Chocolate Caramel Coconut Cupcakes

Bake my dark chocolate coconut blondies next.

Chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes with salted caramel filling, milk chocolate frosting, and fluffy coconut cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

We have lots of ground to cover today, so let’s jump right in.

Coconut + caramel + chocolate. Power trio! Today we’re making soft and fluffy coconut cupcakes that are filled with caramel (salted or unsalted, your preference) and topped with milk chocolate frosting and toasted coconut. And more caramel, if you desire. (Don’t you?) They’re overloaded and dreamy, undoubtedly rich and satisfying. Consider these a Samoas Girl Scout cookie in cupcake form. An Easter basket of candy inside a cupcake wrapper.

All good things, my friends, all good things.

Chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes with salted caramel filling, milk chocolate frosting, and fluffy coconut cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I took my simply perfect vanilla cupcakes and infused them with mega coconut flavor. It’s an easy and dependable vanilla cupcake recipe, climbing to the tippy top of my favorite cupcake list in the past 7 months. See it here as piñata cupcakes, peanut butter & jelly cupcakes, and as pistachio cupcakes.

I added coconut 4 different ways, each majorly important to the final taste and texture.

Here are the coconut changes I made:

  1. Half coconut oil + half butter. (1/4 cup each) Make sure the coconut oil is SOLID and cream it with the butter. This creamed fat will be the base of your coconut cupcakes.
  2. Canned coconut milk instead of whole milk. What a difference in flavor and texture! I used reduced fat and loved the results. Full fat works just as well. Give the can a good shake before using. Refrigerated coconut milk is more like a beverage and canned is more like a cooking and baking ingredient. I recommend canned for these coconut cupcakes.
  3. Coconut extract. Only 1 teaspoon does the trick to really get this coconut party started! The cupcakes were lacking a majority of their coconut flavor without it.
  4. Sweetened shredded coconut. You can hardly taste the texture in the baked cupcakes as it breaks down and absorbs the moisture. But the flavor is all there!

The coconut ingredients you’ll need are right here:

Chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes on sallysbakingaddiction.com

One thing to note: the coconut oil caused the cupcake wrappers to slightly separate from the cupcakes as they cooled. This certainly isn’t a problem and it’s not like the wrappers were actually falling off– they were just separating from the baked cupcakes on the sides. Again, this is because of the coconut oil in the cupcakes. And don’t worry! The cupcakes do NOT taste oily.

I’m not sure if it’s the creamed coconut oil, coconut milk, sour cream, egg whites, or the cake flour– or the combination of it all, but these coconut cupcakes are even fluffier and more moist than the original vanilla version. Probably the first cupcake I’ve ever made from scratch that literally melts in your mouth. They are so light!

Want to read more about the cake flour, sour cream, and egg whites? Here’s why they are so important in this recipe.

And one more thing… the coconut cupcake batter will be slightly lumpy from the shredded coconut.

Chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes on sallysbakingaddiction.com

And always remember this!

Fill your cupcake liners only 2/3 full. Less is more. 2/3 full isn’t a lot. In fact, you might even question yourself and be tempted to add more. Don’t give into the pressure! Don’t overfill those liners or you could end up with (1) mushroom looking oddballs, (2) cupcakes with crisp edges, (3) overflowed cupcakes, (4) cupcakes that sink, and the disappointing list goes on. Quite the opposite of the soft and fluffy cupcake goal.

Coconut cupcakes with salted caramel on sallysbakingaddiction.com

And now, the best part of all. Honestly, if I had to choose favorites in these chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes, it would be the salted caramel filling. You probably already know the filling we’ll use. It’s this salted caramel recipe! The same one used on these brownies, on this bundt cake, in this Snickers tart, and so much more. The caramel filling becomes thicker after a few hours, but will never turn super hard. (Unless you overcook it!) You have total control over the salt in the caramel, so feel free to reduce the salt if you prefer a sweet caramel as the filling.

We’ll fill the cupcakes the lazy way. Aka carve a hole, spoon the filling in, and place the carved piece back on top. The cupcakes are about 1.5 inches tall, so you’ll want to carve a 1 inch deep section of cupcake out. This can be roughly 1 inch, a little less is perfectly fine. The section of cupcake you remove will be the shape of a cone (see this post). I slice off a little of the narrow end of the cone because it won’t fit back on top with all the caramel inside. Does this make sense?

And now for the no-frills chocolate buttercream frosting. Butter, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, milk (or cream), and a pinch of salt. I’m sure you have each ingredient in your kitchen right now. Takes about 5 minutes to whip together and even less time to frost the cupcakes. I used my trusty Wilton #12 round piping tip. Place the tip directly on top of the cupcake, apply pressure, and slowly lift up. No swirling. Just pipe and lift. I’ll create a video for how I do that in the next couple of weeks, I promise!

Chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes with salted caramel filling, milk chocolate frosting, and fluffy coconut cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes with salted caramel filling, milk chocolate frosting, and fluffy coconut cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I cannnotttttttt handle this.

Chocolate Caramel Coconut Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (200g) cake flour, spoon & leveled1
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (55g) unrefined coconut oil, solid (not melted or liquid)
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup (120g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canned coconut milk, at room temperature2
  • 3/4 cup (60g) sweetened shredded coconut
  • salted caramel for filling, cooled for 30 minutes3
  • chocolate buttercream frosting for topping
  • optional: toasted coconut for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 3-4 liners - this recipe makes about 15-16 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and solid coconut oil together on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg whites, vanilla extract, and coconut extract. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the coconut milk and shredded coconut until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no large lumps stuck at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick with a few lumps of shredded coconut.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake for 19-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to cool completely.
  5. Fill the cupcakes: Using a sharp knife, cut a circle/hole into the center of the cooled cupcake to create a little pocket about 1 inch deep. This piece you removed will be the shape of a cone. Set it aside. Place about 1 teaspoon of caramel inside the cupcake-- or however much will fit. Slice off the pointy end of the "cone" piece of cupcake you removed so that it can fit on top of the filling. Repeat with all cupcakes.
  6. Prepare frosting and frost cooled cupcakes. I used the Wilton #12 round piping tip. Top with any leftover caramel and toasted coconut, if desired.

Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly in the refrigerator for 3 days. Frosted or unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.

Recipe Notes:

  1. If you cannot get your hands on cake flour, you can make a DIY version from all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. This equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe.
  2. See #2 in the written post about the canned coconut milk. For best flavor and texture, avoid using the refrigerated kind. Canned is best. It's usually in the international food section of any regular grocery store.
  3. If you prefer a sweet caramel filling as opposed to salted caramel, feel free to reduce the salt in the caramel recipe to 1/4 teaspoon. The caramel needs to cool for 30 minutes before using as the filling, so I usually make it when the cupcakes are cooling.

Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Did you make a recipe?

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer | 5-qt Tilt Head Glass Measuring BowlKitchenAid Hand Mixer | Cupcake PanCupcake Liners | Icing Bags | #12 Decorating TipWooden Serving Platter

You’ll also love my apple spice cupcakes with salted caramel frosting!

Moist and flavorful apple spice cupcakes finished with a salted caramel frosting. No mixer required! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pays me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes with salted caramel filling, milk chocolate frosting, and fluffy coconut cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes with salted caramel filling, milk chocolate frosting, and fluffy coconut cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

78 Comments

Comments

  1. Maria on March 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Holy coconut, caramel, and chocolatey goodness!!!  That filling looks to DIE for and coconut cake is amazing.  I personally am not a fan of coconut extract’s taste but I have a coconut cake recipe that I quite like and with your fabulous filling, I’m sure it would be even better! YUM! 

    • Monica on June 20, 2018 at 3:44 pm

      I made these with a few substitutions, I used 1/2 c sour cream instead of the 1/4 c coconut milk and 1/4 c sour cream, left out the coconut extract, added an extra 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and used AP flour minus 3 Tbl then sifted w/ rest of dry ingredients, instead of the cake flour. I have tried many recipes using cake flour and the flavor just seems off to me. I just don’t like the taste of it. So I try to sub AP flour. Anyone else ever notice this about cake flour? Anyway, my substitutions worked perfectly! These were soooo buttery, moist, and fluffy with just a slight coconut taste. They were perfect for my picky kids who don’t like coconut. I frosted them w/ the chocolate buttercream frosting but did not make the caramel (though I have made the caramel recipe before and it is insanely delicious), and they were still some of the best homemeade cupcakes I’ve made.

  2. Leah on March 23, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    I love coconut and always make a coconut cake for Easter. Do you think that if I put this batter in a 9-inch round at 350F until it is tested with a knife (I know it will take longer) it would work as a cake? Since they look so light and fluffy I wasn’t sure if it would hold up as a cake! Excited to try this recipe and especially the coconut cake base 🙂 yummmm!

    • Sally on March 24, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      A cake will work! There will be way too much batter for a single layer 9-inch cake and not quite enough for a double layer. So I suggest filling the cake pan halfway with batter and using the leftover for cupcakes. I’m unsure of the bake time for the cake.

