make the actual cupcake, I was underwhelmed because they rarely have much coconut flavor. Vanilla cupcakes, I decided.

So I baked the vanilla cupcakes, but in the process found that the cupcake liners I had were ginormous. Oh my! See the funny photos below showing the difference between a regular cupcake and giant ones. Not to worry, I thought, we'll eat them anyway.

So since the cake part was simply vanilla, I thought I should make a nice lemon curd as a filling. But when I was looking for something else, I spied a jar of Nutella in the pantry. It seemed somehow Easter-y to have a surprise chocolate hazelnut center and it's a lot less work than making the curd. Nutella it was.

I could still make the tooth-achingly sweet coconut marshmallow buttercream I had in mind. So as the mixer whirred and whirred and whirred (really, that's the secret to a wonderful frosting) and it became silky smooth, I didn't want to add the coconut and make it all chunky. Aha! I would sprinkle it over the top.

So I piped the lovely frosting on top and tried to sprinkle the coconut, which just looked really awful. And so the coconut cupcakes turned out not to be coconut. But they're still pretty good.

If this looks like a project, you can do a few different things.

1. Bake the cupcakes, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

2. Bake the cupcakes and fill with something else, like lemon curd.

3. Bake the cupcakes and don't fill them with anything, simply frost them.

Vanilla Cupcakes

1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons, room temperature)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Place cupcake liners in pan.

Mix the milk with the vinegar and set aside. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugar and the vegetable oil. Add the eggs and beat at least two minutes. On a slow speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture. Add the vanilla and beat at least 3-4 minutes.

Spoon into the prepared papers and bake 16 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack.


Carve a small divot out of the center of each cupcake. You can use the wide part of a piping tip or a knife. Fill with Nutella and place the top part of the portion you removed back on the filling.

Cream Cheese and Marshmallow Buttercream

1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons, room temperature)
2 tablespoons cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
24+ jelly beans

Place the butter, cream cheese, and marshmallow fluff in the mix and beat well. Add the vanilla and beat. Add one cup of powdered sugar at a time, and mix on low, raising the speed as it's incorporated. Beat on high for five minutes.

Pipe onto cupcakes and place jelly beans in center.

Look at the difference!

Take out the divot with a piping tip!

Remove divot.
Spoon filling into hole.

Cover with top of portion removed.

Happy Easter, Everyone!  


  1. We are very flexible cooks! I love the story of your trials and tribulations, and the results look lovely (you could have cheated and not told us about all the mis-steps). That frosting is gorgeous.

    Funny how cupcake sizes are so vague--have you ever seen a recipe that specified "use a cupcake tin with 1/2-cup compartments"? I've got a lot of vintage ones, and they're probably smaller than that. And then there are the monster-size ones. Yours look . . . cupcake-sized!

    1. I used a regular size cupcake pan, but those big papers just held more of the batter and it grew! Very funny. I have seen recipes that state how many regular cupcakes and how many mini-cupcakes, but I haven't seen recipe for giant cupcakes. The packages state "baking cups" and a size, but who pays attention to that?

  2. Wow! Looks yummy! We love making cupcakes here at our house. I think I will have to try that frosting recipe for my pumpkin muffins. It just sounds like it would be good on it.

  3. The marshmallow fluff sounds like an amazing addition to the cream cheese frosting! I'm definitely going to try it. Thanks for sharing your story about how you created these lovely cupcakes!

    1. You can still taste the cream cheese, but I feel like it's a little fluffier.

  4. Kudos to you for all this effort! And a finished product that looks and sounds lovely.
    I wonder what would happen if you partially filled the cupcake cups with batter, plopped in some Nutella, and finished with the rest of the batter? How would the Nutella react to the baking? Anyone know?

    1. Good question. I suspect that it would melt into the lower level. But I don't know. If you try, Libby, tell us what what happens!

  5. Nutella would be a welcome surprise in any cupcake for me! Thanks for the recipe and sharing your willingness to adapt your recipe when things just don't work out the way you want. :)

    1. Then you would love these, Amanda. And they're fun because no one would suspect there's a filling until they bite into them!

  6. Marshmallow Fluff is different from Marshmallow Creme, right?

  7. Beautiful Easter cupcakes, Krista. Great "tales from the kitchen" story with a delicious solution in the Nutella surprise! Have a happy spring holiday week!

    ~ Cleo

  8. That's how great recipes are born when things take a left turn and you have to come up with something on the fly. I can't wait to try your recipe Krista!

  9. gorgeous Krista--I need a lesson on piping icing! xo

  10. They look so cute with the jelly beans on top--delicious in the end!

  11. The cupcakes look like a great Easter dessert. I like the surprise in the middle.

  12. I love a flexible recipe. Thanks for the great ideas and room for creativity.

  13. One recipe, infinite choices - thank you, Krista! Happy Easter to you, and to all who will be eating those delicious cupcakes.