Scientifically Sweet: Chocolate Chip Coconut Milk Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chocolate Chip Coconut Milk Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Coconut is one of my favourite things ever.

And when it's matched up with chocolate my brain practically explodes.

I know some people love it (me) and some people hate it.

I guess that's just how it is.

I like it in all forms:

water, milk, cream, dried, flaked, shredded.... I love it all.

One of my favourite candy bars when I was a child was Bounty. Top it off with an almond and it becomes Mounds. My Nonna used to give us change so we could walk down to the corner store and buy snacks - I always got Bounty.

Then when they came out with the dark chocolate version some 12 years later I nearly died!

I don't know if I could ever get enough coconut. One day I'll test those limits...when I have absolutely nothing to do but eat coconut. Until then I'll just think about it and wonder how much it takes to do me in.

These cupcakes are brilliant. They are made with coconut milk. They have a creamy flavour and soft texture. I like to stare at them while they bake. Jon thinks he should build a tiny stool in front of the oven so I have something to sit on.

They're white like coconut and fluffy like cotton candy. Just be wise when you mix in the flour - use a gentle hand.

The frosting is even more genius. I was able to squeeze a whole 2/3 cup (thats 150 ml!) of coconut milk in it.

In order to do that I made one of my favourite types of frosting - a cooked frosting.

It starts with making an eggless custard-like mixture. I combine flour, sugar and coconut milk in a saucepan and then cook it until it boils and gets super thick. After this mixture cools, I beat it into softened butter AND cream cheese.

Coconut and cream cheese. I don't think my brain can handle this.

This recipe makes a good amount so you can really pile that frosting nice and thick!

The flour in the coconut mixture contains proteins, which are powerful emulsifiers and will help to bring this frosting together without separation. Make sure you use all of the flour required because you need the strength to bind all of the moisture from the coconut milk with the fat from the butter and cream cheese. You are basically creating an emulsion here.

In the end it will be silky, smooth and highly addictive.

You can share. Or, not. I won't judge.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cupcakes
Makes about 12 cupcakes

For the cupcake batter:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup coconut milk, at room temperature
1 tbsp pure canola oil
2 oz bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa), finely chopped

For the frosting:
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup coconut milk  
5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz brick cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a separate medium bowl, beat butter with sugar using an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated and fluffy, about 30 seconds on medium-high speed.

In a small bowl or volumetric measuring cup, whisk together coconut milk and oil with a fork. Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the butter mixture and beat on medium-low speed until mostly incorporated. Add half of the coconut milk mixture and beat until well blended, 10-15 seconds. Sift in half of the remaining flour mixture followed by the last of the milk mixture on medium speed just until the batter is smooth, but do not over-mix. Finally, add the chopped chocolate and sift in the rest of the flour mixture. Fold it in by hand until evenly combined. Divide the batter among prepared muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges are just lightly golden, about 18 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, whisk together flour and sugar in a 1 or 2-quart saucepan until even blended and no lumps remain. Gradually whisk in coconut milk and then place pan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Once the mixture comes to a boil, continue to cook another 3 minutes while whisking constantly. It will turn into a thick, smooth, translucent paste. It should be as thick as butterscotch sauce. Remove this mixture from heat and pass it through a fine mesh sieve and into a clean bowl. Let it cool at room temperature until completely cool, about 30 minutes. You can refrigerate the mixture to speed up the process, but make sure to check up on it and stir it frequently. It should be cool, not cold. The ingredients need to be at the same temperature for them to emulsify properly.

In a large bowl, beat butter with cream cheese until very smooth and creamy using an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed. Beat in vanilla extract and salt. Add one-third of the cooled milk mixture and beat on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds. Add the remaining coconut milk mixture in two parts, beating until well incorporated after each addition. Once it has all been incorporated beat until light, fluffy and smooth, about 1 minute. Refrigerate the mixture for 15 minutes and then beat again for 30 seconds to fluff it up. Decorate cupcakes as you wish!

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  1. I just died and went to heaven!!! I think we are kindred souls.. If I could make something coconutty (that's a word, right?) everyday I would!! Sadly, my husband is "Not a huge fan" (to say the least)... he is headed out of town this weekend... and I know what I'm gonna do... make these cupcakes!!! Literally after I drop him off at the airport I am headed to the store to get the ingredients!! ThankyouThankyouThankyou!!

  2. These look and sound so good. I was addicted to Mounds candy bars as a kid and could eat chocolate and coconut together everyday. I'm also glad to know that I am not the only one who sits in front of the oven while things are baking lol. I do it so often that my 21 month old turns on the oven light now to look inside.

  3. I've never understood those people who hate coconut. I can't get enough of it!! And I definitely wouldn't be able to get enough of these cupcakes alone. I think I might run of with the bowl of frosting!

  4. I love coconut too, and I like the sound of that frosting :d

    My Nonna always used to buy me Bounty bars as a kid. They were my favourite.

  5. This looks heaven...and you are right coconut and chocolate is irresistible...just one question, is there a substitute for cream cheese because it is not available in Kerala.

    1. Hmmm...the cream cheese has a high protein content so it helps to emulsify the frosting as well as give great flavour. You could try to replace it with more butter but it might not be as smooth.

  6. Look at that gorgeous, fluffy frosting. I'm totally drooling on myself as I'm staring at the computer screen. These little gems sound amazing. Chocolate and coconut are totally meant to be together.

  7. i actually have a fold up stool i use in my kitchen so i can watch my treats bake LOL
    these sounds divine! all u need now is a beach, towel, and sun :)

  8. This cupcakes look fantastic, I love coconut milk. My current oven doesn't have a window, so I can't watch my baking, but I always stare at the food in my parents' oven when I visit.

  9. These look great. Can I ask, what kind of coconut milk? Is it the traditional stuff that comes in a thick lump in a tin can or that new fangled stuff in the cartons that pours like regular milk? I like the old stuff. The new stuff tends to have too many additives for my taste. I ask, though, because I can only imagine that there would be a difference in how the recipe performs, one being more liquid and the other more like double cream.

    1. Good question! I prefer Aroy-D brand canned coconut milk.

  10. I like these food very much. I will try these recipe in my home.

  11. Why not use coconut butter

  12. Looks so yummy, but no actual coconut flakes. Any suggestions on where to add them besides as a topping to the frosting?

  13. Cool! I love your site. Very well done. Thanks for organizing everything to where I can find it easier. Keep up the good work! I love it!

  14. I think I'm gonna die. You have combined so many of my fav things: cream cheese, coconut, chocolate and vanilla. Yes, it's official. I have died and gone to heaven!

    One thing: is self-raising flour the same thing as using plain flour and adding baking powder?

    1. Hi, yes self-raising flour is plain flour with raising agents added to it. The proportion of baking powder in self-raising flour varies depending on brand. In this recipe, I think you can substitute the all-purpose flour with self-raising at a 1:1 ratio and eliminate the added baking powder. That's a great question!


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