Bird’s Nest Coconut Cupcakes

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Good morning and a very Happy Easter!

Today a masterpiece of cuteness in the form of coconut cupcakes has graced this page.  I think they would even make Martha Stewart proud (If I do say so myself).

These cupcakes are fluffy, buttery, coconut-filled and moist, and then to top it off they have a Swiss meringue buttercream smoothed over the top.  Swiss meringue tastes slightly like a marshmallow, and so Swiss meringue + coconut = heaven.

Quick story: we had a Cupcake Wars competition on our family beach trip last year.  (Have you ever seen that show? It’s on Food Network and I’m a little obsessed with it.)  My cousins, sister, and I were grouped off into teams of 2 or 3, and then we had a legit competition with a time limit, theme, and mystery ingredients.  Guess who won? 🙂

To get to my point, I may have stolen this recipe from the opposing team because even though they didn’t win, their coconut cupcakes were amazing… We couldn’t stop eating the leftover ones.  I only changed up a few things in the cake batter, and instead of their regular buttercream I made the Swiss meringue.

Of course, the decorations are also different because well, Easter.  I did a rim of toasted coconut on the outside, and put Cadbury chocolate eggs in the center to look like a bird’s nest.  These would be perfect to decorate with little kids for an Easter activity!  I also made them in both mini and regular cupcake liners because it looks so cute when they’re assorted colors and sizes.

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Inside the batter, we have the usual suspects for dry and wet ingredients, along with some sweetened, shredded coconut and coconut milk.  You’ll add a tablespoon of vinegar to the coconut milk and let it sit for a few minutes before adding it to the batter, which is almost like making DIY coconut buttermilk.  Strange? Maybe.  But it works and it has two purposes: to add coconut flavor and add rise to the cupcakes.  (If you remember from those childhood experiments where you add vinegar to baking soda and it causes a reaction, this is the same thing here.  It’s just a part of the chemical leavening process for the cake.)  Ew, did I just say the word chemical in a post about cupcakes? Sorry, baking nerd here.

Once the cupcakes are in the oven you can make the buttercream.  It actually gets made over a double boiler in the first step, and just make sure to keep whisking it the entire time.  Don’t let it sit without whisking or you will end up with scrambled egg whites and sugar. :/ It happened to me and no, I don’t want to talk about it.

So that’s about it.  It’s not a hard recipe at all but it is rather time-consuming compared to others, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me when it comes to decorating!

Have a great Easter Sunday everyone!

“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

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Bird’s Nest Coconut Cupcakes

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Makes around 30 cupcakes

Prep Time 65 minutes

Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes


For the Cupcakes

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3 large egg whites

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Eggs for decorating


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place 7 ounces of coconut on a single layer on a tray lined with parchment paper.  Place in oven for about 5 minutes, and then take out and stir.  Put back in oven until toasted, (some pieces will be more browned than others which is fine) which will probably take another two minutes.  Let cool on the tray.  Change the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl, cream the room temperature butter and sugar on high speed for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy.  Add room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing until combined each time and scraping down the sides.  Beat in the vanilla.

3. Place vinegar in the cup of coconut milk, stir around, and let sit at least five minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients in three stages, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in 7 ounces coconut.

5. Line muffin pan with paper liners.  Fill each liner ¾ full with batter, and bake for 22-29 minutes until the tops are golden brown, a toothpick inserted comes out clean, and the tops spring back when gently touched.  Let sit on the counter for 10 minutes before removing to place on wire racks and cool completely.

6. Meanwhile, make the frosting.  On a double boiler that is slightly simmering over medium-low heat, add and continually whisk the sugar and egg whites until the mixture is no longer grainy but smooth.  Remove from heat, while still whisking, and then beat with a mixer on high speed for 5 minutes until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.  Once the bottom of the bowl has cooled completely, add a few chunks of butter at a time and beat to combine until all butter is incorporated.  Mix on medium-high speed for at least 5 minutes—it may separate, but if it does continue to beat on until it smooths out.

7. Use a knife to frost a layer of icing on each cupcake, and then top with toasted coconut around the rim and candy eggs.

Baker’s Notes:

a. Cupcakes last for up to four days when stored at room temperature in an airtight container. The frosting can be made a day in advance by keeping it in the refrigerator and then allowing it to come to room temperature and beating it on medium-high speed for five minutes before frosting cupcakes.