how-to: decorate dotty cupcakes

The other day I was craving cupcakes something fierce. Coconut cupcakes, to be precise. It was odd, because I don’t usually crave sweets (I’m more of a salty girl), and this craving wouldn’t go away, like, all week. So I obeyed, and made some coconut cupcakes.

I used this recipe, Vanilla Bean-Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting, from Bon Appetit. The interesting twist is that both the cake and the frosting call for reduced coconut milk, which you make by boiling down two cans of regular coconut milk till it’s thick and concentrated. I followed the recipe to the letter, except that I didn’t have vanilla beans on hand so I used vanilla extract, and it worked fine. I’d do the same if I were to make these again because I don’t think the bean would have made all that much difference, so probably not worth the cost.

Here’s a little tip. To avoid dreaded batter drips while filling cupcakes or muffins, I transfer the batter to a large zipper bag (place the bag in a big measuring cup to keep it in place while filling it), then snip the corner off the bag, and pipe the batter into the liners. No drips!!

Fussing with a piping bag can seem like an unnecessary step, but it’s actually really easy and often saves a lot of time in the end – for lots of tasks. I pipe everything I can, whenever possible.

Okay so here’s how you make the little dotted icing mounds. Use a large round pastry tip (I used a #12). First, pipe a circle of dots around the outside edge of the cupcake. Second, fill in the center area with more dots. Third, pipe a second layer of dots in a smaller ring, just inside the ring from step 1. Fourth, place one last dot in the very center.

This creates a cute little mound that’s very forgiving — you definitely don’t have to be perfect with your piping, just splash those dots in the general vicinity of where they need to be, and it’s all good.

I don’t like super thick frosting so I love that this method gives you a few bites with thick frosting and a few without. Win-win!

Patterned liners go a long way in making these simple cupcakes look special. I picked up mine at the greatest place in the whole wide world for a baker – New York Cake.

Overall I really liked this recipe, the cake was nice and moist and the frosting was easy to make and had a great texture for piping. The only negative is that there really wasn’t much of a coconut flavor. Which isn’t that big of a deal, unless you’re dying for coconut flavor… which you could probably get by adding a teaspoon of coconut extract to the batter.

Off to eat more cupcakes. ciao!

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  • Courtney

    Those look absolutely wonderful! Now I’m craving coconut cupcakes! Yummy! Just wanted to tell you I think your blog is delightful. Love your sewing book too and all the easy-to-follow tutorials you offer. Thank you for sharing your gifts!

    • Brett

      Thank you so much! :)

  • Robin

    Yum. I am going to try this! Why all the condensing of the coconut milk… That part is caring me off a little. Oh, I remember what I wanted to ask you- how do you get the cupcakes liners to stay looking good? I made some with fancy lines, and you couldn’t really see the pattern once they were baked, too oily.
    Thank you!

    • Brett

      hi Robin – the condensed coconut milk is just what this recipe uses for its liquid and to impart a coconut flavor. For the liners, I know the problem you’re describing, I’ve seen that happen too. The liners I used were slightly waxy, maybe that’s why they held their color better than some other brands. Good luck!

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