The lychee and coconut flavors in these cupcakes are subtle, but decidedly tropical. The cake texture is crumbly and moist. The chopped lychee and coconut provide interesting texture variation. The unfrosted cupcakes are delicious and not too sweet, perfectly yummy on their own.

The frosting was fantastic as expected, when is cream cheese frosting not? I added about a tablespoon of fresh ginger which provided some texture, but added more and more ginger powder until I was happy with the bite. I can’t say exactly how much I added, but its best to just add to taste. The burnt caramel sugar decorations added a nice crunch and another layer of flavor.

Overall, these cupcakes tasted pretty special… very multi-dimensional and flavorful. The recipe should be a good starting point for any combination of tropical flavors.

24 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup oil
25 grams coconut cream powder (1/2 pack) dissolved in 1/3 cup hot water
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces canned lychee fruit, drained and chopped
1 cup fresh coconut, grated (see note below on dealing with the fresh coconut)

1. mix flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium sized bowl
2. in a separate small bowl, beat eggs to break up
3. add oil to the eggs and mix to combine
4. add eggs/oil to the dry ingredients, mix to combine
5. add vanilla, lychee, and coconut to the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine
6. scoop into lined cupcake tins with an ice cream scooper
7. bake at 350 degree oven (325 convection) for ~20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean

Ginger-Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces or 1-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated or chopped fine
1 teaspoon ground ginger (the spice)

1. bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours
2. sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment
3. beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy
4. add 4 cups of the sugar and beat until combined
5. add gingers and beat until combined
NOTE: If you are not sure how much ginger taste you might like, start by adding half the amount and taste/adjust until you get the ginger flavor you like.
6. add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like

[optional] Sugar Decorations

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon glucose

1. put everything in a small saucepan over medium-high heat
2. stir until sugar dissolves
3. let boil until it reaches 320 degrees F, use a candy thermometer
4. brush down the sides with water as it boils (to prevent crystallization), don’t stir
5. prepare a small bowl of cold water to dip pan in once temperature is reached
6. transfer pan into bowl and quickly drizzle sugar syrup over a silicon mat or mold


1. chop some candied ginger to sprinkle on the cupcakes
2. scoop a dollop of frosting on to each of the cooled cupcakes
3. sprinkle candied ginger on top
4. place sugar decoration on top of that

[note] Ah, The Coconut

There was to be only one option, fresh coconut. Fresh is always superior to dried, no? First I took an ice chipper and a hammer and poked a couple of holes into the coconut.

fig. 1 poking holes

I set the coconut over a plastic container to drain.

fig. 2 draining

Then I took the coconut, wrapped it in a towel, grabbed a hammer, and relocated to the front stoop. There I preceded to bang on the coconut until the darn thing gave. That took some brute force. It had been a while since I cracked a mature coconut and it proved to be mildly frustrating.

fig. 3 cracked

The cracked coconut and I returned to the kitchen where the flesh was separated from the shell with a butter knife. The brown skin was peeled off the flesh with a vegetable peeler. The flesh was rinsed in cold water and 4 ounces was weighed into a tared bowl.

I opted for using a food processor to grate the coconut flesh. Given the amount of time I had already invested in the coconut, hand grating with a box grater seemed extravagant. I grated in small batches in the hopes of getting at uniformity. It worked out fine. I am not sure just how much better the fresh coconut is compared to bagged, as I didn’t try the second option. I can only hope it was worth the effort.

Printable, PDF-version of the recipe.

Leave a Reply