Make these Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes with Macadamia for a fun Easter treat! The cupcakes are incredibly soft, moist and fluffy, with a creamy and light coconut buttercream frosting. They’re perfect for Spring. This post is sponsored by MacFarms® but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Chocolate cupcakes are one of my absolute favorite treats. And chocolate and coconut is such a great flavor combo. Create an unexpected surprise by adding in some macadamia nuts! Topped with a light and creamy coconut buttercream frosting, and you’re ready for Easter.
These macadamia coconut chocolate cupcakes are not simply chocolate cupcakes with coconut frosting. They have toasted macadamia nuts and toasted coconut in the batter which add a little crunchy texture and a fun coconut flavor. Of course, we can’t forget the creamy frosting with shredded coconut for even more coconut flavor.
For decorations, I added three milk chocolate macadamia nuts to get the “Easter egg nest” look. But they are also perfect for everyday occasions. I know you’ll love them!
Ingredients and Substitutions
A full list of ingredients and quantities are included in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here are some notes and substitution tips for each of the ingredients I used. First, for the cupcakes:
- Macadamia nuts – Plain toasted macadamias are used in the cupcake batter for a little crunch and texture. If you want to skip this, increase the amount of toasted coconut.
- Toasted sweetened shredded coconut – is used in the cupcake batter to enhance the “coconut” flavor of these cupcakes. I would not recommend omitting or substituting this.
- Flour – I use all purpose flour. If you want to make this gluten free, try Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur gluten free flour. Readers have successfully substituted gluten free flour in some other recipes. However, I have not tried it with this particular recipe.
- Cocoa powder – I prefer Dutch-processed cocoa powder when it comes to making a very dark chocolate cupcake. But I have used half natural cocoa powder and half Dutch-processed in this recipe and they come out just fine. This recipe also calls for coffee to further enhance the chocolate flavor. If you don’t plan to use coffee, I would definitely opt for 100% Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
- Leavening agents – I use both baking soda and baking powder. The baking soda will be activated by the acidity in the brown sugar and coffee.
- Salt – I always use kosher salt in all my recipes. If using table salt, use half as much.
- Sugar – light or dark brown sugar will add flavor depth and richness to these cupcakes. But if you don’t have brown sugar, you can substitute granulated sugar 1 to 1.
- Egg – I’m using 2 eggs in this recipe to ensure good binding for the macadamia nuts and coconut in the batter.
- Oil – I only call for vegetable or canola oil in this recipe because they are the most typical flavorless oil everyone uses and likely already have in their kitchen. However, if you want additional coconut flavor, you could use coconut oil instead. If using coconut oil, you may need to melt it before measuring since coconut oil tends to be solid at room temperature.
- Coconut milk – make sure to use full fat canned coconut milk in this recipe and not the watery carton version. If you have to substitute, buttermilk will work just fine, or half milk + half yogurt or sour cream.
- Vanilla – pure vanilla extract is used to enhance the flavor so the cupcakes do not taste “flat”.
- Hot coffee – it’s important to use “hot” coffee to bloom the cocoa powder in the batter to enhance the chocolate flavor. If you don’t like using coffee, you can replace hot water instead. I used salted caramel flavor coffee in this recipe for a hint of toffee in the cupcakes but regular coffee will work just fine.
Now for the coconut buttercream frosting:
- Butter – start with unsalted butter just like a typical American buttercream frosting.
- Coconut milk – instead of using milk or cream to lighten this buttercream, we will use full fat canned coconut milk. This will impart a very light coconut flavor to the buttercream. If you have to substitute, half and half (or half cream half milk) will do the job. Again, don’t use the watery carton coconut milk.
- Powdered sugar – as usual, powdered sugar is used to sweeten the buttercream.
- Vanilla – a little bit of vanilla extract will add more flavor to the buttercream. If you’re not using coconut milk, double the amount of vanilla extract called for.
- Salt – just a couple of pinches to add flavor nuance.
- Sweetened shredded coconut – use the non toasted version of shredded coconut to cover the frosting for more coconut flavor and also to create the Easter egg nest.
- Milk chocolate macadamia nuts – for decorations in place of Easter egg candies.
For both the plain macs and milk chocolate macs in this recipe, I used my favorite brand, MacFarms. Use the code “wildwildwhisk” for 25% off at their online shop..
How to make Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes Step-by-Step
Make the cupcakes
- Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda.
- Add salt, toasted/finely chopped macadamia nuts, toasted sweetened shredded coconut, and whisk to distribute evenly.
- In another mixing bowl, add eggs, oil, coconut milk, vanilla extract, and beat thoroughly with a whisk.
- Add brown sugar and beat until well mixed.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient mixture, and mix until just a few streaks of flour are left.
- Add hot coffee into the batter and stir until completely combined.
- Divide batter among 14-15 lined muffin cavities using a large cookie scoop.
- Bake one pan at a time at 350°F for about 17 minutes. Allow to cool.
Make the coconut buttercream
- Add softened butter, coconut milk, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt to your stand mixer, fitted with the balloon whip, stir until combined.
- Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 5-10 minutes until fluffy. Scraping the sides of the bowl half way through.
Decorate the cupcakes
- Add frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and add a big dollop of butter cream on top of each cupcake.
- Use a small offset spatula or butter knife to flatten out the top and clean up the edges.