  3. LouAnn on March 23, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Hey Sally! How imperative is it to do half butter, half coconut oil? I have coconut extract paste….. Can I just use all butter and use extra extract instead of buying a whole thing of coconut oil for a mere 1/4 cup? Your expertise is appreciated 🙂

    • Sally on March 24, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      You can use all butter. Extra extract is a great idea!

  4. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) on March 23, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    1-I just watched your about me video and it’s the cutest thing ever
    2-OMIGOSH Samoas in cupcake form, YESSS. That filling is perfection. Love ’em!

  5. liz on March 23, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    These look fantastic – definitely going to make them over the weekend!

  6. Emily on March 23, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Are there any substitutions necessary if you use unsweetened coconut? That was the only option available at the market.

    • Sally on March 24, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      nope! the cupcakes will still be plenty sweet

  7. Laura | Tutti Dolci on March 26, 2017 at 1:53 am

    You had me at all the coconut plus that salted caramel filling – utter perfection!

  8. Emma on March 26, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    OH MY WORD YES

  9. Cori @ Sweet Coralice on March 27, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Talk about packing a punch! I love using coconut cream as it really does amp up the flavor! These look absolutely rich and indulgent, which is something I’m in desperate need of!!! Love, Love, Love 🙂

  10. Michelle @ Modern Acupuncture on March 28, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    These look SO phenomenal! So light and fluffy 🙂

  11. zoe on March 30, 2017 at 7:15 am

    Hi Sally this recipe looks amazing, like all of your recipes!!! I want to half all of the ingredients though, should I also half the baking powder and baking soda?

    • Sally on March 30, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      I recommend halving each ingredient if looking to halve the recipe, yes.

  12. Dottie on March 31, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    We love Samoas and these look and sound sooooooo yummy!

  13. Julian on April 3, 2017 at 2:13 am

    Hi Sally! Happy Spring! These look phenomenal and I cannot WAIT to make these!

    Quick question regarding the 1/4 cup of solid coconut oil–should this be packed tightly, or lightly? 🙂

    Thank you so much! You are amazing!

    Best,
    Julian

  14. Prachi on April 17, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Ooh this looks so tempting. Any tips if I want to convert this to a cake ? I want to make birthday cake for my coconut loving spouse and this sounds so perfect (unfortunately he is not a fan of lemon or any citric flavour). It would be awesome if i could convert it to his bday cake.

    Cheers!

    • Sally on April 18, 2017 at 7:41 am

      Hi Prachi! I would make this white layer cake (based off of this cupcake base) and use coconut milk instead of regular milk, and half coconut oil/butter like I do in these cupcakes. You can use this chocolate frosting to frost and drizzle with salted caramel.

      • Prachi on April 18, 2017 at 8:46 pm

        Thanks a ton! I am definitely gonna do that 🙂 Super excited to try it out.

        Cheers!
        Prachi



  15. Gemma on April 20, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    WOW! I have just got to try these ASAP. They look absolutely delicious!

  16. Mary Czarnecki on April 22, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Sally! I CANNOT wait to make this AWESOME cupcakes! Quick question though. I just want to make sure the caramel sauce will be thick enough (but not hard) to fill the cupcakes. I don’t want it to run out of the cupcakes when someone bites into it. I’ve had problems with other caramel sauces that did run. Thanks for your time!

    • Sally on April 24, 2017 at 9:18 am

      This caramel isn’t thin– it’s thick and chewy, but not hard 🙂

  17. Anna on April 27, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Ok, so I’ve never commented on a blog before, but I just had to tell you that I just made 3 dozen of these little lovelies.  Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING about them is perfection —   From the texture of the cupcake (I was skeptical about that coconut in there but it works!) to the most AMAZING caramel you’ve ever put in your mouth — Absolute bliss!  I can’t wait to take them to our bible study group and share with our friends!

    Really, just wanted to say, “You really hit this one out of the park, Sally — Great Job!  Amazing!”

    By the way, I was overzealous with the caramel making and have about a cup of it left — I’m now scouring your site for other recipes that use this caramel.  There may be another scrumptious treat in the very near future for us!  Yay!

  18. Afra Shanaz! on April 27, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Hey!! I just read this recipe and now I wanna try this CCC heaven! (Get it, Chocolate, Coconut, Caramel>hehe) I am a young baker ( I am 14) and most of the recipes I try don’t work out. 🙁 There are a few questions I wanted to ask you.
    1. I don’t have cake flour, so can I use all-purpose flour instead?
    2. I don’t like the taste of Coconut extract so is Vanilla extract enough?
    Thanks!! I hope you reply.

