Coconut Cupcakes

Coconut Cupcake Recipe

By: Linda Edson

I am all about food that is steeped in family tradition. Food has the power to evoke so many memories and feelings, to take us back to a specific time and place. Research has shown that eating engages more of the brain than any other activity, and no wonder- it involves all of the senses and locks those memories firmly in place. These cupcakes have that power. My earliest recollection of them revolves around a childhood illness. My sister and I had the misfortune of contracting chicken pox as children- not once, but twice! I believe it is the second round that involved these cupcakes, and it also involved Valentine’s Day.  We were sick and missing our school celebrations, and our mother did something special to make up for it. I believe the recipe came from the newspaper. That may not have been the actual first time she made them for us, but afterward, they always reminded me of chicken pox, winter, and Mom trying to ease our suffering. With my own children, I have carried on the tradition of making these- usually around Valentine’s Day, but sometimes not until Easter. Happily, I do not think any of my children associate them with illness! They always make me feel special!


  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup shredded coconut, plus additional for topping frosted cupcakes

Heat oven to 350⁰. Cream shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg whites. Sift dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk to creamed mixture just until all ingredients are incorporated, ending with milk. Do not overmix! Gently fold coconut into batter. Scoop batter into lined cupcake pan, filling liners ½ full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Basic Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. of milk (to desired consistency)

Food coloring as desired (I prefer gel food coloring, as it does not alter the consistency of the frosting and has much more vibrant color. These are traditionally pink in my house!)

Cream sugar and butter. Add vanilla. Gradually add milk until desired spreading consistency is achieved.  Frost cupcakes with a generous layer of frosting, then dip in coconut to coat the top.

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Linda Edson has spent three decades honing her culinary skills as a mother of five.  She enjoys sharing her passion for good food with her students as a high school culinary instructor.  She draws inspiration from her family, local farmer’s markets, a vast collection of cookbooks, and a cultural heritage that includes French, Danish, and Menominee Indian.