While browsing chocolate cupcake recipes, I noticed that many used coconut oil and milk or milk alternative. It got me thinking. Why not use coconut milk in place of both instead? I ran the calculations, and the amount of fat was equivalent, so I decided to go for it. The result was rich, tender, moist, and delicious! They have the faintest hint of coconut, which I decided to own. I whipped up a dairy-free coconut frosting and it paired perfectly to create these dairy-free chocolate coconut cupcakes. These make a wonderful treat any time of year, but I baked them with spring and Easter in mind!
Dairy-Free Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting
You will love how easy these dairy-free chocolate coconut cupcakes are to make. I use just one mixing bowl for the entire recipe. All cupcake ingredients are added directly to that bowl. And when the cupcakes are baking, I do a quick hand wash of the bowl and use it to make the coconut frosting. Here are some more tips and options for this recipe, which is inspired by The Stay at Home Chef.
Choose the Right Coconut Milk!
Remember, coconut milk is a rich, thick, liquid made from coconuts and water that is sold in cans for cooking. It’s usually sold in the Asian section of supermarkets. Do not use coconut milk beverage, which is sold in large cartons and intended for drinking, cereal, etc. Coconut milk beverage will not provide enough fat for these dairy-free chocolate coconut cupcakes.
Use Basic Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
You’ll see it labeled in store as “Natural” or “Unsweetened” Cocoa Powder. It’s naturally dairy-free, and easy to find. I used a generic store brand. Don’t use Dutch-processed cocoa powder for this recipe. Unsweetened cocoa powder is more acidic, and reacts with the baking soda in this recipe. If you use Dutch-processed, your cupcakes won’t rise as much and might have a slight baking soda taste, which can be unpleasant.
Oil-Free Chocolate Coconut Cupcake & Frosting Options
The dairy-free chocolate coconut cupcakes themselves are oil-free, but I do use butter alternative in the frosting, which is oil based. For completely oil-free, I have a few alternative topping options:
- Coconut Whip – Buy two extra cans of full-fat coconut milk for my dairy-free coconut whipped cream recipe. You can use any leftover coconut water as the liquid in smoothies, pancakes, or other recipes.
- Chocolate Whip – This recipe is similar to my coconut whipped cream recipe, but it infuses cocoa. Pipe this chocolate coconut whipped cream recipe on your dairy-free chocolate coconut cupcakes and top with shredded coconut and mini chocolate chips!
- Chocolate Ganache – Melt one (10-ounce) bag of dairy-free chocolate chips with 1 cup canned coconut milk. You’re using the full-fat kind, but it’s okay to shake the can. You don’t need to use just the cream. Glaze the cupcakes and top with shredded coconut. Let the ganache cool and set up.
This rugged coconut frosting pairs well with extra toppings. I like to add a final sprinkle of shredded coconut, toasted or untoasted, and top with Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips. But for gatherings, I recommend pressing an Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Bar into the frosting on each cupcake. It’s a treat within a treat, and also a great way to call out allergy-friendly cupcakes for guests with special diet needs. I also scatter more Enjoy Life Minis around the cupcakes. For people who can’t eat the cupcakes, the individually-wrapped minis provide a sweet alternative! They offer Dark Chocolate, Ricemilk Chocolate, and Ricemilk Crunch Minis in regular and seasonal bags for the holidays (including Easter!).
Special Diet Notes: Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian.
- For egg-free and vegan chocolate coconut cupcakes, see our Egg Substitute Guide. Or, simply omit the eggs. The cupcakes will be a little less fluffy.
- For gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate coconut cupcakes, you can most likely substitute your favorite gluten-free baking blend. We haven’t tested it yet, but my friend swears by King Arthur Measure for Measure Gluten-Free Flour. If baking this recipe without gluten, I recommend using the eggs for best results, rather than an egg substitute.
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups sugar
- ¾ cup unsweetened / natural cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (regular / full fat)
- 2 eggs (see egg-free options above)
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) dairy-free buttery sticks
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla flavor or extract
- 1 to 4 tablespoons coconut milk, coconut cream, or milk alternative, as needed (see directions)
- 2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), plus additional for topping.
- Dairy-free mini chocolate chips or chocolate minis, for topping (optional; I use Enjoy Life)
- Preheat your oven to 325°F and line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners (bake in two batches if you only have one tin).
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Make a well in the dry mixture, and add coconut milk, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into the well. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Stir in the coconut, if using.
- Divide the batter between your lined cups, filling them close to ⅔ full.
- Bake the cupcakes for 22 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out relatively clean, with no batter clinging.
- Let the cupcakes cool completely.
- Place the buttery sticks in a large mixing bowl. If needed, let them soften a little.
- Sift in the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and add 1 tablespoon coconut milk or milk alternative. Blend with a mixer on low until the powdered sugar is mostly incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium, and mix until combined. Add more coconut milk, cream, or alternative, 1 tablespoon at a time, and mix, until it is creamy and whipped. With milk alternative, I use 1 to 2 tablespoons, with a rich coconut milk, I use about 3 tablespoons, and with coconut cream, I use a full 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup).
- Add the 2 cups coconut and mix to combine.
- Frost the cupcakes, and sprinkle a little more coconut, on top. top with dairy-free chocolate chips or press a chocolate mini into the frosting on each cupcake, if desired.
Cupcake Nutrition Facts (cupcake only, without frosting): Calories 126; Fat 4.7g; Sodium 161mg; Total Carbs 21g; Sugars 3.2g; Protein 2.1g