These Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cupcakes are the perfect indulgent yet elegant dessert. A moist and fluffy cupcake sponge topped with luxuriously creamy frosting and fragrant coconut!
Some readers have been asking whether my Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cake can be made into cupcakes, so I've decided to give Coconut Cupcakes a go!
Why you'll love these Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cupcakes:
- they're undetectably vegan and gluten-free
- they're refined sugar free
- they're amazingly tender and fluffy
- they're covered in a seriously rich coconut frosting
- they're simple to make
- they come together in just one bowl
- they take just 35 minutes to make
- you'll only need a handful of uncomplicated ingredients.
They work well for lots of different occasions like:
- baby showers
- and anything else!
Substitutions you can make to the recipe
The recipe for the cupcake batter is versatile, and it can be adapted to suit your preferences or dietary requirements:
- you can use any type of oil: coconut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil
- you can use any type of plant-based milk: almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, cashew milk, oat milk etc
- you can use any type of liquid sweetener: maple syrup, agave syrup, brown rice syrup etc
- you can substitute the ground almonds (almond meal/almond flour) with ground walnuts
- for a nut-free version: substitute the ground almonds (almond meal/almond flour) with ground sunflower seeds or use 30g (¼ cup) coconut flour instead of 150g (1 ¼ cup) ground almonds
- make sure to use an all-purpose shop-bought gluten-free flour blend (or a homemade gluten-free flour blend), as opposed to just using any type of gluten-free flour you can find (such as almond flour, coconut flour, buckwheat flour etc). If you’re not gluten-free, you can use plain flour, wholemeal (whole wheat) flour or spelt flour instead of the gluten-free flour
- I decided to keep it easy with a simple vanilla sponge, but if you want extra coconut flavour you can add some coconut extract. My problem with coconut extract is that I don't use it much so wouldn't want to buy a whole bottle just to use a few drops in these cupcakes.
I decided to make a simple coconut frosting using coconut whipped cream sweetened with a little maple syrup.
How to make the coconut frosting:
- Keep your tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight (or for at least 12 hours) for the rich creamy bit to separate from the watery bit at the bottom
- Make sure you use full-fat coconut milk, otherwise this separation won’t happen and you won’t be able to whip it up
- Open the tin upside down – the coconut cream will be at the bottom and you can just pour off the watery liquid
- Save the watery liquid you pour off for adding to soups or smoothies
- Place the thick, creamy part into a bowl along with the maple syrup and vanilla extract
- Use an electric whisk (or a manual one and a lot of elbow grease) to whip up the frosting until light and fluff
- Make sure the cupcakes have cooled completely before applying the frosting, otherwise it will melt
Tip: The recipe below yields a medium-sized amount of frosting per cupcake. However, if you do want to apply a generous amount of frosting (like in my photos), I’d recommend doubling the amount of frosting.
Then all you need to do is sprinkle over a heap of nutty, sweet, fragrant desiccated coconut. You can use toasted desiccated coconut (like for my Coconut Cream Pie), but I like to keep it easy and just use desiccated coconut straight from the packet!
Equipment you'll need to make these Coconut Cupcakes:
- glass mixing bowl – for mixing the cupcake sponge batter
- measuring jug – for measuring out the plant-based milk
- muffin/cupcake tin – for baking the cupcakes
- cooling rack – to leave the cupcakes to cool on before applying the frosting
- electric whisk – for whipping up the coconut cream to make the coconut frosting
- a knife, a spatula, or a piping bag - to apply the frosting, depending on how fancy you want to be
How long do these Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cupcakes keep for?
Although these cupcakes do taste best when fresh, they do keep well covered in the fridge for up to a few days. For super fluffy frosting, make the frosting fresh and top the cupcakes with it just before serving – the frosting does set well, however, and frosted cupcakes will keep their shape and texture for up to a few days in the fridge.
More gluten-free vegan cupcake recipes:
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d really love to hear any feedback! Please give it a rating, leave a comment, or tag a photo @rhiansrecipes #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! Thank you.
Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- 60 g (¼ cup) coconut oil (or sub olive or vegetable oil)
- 200 ml (⅘ cup) unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 8 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 150 g (1 ¼ cup) ground almonds (almond meal) *
- 150 g (1 ¼ cup) gluten-free flour blend (or sub plain flour if not gluten-free)
- 2 heaped teaspoons (2 heaped teaspoons) baking powder (ensure gluten-free if necessary)
- ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
For the frosting**:
- 400 g (14 oz) tin of full-fat coconut milk ***
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup (or sub any other sweetener)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 teaspoons desiccated coconut
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Place the coconut oil in a large bowl and melt over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave (skip this step if using any other oil)
- Once melted, add the milk to the same bowl along with the lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and ground almonds
- Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
- Mix well, adding a tiny splash more milk if it’s looking too dry
- Transfer mixture between 12 cupcake cases in a cupcake tin
- Bake in oven for around 15 minutes until risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean
- Once out the oven, transfer cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool completely before applying the frosting
For the frosting:
- You’ll need to keep your tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight for the rich creamy bit to separate from the watery bit at the bottom. Make sure it is full-fat coconut milk, otherwise this separation won’t happen and you won’t be able to make this cream!
- Open the tin upside down – the coconut cream will be at the bottom and you can just pour off the watery liquid (save this for adding to soups or smoothies)
- Place the thick, creamy part into a bowl
- Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract
- Use an electric whisk (or a manual one and a lot of elbow grease) to whip up the coconut cream until light and fluffy
To frost and decorate the cupcakes:
- Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a knife, spatula or piping bag to apply an even amount of frosting to each of the cupcakes
- Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of desiccated coconut over each cupcake
- Best when fresh, but keeps well covered in the fridge for up to a few days
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