- Roll the side of the frosting in sweetened shredded coconut.
- Top each cupcake with 3 milk chocolate macadamia nuts to make the “Easter egg nest” if desired.
Baker’s Tips & FAQs
How can I make these coconut chocolate cupcakes dairy free?
The cupcakes are already dairy free in this recipe if you stick with coconut milk without any substitution. You will need to substitute the coconut buttercream with this coconut whipped cream, made with just coconut cream. And also omit the milk macadamias decoration to make the whole thing dairy free.
How to make the coconut buttercream more flavorful?
I used coconut milk to infuse a light coconut flavor into the buttercream along with the shredded coconut on top. However, you may find that the coconut flavor is too light for your liking. If this is the case, you can add coconut extract to your buttercream to amp up the flavor. However, I assume this is not something everyone will have on hand or use all the time so I didn’t include it in this recipe.
Can I make this recipe into a cake?
You can easily turn these chocolate coconut cupcakes into an easy chocolate coconut cake by baking this recipe in a square baking pan similar to this olive oil chocolate cake. You’ll need to increase baking time to 25-30 minutes. Once the cake is cooled, simply spread your frosting on top and sprinkle liberally with shredded coconut.
You could also turn this recipe into a 2-layer 6-inch cake like this mini chocolate cake if you have two 6” round cake pans and want something a little fancier than a snack cake. You’ll need to increase baking time to 20-30 minutes. The frosting in this recipe will probably be enough to frost the cake very lightly. If you want thicker frosting, you may want to increase the frosting recipe by 1.5 times. Once frosted, add shredded coconut to the sides and top of the cake.
How can I make these ahead of time?
Sometimes I get questions from readers about making the batter the day before. I don’t recommend making the cake batter way ahead of time and not baking it right away because baking soda is used as one of the leavening agents. However, I do notice that the cupcakes rise higher when the batter has some time to rest before going into the oven.
If you want to make this ahead of time, here are a couple of tips:
- Make the cupcake batter and bake the same day. The cupcakes, unfrosted, can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Make the coconut buttercream frosting the next day or well ahead of time. The frosting can be kept refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to 3 months. Let come to room temperature and re-whip until fluffy before using.
Storing coconut chocolate cupcakes
Once frosted, if not planning to serve the same day, these cupcakes should be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They will last 3-5 days. Let them come to room temperature before serving so the frosting has time to soften.
They can also be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, first refrigerate until the frosting hardens, then wrap each cupcake well in plastic wrap and store them in a freezer bag. To serve, unwrap the cupcakes and let them defrost at room temperature for 1-2 hours before serving.
More delicious chocolate cake
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
- Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting
- Oreo Cake
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake
- Mocha Cake
- Chocolate Coconut Muffins
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📖 Recipe card
Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- ½ cup macadamia nuts (toasted and finely chopped, 63 g)
- ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut (toasted, 40 g)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (130 g)
- 6 tablespoon cocoa powder (Dutch-processed preferred, 35 g)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (use a rounded ¼ teaspoon)
- 1 cup brown sugar (200 g)
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup oil (vegetable or canola oil, 50 g)
- ½ cup coconut milk (or buttermilk, 115 g)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup hot coffee (salted caramel flavor, 115 g)
For the frosting:
- 8 oz unsalted butter (room temperature, 227 g)
- ½ cup coconut milk (or half and half, 115 g)
- 1 ½ cup powdered sugar (150 g)
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 pinches of kosher salt
- ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut (or more for garnish)
- Toast the macadamia nuts in a skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly brown and fragrant, set aside to cool down. Chop them finely using a knife and a cutting board or a food processor.
- Toast the sweetened shredded coconut in the same skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and brown, set aside to cool down.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda. Add salt, macadamia nuts, coconut, and mix to distribute evenly.
- In a large mixing bowl, add eggs, oil, coconut milk, vanilla extract, and beat thoroughly with a whisk. Add brown sugar and beat until well mixed.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient mixture, and mix until just a few streaks of flour are left.
- Stream the hot coffee into the batter and stir the batter while the coffee is streaming in. Mix until completely combined. Set the batter aside while the oven preheats.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line 14-15 muffin cavities with cupcake liners. You’ll need 2 muffin pans or you can wait for the first batch to finish baking before baking the remaining 2-3 cupcakes.
- Fill each muffin cavity with 1 full scoop of batter using a large cookie scoop or just fill it about ¾ full.
- Bake one pan at a time for 17-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing them from the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack.
- Make the frosting: add softened butter, coconut milk, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt to your stand mixer, fitted with the balloon whip, stir until combined. Then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 5-10 minutes until fluffy. Scraping the sides of the bowl half way through.
- Add frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and add a big dollop of butter cream on top of each cupcake. Use a small offset spatula or butter knife to flatten out the top and clean up the edges.
- Roll the side of the frosting in coconut and top each cupcake with 3 milk chocolate macadamia nuts to make the “Easter egg nest” if desired.
- I use salted caramel flavor coffee in this recipe which gives the cupcake a toffee note. You can use regular coffee.
- I find that the cupcakes rise higher when the batter has rested a bit before going into the oven, as little as 10 minutes and up to half an hour.
- See blog post for more tips and FAQs.
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