    • Sally on April 28, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Afra! You should definitely try this recipe! You can make a DIY version from all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. This equals 1 cup of cake flour. I suggest doing this twice, mixing it all up in 1 bowl then removing 1/4 cup since you need 1 and 3/4 cups in this recipe. You can leave the coconut extract out if you don’t want them super coconuty 🙂

  19. Kate on June 21, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Hi Sally!  I want to make a tall coconut cake for my dad’s birthday and thought I might combine the lemon coconut cake recipe (for 3 fluffy layers) with the salted caramel filling / milk chocolate frosting in this recipe.  Would the salted caramel filling be sturdy enough between the cake layers or should I mix it with something else?

    • Sally on June 22, 2017 at 9:08 am

      It wouldn’t be as a cake layer filling– how about salted caramel frosting instead.

      • Kate on July 3, 2017 at 2:10 pm

        Hi Sally, your suggestion worked perfect! My parents both loved the cake and my dad said it was his favorite cake I have ever made. Thank you!! 🙂



  20. Bre on September 22, 2017 at 11:52 am

    I just made the homemade salted caramel last night that I plan to use a filling for some cupcakes I am making this weekend. I am making them Sunday for a party on Monday at work. I don’t want the caramel to be chewy on the inside of the cupcake though. If I store these in the fridge Sunday night, would the caramel soften back up if I set them out at room temperature for a few hours? Or do you have a suggestion of how I can keep the caramel center from being a chewy piece in the middle of my cupcake?

    It tastes great by the way!

    • Sally on September 22, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      It will soften back up. Keep them at room temp for several hours 🙂

  21. Grace on May 5, 2018 at 6:28 am

    I made these yesterday with a couple of tweaks. I left out the coconut extract (I live in Tokyo and it doesn’t seem to exist here).

    I also left out the Caramel sauce because it completely hardened after it cooled, did I do something wrong?

    They were still amazing and my friend said they were some of the best cupcakes he’d ever had!

  22. Sydney on June 5, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Hi Sally!! I have made these cupcakes before and absolutely loved them! I want to make them again in cake form, would the coconut cupcake recipe be enough for three 6 inch cake pans? Any idea how long to bake them? Then I was thinking I would fill with the chocolate buttercream and then in the middle of the cake make the buttercream a bit thinner and put salted caramel in it. Do you think that would work? Thank you, I am so excited to make this!!

    • Sally on June 7, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Sydney! I think that’s an AWESOME idea. This batter fits perfectly in 3 6-inch cake pans. The bake time is about 18-20 minutes. Make sure you line the cake pans with parchment and grease– exactly as I do here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2018/05/29/6-inch-funfetti-cake/

      Would love to know how your cake turns out!

  23. Sarah on June 16, 2018 at 7:49 am

    I very much want to make these cupcakes, but I live in Spain and they don’t sell sour cream here 🙁
    I’ve read else where that you an substitute sour cream with Greek yogurt. Would that work for this recipe?
    Thanks!

    • Sally on June 16, 2018 at 4:11 pm

      Hi Sarah! Yes, you can use plain yogurt (Greek style or regular) instead of sour cream.

Reviews

  1. Grace on May 5, 2018 at 6:28 am

    I made these yesterday with a couple of tweaks. I left out the coconut extract (I live in Tokyo and it doesn’t seem to exist here).

    I also left out the Caramel sauce because it completely hardened after it cooled, did I do something wrong?

    They were still amazing and my friend said they were some of the best cupcakes he’d ever had!

Questions

  1. Sydney on June 5, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Hi Sally!! I have made these cupcakes before and absolutely loved them! I want to make them again in cake form, would the coconut cupcake recipe be enough for three 6 inch cake pans? Any idea how long to bake them? Then I was thinking I would fill with the chocolate buttercream and then in the middle of the cake make the buttercream a bit thinner and put salted caramel in it. Do you think that would work? Thank you, I am so excited to make this!!

    • Sally on June 7, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Sydney! I think that’s an AWESOME idea. This batter fits perfectly in 3 6-inch cake pans. The bake time is about 18-20 minutes. Make sure you line the cake pans with parchment and grease– exactly as I do here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2018/05/29/6-inch-funfetti-cake/

      Would love to know how your cake turns out!

  2. Sarah on June 16, 2018 at 7:49 am

    I very much want to make these cupcakes, but I live in Spain and they don’t sell sour cream here 🙁
    I’ve read else where that you an substitute sour cream with Greek yogurt. Would that work for this recipe?
    Thanks!

    • Sally on June 16, 2018 at 4:11 pm

      Hi Sarah! Yes, you can use plain yogurt (Greek style or regular) instead of sour cream.

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