Honey’s Coconut Cupcakes from Jenn Segal’s Once Upon a Chef
Once upon a time, Jenn Segal went to culinary school and worked in fancy restaurants. One marriage and two kids later she created Once Upon a Chef, the popular blog that applies her tried-and-true chef skills with delicious, fresh, and approachable ingredients for family-friendly meals.
Today, Segal’s new cookbook—also called Once Upon a Chef—shares 100 recipes that will up your kitchen game while surprising you with their ease. With the authority of a professional chef and the practicality of a busy working mom, she teaches you to improve your cooking one recipe at a time, with helpful tips on topics such as how to season correctly with salt, how to balance flavors, and how to make the most of leftovers.
Here, we’re sharing her delicious recipe for coconut cupcakes—watch the video, and then find the recipe below!
They say that traits usually skip a generation, but in my case they skipped two. My great grandmother, who was called “Honey” by everyone who knew her, was a baker and caterer. She baked cakes for the whole city of Buffalo, New York, and was especially well known for her coconut cake.
Unfortunately, there was no real recipe left when she passed, only scribbled notes on an old index card from my mom’s green tin recipe box. Once I became the family baker, I took it upon myself to recreate Honey’s famous coconut cake. I could never get it quite as “coconut-y” as the original but finally, I nailed it. The trick was adding a coconut milk and shredded coconut to both the cake and the frosting.
Honey’s Coconut Cupcakes
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes
For the Cupcakes
- 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 lemon
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
For the Frosting
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
- Pinch of salt
- 1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, for topping
For the Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Lightly spray the top of the pans with a nonstick cooking spray with flour, such as Baker’s Joy or Pam Baking Spray with Flour, just in case the cupcake tops stick to the pan (don’t worry if the spray gets in the liners).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and lemon juice. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Turn the speed down to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the coconut milk–lemon juice mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining coconut milk–lemon juice mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture, then scrape down the bowl and beat again until the batter is just combined. Quickly mix in the shredded coconut; do not overmix.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pans, filling each cup about three-fourths full. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, until the cupcakes are set, lightly golden, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean (note that one pan may finish baking before the other). Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Frosting
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy and well combined. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar, and then beat in the vanilla, coconut milk, and salt.
- When the cupcakes are completely cooled, use a butter knife or small offset spatula to swirl the frosting lavishly over the top. Sprinkle with the shredded coconut, pressing it gently so it adheres, and serve.
MAKE AHEAD: The cupcakes can be made and frosted up to 1 day ahead of time. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Note: Adding cornstarch to the flour mimics cake flour, which makes a lighter and more delicate cake.
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You can find Once Upon a Chef here.
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