A coconut base cupcake filled with a chocolaty center and topped with cream cheese frosting is a combination made in heaven.
In the first bite, you will taste both the coconut cupcake base with the cream cheese frosting, then by the second bite, you will taste the coconut, the chocolate, and the cream cheese, and that’s when you will smile. The chocolate compliments the coconut, while the cream cheese balances the sweetness of both the coconut base and the chocolate. Give these gluten-free coconut cupcakes a shot, and I promise you won’t regret it.
I have made this recipe multiple times for my family and friends, and everyone loved it. The best part is no one knew it was gluten-free until I told them. I was deeply satisfied to know I could bake something that tastes so delicious that my gluten-eating friends (whom I envy sometimes…) wanted to eat. Anyways enough of me babbling; let’s jump into the science of each layer in these cupcakes.
Gluten-Free Coconut Cupcake Base
For the coconut cupcake base, we will be using a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. The one I use is by Bob’s red mill. I have tried this recipe with other gluten-free all-purpose flour blends, and it works fine. There was a slight change in the final cupcake texture but nothing major (still delicious). So, feel free to use whatever brand you have in your pantry.
The first time I made these coconut cupcakes, I did not use shredded coconut. The cupcakes tasted good, but I wanted to pop up the coconut flavor. Hence, the second time I made it, I cut down on the amount of flour I was using and replaced it with shredded coconut. The difference in flavor was huge.
To give these cupcakes a rise and a nice texture, we will be using baking soda, baking powder, and xanthan gum. The baking soda and baking powder will work to leaven the cupcakes. You will notice that the amount of baking soda used is small compared to the baking powder. This is because most of the ingredients used in the recipe are not acidic, and hence the baking soda (an alkaline compound) does not have an acid to react with.
So, what will the baking soda do? The baking soda will be helping the baking powder when the cupcakes are in the oven. The baking soda will decompose inside the oven due to the high temperature, which will produce CO2, inflating the cupcakes and making them rise. Cool right?
Meanwhile, the xanthan gum (a binding agent) will provide the cupcake with structure. The xanthan gum will make our coconut cupcakes fluffy, which we want since our flour mix does not have gluten. There are other substitutes for xanthan gum in the market. You can use psyllium husk or guar gum. I personally have never used psyllium husk or guar gum. I tend to use xanthan gum only because where I live, psyllium husk and guar gum are difficult to find.
Enough with the dry ingredients; let’s move on to my favorite part, the wet ingredients. The wet ingredients we will be using for the coconut cupcakes are butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and CANNED coconut milk. We will be mixing the vanilla extract with the canned coconut milk together and set it aside. Please do not use the boxed coconut milk as it is diluted with water. It will make these cupcakes mushy and tasteless. The canned coconut milk has less water and more coconut, which is what we want.
You will first start the process of making these coconut cupcakes by mixing the dry ingredients together and setting them aside. Then combine the canned coconut milk with the vanilla extract in a separate bowl.
In the stand-alone mixer, beat the butter and sugar until the butter is fluffy and light. Afterward, add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar to allow the sugar to absorb the egg content. Once all the wet ingredients are incorporated, add half of the dry ingredient mixture, followed by the coconut milk and vanilla extract mixture. Once that mixture is mixed, add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until all is combined.
The coconut cupcakes are filled with chocolate ganache. To make the chocolate ganache, you will need Nutella, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and heavy cream. Heat the heavy cream until it simmers, remove it from the heat, and add the Nutella and chocolate. Let the chocolate sit for a few seconds before mixing. Mix the ingredients until the ganache thickens.
Cover the ganache well and set it aside until it reaches room temperature before piping it. If you don’t cover the ganache, it will form a crusty layer on top which is really annoying to remove.
The ratio of chocolate to heavy cream that I used for this recipe is almost 2 to 1. I like the ganache consistency to be thick so that once it is inside the coconut cupcake, the cupcake doesn’t absorb the ganache. If you prefer a lighter consistency, try changing the ratio to 1.5 to 1.
Cream Cheese frosting
My favorite frosting is cream cheese frosting. It just tastes delicious and tends to complement almost anything. To make the cream cheese frosting, you will need cream cheese, sifted powdered sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla extract for flavor.
You will start by beating the butter, cream cheese, and salt together using a stand-alone mixer with a paddle attachment until the butter is fluffy. Then add the sifted powder sugar and beat at low speed, increasing the speed to medium-high speed. Beat the ingredients until everything is combined, then add the vanilla extract for flavor and mix.
Don’t overbeat the frosting. If you overbeat it, you will incorporate more air into the mixture, leading to a running consistency.
I made a short video to help you make these cupcakes. Enjoy!
Gluten-Free Coconut Cupcake
- 100 ml of Heavy Cream
- 165 grams of Nutella
- 40 grams of Unsweetened Chocolate Chips
- 184 grams of Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
- 20 grams of Shredded Coconut
- 1 ½ tsp of Baking Powder
- ¼ tsp of Baking Soda
- ¼ tsp of Salt
- ¾ tsp of Xanthan Gum
- 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
- 193 grams of Granulated Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- 138 ml of Canned Coconut Milk
- 120 grams of Unsalted Butter
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 110 grams of Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature
- 280 grams of Full-Fat Cream Cheese
- ⅛ tsp of Salt
- 330 grams of Sifted Powdered Sugar (Icing Sugar)
- 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
- In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream on the stove at low heat until it simmers.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and add to the saucepan the Nutella and chocolate chip cookies. Let the Nutella and chocolate chips set inside the heavy cream for 30 seconds.
- Using a whisk, mix the chocolate and heavy cream together until there are no lumps left and the mixture thickens.
- Cover the ganache well and set it aside until it reaches room temperature
- Mix your dry ingredients, flour, unsweetened shredded coconut, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum in a separate bowl using a whisk.
- In a separate bowl, mix the canned coconut milk and vanilla extract mixture and set it aside.
- In a stand-alone mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together at medium to high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Then lower the mixer speed to low speed and add the eggs one at a time until all the ingredients are combined.
- Add half the dry ingredients followed by the coconut milk and vanilla mixture and beat at low-medium speed until combined.
- Then add in the remaining amount of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Align your cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Using a spoon or a spatula, fill the cupcake liners about ⅔ full. The batter should give you exactly 12 cupcakes.
- Bake the cupcakes for about 17-19 minutes until the edges are golden or until a toothpick inserted at the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
- Let the cupcakes cool inside the cupcake pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to further cool. Do not decorate or apply cream cheese frosting to the cupcake until the cupcake’s temperature reaches room temperature.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a stand-alone mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 – 3 minutes.
- Now lower the speed of the mixer and slowly add in the sifted powder sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high speed and beat for 2 minutes.
- Add in the vanilla extract and beat at low speed until combined.
- Fill your chocolate ganache in a piping bag. Using a cupcake corer or the edge of a spoon, make an approximately 3 cm in diameter hole at the cupcake center. The height of the hole should be no more than ⅔ of the height of the cupcake. Fill the hole with chocolate ganache.
- Then top the cupcake with cream cheese frosting using any method you like. You can pipe it, spread it with a knife or spatula, up to you.
- Use unsweetened shredded coconut instead of sweetened shredded coconut. Using sweetened shredded coconut will make this recipe too sweet.
- Don't overbeat the cream cheese frosting, as this might ruin its consistency making it harder to pipe.