Lemon-Filled Coconut Cupcakes

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I made these lemon-curd filled coconut cupcakes with 7-minute frosting for my lovely friend Marnie in celebration of her l’il sprout, whose much anticipated arrival is expected later this month.  Marnie is a strong contender for cutest pregnant lady ever.

I co-hosted a baby shower for her a couple of weekends ago. She opted to keep the baby’s sex a surprise, so rather than exhausting ourselves with originality, her mom and I went with classic, gender-neutral yellow as the party’s theme colour.

Yellow balloons, yellow duckies, yellow cupcakes.

These cupcakes have a double hit of coconut: sweet, creamy coconut milk as the liquid; and fragrant, nutty toasted coconut folded in. Toasting the coconut, although it is an extra bit or work, is absolutely worth the effort. It makes a huge flavour impact.

The lemon curd filling is not the traditional version. I used my no-fail method that includes thickening water with cornstarch before adding egg yolks and lemon. It’s a bit less rich, but just as tart, creamy and delicious. It’s more along the vein of lemon pudding. You may be tempted to lick the bowl clean before the cupcakes are out of the oven. Hide it in the back of your fridge.

The icing on the cake is a billowing, marshmallow-y 7-minute frosting that nudges the whole situation into tropical-lemon-meringue territory. It is also my favourite topper for moist chocolate cake.


For cupcakes:

  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, separated
  • 3 cups (13.5 ounces/400 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups coconut milk (1-398 mL/13 oz can)

For lemon filling:

  • 3 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp (1.5 ounces) cold butter, cut in small chunks
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

For frosting:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


To make cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spread coconut in a rimmed baking dish and bake until golden brown, watching very closely and shaking dish occasionally, for about 4 minutes total. Spread on a plate to cool.
  3. Prepare two 12-cup muffin tins by lining with paper liners or greasing well with butter.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in vanilla extract.
  6. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the coconut milk. Repeat, ending with the flour mixture, and beating only until incorporated. Fold in 1 cup of the cooled, toasted coconut. Reserve remaining 1 cup coconut for decorating the cupcakes.
  7. Divide batter evenly among 2 12-cup muffin tins and bake 22-25 minutes, or until top is springy when gently pressed. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely.

To make curd:

  1. Whisk corn starch into 1/3 cup of the cold water in a glass measuring cup. Transfer a medium saucepan and slowly whisk in the rest of the water. Add sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles and thickens to a gel-like consistency. Reduce heat to low.
  2. Stir a few tablespoons of the hot corn starch mixture into the egg yolks, a few drops at a time, whisking constantly. This prevents them from curdling. Whisk yolks into the remaining corn starch mixture and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, 2 minutes.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in cubes of cold butter until melted. Whisk in lemon zest and juice. Transfer to a bowl and chill until ready to use.

To make frosting:

  1. Combine all ingredients except for the vanilla in a heatproof bowl set inside a pot of rapidly simmering water. Using electric beaters, whip the egg white mixture until glossy and stiff peaks form – about 7 minutes. Lift the bowl several times during this time to ensure the simmering water is never boiling or touching the bottom of the bowl (which would cause the frosting to become grainy). Remove from heat and beat in vanilla extract. You may decorate the cupcakes while the frosting is still warm.
  2. To assemble, use a paring knife to cut a well in the centre of each cooled cupcake, about 3/4 inch wide and 1/2 inch deep. Fill each with about 1 tbsp lemon curd, spreading it over the surface of the cupcake. Pipe or spoon the frosting on top of the lemon curd, and sprinkle with remaining toasted coconut.

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