coconut | cream cheese | cupcakes | recipe | st. patrick's day

Coconut Cupcakes, a la Ina Garten.

March 17, 2008

Before I start babbling I’ll get this out of the way: WELCOME TO CUPCAKEREHAB.COM! Its finally up and running… whew. Not perfect, but I’ll fix it. Now on to the cupcakes!

Happy (early) St. Patricks Day! Don’t you love a holiday where its acceptable to paint shamrocks on your face, dress like a leprechaun, put on a fake Irish brogue and get completely and utterly drunk and act stupid? Not that I did any of that. Yet. Heh, kidding. Well, I am! St. Patricks Day is tomorrow… sheesh.

I don’t watch the Food Network often, but when I do I always see one of four things: The cake challenges (love those!), the Iron Chef (love that too) or Paula Deen or Ina Garten’s food shows. I love Paula, I do, I actually think shes half in the bag most of the time but she’s a riot. I found (Jean Georges pastry chef) Johnny Iuzzini by watching her ‘Paula’s Party’ show and I may in fact begin to stalk him. Just kidding. *ahem* Now while Ina’s show isn’t as fun and exciting as Paula’s (and I’ve never seen a cute tattooed pastry chef on it), I still really like her recipes. I’ve been wanting to try these for months and I’ve only mentioned them, oh, a million times. I finally ended up with coconut, almond extract and cream cheese at the same time, so I was able to. I think Ina Garten makes some awesome stuff, I’ve got her beef stew, macaroni-n-cheese and scones on my “To-Do” list.

(By the way: I have no idea why, but I mentally call her “Eena” instead of “Eye-na”…. but thats okay. I’m sure it wouldn’t be okay with her, but oh well.)

This recipe makes more than 2 dozen champion choicest coconut-ty cupcakes of considerable confectionery coolness. I love alliteration. It made 36 cupcakes for me. I almost halved the recipe, just because it seemed like so much (3 sticks of butter for the batter ALONE?! FIVE FRIGGIN’ EGGS!? Ina, whatzefack?) but I’m glad I didn’t because they’re amazing and I plan on eating a million. Jay hates shredded coconut so I knew he couldn’t be counted on to definitely eat any of them, but I left two plain without coconut on top just for him to try. Which he probably won’t. Boo to him. But I like coconut so I’m sure my ass will be twice as fat in a few days. Decoration wise: seeing as how its the day of greenery, I dyed the coconut green as well as the frosting. I thought the green coconut kinda looked like grass, and Ireland is all about the green grass



  • ¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature (I used large, not extra large, and thats fine)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (regular salt is fine too)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.
  4. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.
  6. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

I piped my frosting on with a Wilton tip #12 before dipping them in a bowl of dyed coconut. If you wanna dye the coconut like I did, which would be really cute for many different types of themed cupcakes, like golf cupcakes (with those chocolate foil wrapped golf balls on top!) its really simple. There are two ways:

  1. You can use wet (liquid) food coloring to tint coconut. Place the coconut in a large bowl, sprinkle some food coloring, being careful not to add too much as you can always add more. Wearing gloves, toss the mixture until uniform in color. If you don’t wear gloves, good luck with looking like you’re turning into the Incredible Hulk for a week.
  2. A less messy way: you can use the same type of food coloring, except put the coconut and the food coloring in a Ziplock baggie, and shake until uniformly colored.

I had to water down some Wilton gel food coloring because my liquid green seems to have vanished into thin air. If it was red, I’d say maybe it was a vampire food coloring and it just turned into a teeny red bat and flew away… but it was green. if anyone has seen my green food coloring bottle please let me know. Maybe he fell in with a bad crowd. I don’t care, I love him anyway and want him to come home.

Wow… okay sorry that last paragraph was a testament to my insanity. I swear I’m not drunk. Forgive me.

OH! And before I go… heres another interesting little search engine query:


Third line down: Why do people wear aprons?

Why, I have no idea. Aprons! What a silly notion. 😉

I actually did not wear my apron ths evening while baking and now I look like a mess. Thats why people bake with aprons!

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  2. Thank you for the dyed coconut instructions – my son wants a “bee” cake for his bday, so I’m layering yellow & chocolate cake, then topping it with coconut grass, marzipan bees, and cookiepop flowers. 😀

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