Spiced Coconut Cupcakes

Yield: 18 cupcakes
Recipe: 124/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 140


    I had been craving cupcakes since the beginning of the quarantine and had yet to bake some. Normally I would go for moist comforting chocolate cupcakes, but yesterday I decided to try something new and made these spiced coconut cupcakes. The spice blend for this recipe seemed interesting and I was quite curious about the black pepper. I don’t think I’ve ever used black pepper in a dessert recipe before! Turns out that it works very well indeed.

Ingredients for cupcakes:

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons cake and pastry flour *
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon fancy molasses
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, separated

Ingredients for frosting:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • Sweetened flaked coconut, for garnish

* You can substitute  1 cup of cake and pastry flour with 1 cup minus two tablespoons of all purpose flour  supplemented with two tablespoons of cornstarch.

    I really enjoyed making these cupcakes. Folding the whipped egg whites into the liquid mixture was quite therapeutic for me and I loved the texture of the batter. It was quite thick for a cupcake batter but made for lovely tender and bouncy little cakes. I thought the frosting was a bit too sweet on its own due to the icing sugar and because I kept adding a little bit at a time to try to get the right consistency for the frosting, but with the cupcake together it is the perfect balance. This is one of my favorite recipes I’ve tried recently, and I’ve made quite a few! These cupcakes were simply delicious and, guess what, they go very well with tea. My boyfriend and I enjoyed them so much that we were singing “it feels good… like sugar and spice” (on the beat of “I Feel Good” by James Brown of course) while eating them. We were very amused by the pun and by how fitting the song  is for these cupcakes.


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper or silicone liners.
  2. Sift the flour, ½ cup of sugar, the brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl and whisk together to combine.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the oil, buttermilk, molasses and vanilla extract. Beat for one minute with electric beaters or vigorously by hand with a whisk.
  4. Add the egg yolks and beat for another minute.
  5. In a separate bowl and using clean beaters, whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually, pour in the remaining ½ cup of sugar and whip until the whites hold a stiff peak.
  6. Gently fold the whites into the batter and spoon into the muffin cups.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when pressed gently. Allow them to cool in the tin.
  8. For the icing, beat the butter until fluffy. On low speed, beat in 1 ¾ cups of the icing sugar, then add the coconut milk. Beat in the vanilla and coconut extract (if using), then beat in the remaining 1 ¾ cups of the icing sugar. If the icing is too thin, add a touch more icing sugar, and if it is too thick, add a bit more coconut milk. Spread the icing onto the cupcakes and garnish with shredded coconut. Sprinkle each cupcake with flaked coconut as a garnish.
    • Note: I tried spreading the frosting on the cooled cupcakes using a spatula and found it to be tricky because the frosting was not as thick as I would have liked (and I didn’t want to add even more icing sugar for fear of it becoming to sweet). What I found worked well for me is to invert the cupcake and dip it directly into the frosting to coat the top completely. I let it harden a bit on each cupcake and repeated once more to have a nice layer of coconut frosting. Sprinkle with the flaked coconut after the second coating and voilà! Delicious spiced coconut cupcakes.