Easter Birds' Nest Coconut Cupcakes Recipe


Looking for an Easter dessert that the kids will love, but that's a little more sophisticated than the usual treats? We gave birds' nests cupcakes a sweet new look with shaved coconut tinted with pastel-colored edible luster dust instead of the usual food coloring. Luster dust (which can be found in the baking aisle of most craft stores) mixed with powdered sugar gives the coconut soft, shimmery color in any shade you desire. Top each cupcake with small candy eggs, like Cadbury Mini Eggs, to complete the nest. Or, if you're looking for a basic coconut cupcake recipe that is lighter and more tender than a boxed mix, this recipe fits the bill. We used coconut milk and extract in the tender cake and the rich and creamy coconut-cream cheese frosting. Whether garnished with nests or not, everyone will love the creamy coconut-cream cheese frosting and tender cake flavored with coconut milk.

Easter Birds' Nest Coconut Cupcakes
Photo: Cedric Angeles; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
2 dozen


Coconut Cupcakes

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 4 large eggs

  • 3 cups bleached cake flour

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup well-shaken and stirred coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 tablespoon well-shaken and stirred coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 (16-oz.) pkg. powdered sugar

Nest Garnish

  • 2 cups unsweetened shaved coconut, divided

  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, divided

  • Pastel-colored edible luster dust in two hues

  • Small candy eggs (such as Cadbury Mini Eggs)


  1. Prepare the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat butter with a heavy-duty stand mixer on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

  2. Stir together cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with coconut milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla and coconut extracts.

  3. Spoon batter into 2 (12-cup) muffin pans lined with paper baking cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin pans to wire racks, and cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  4. Prepare the frosting: Beat together cream cheese, butter, coconut milk, vanilla, coconut extract, and salt with a heavy-duty stand mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar on low speed until well blended. Increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy. Evenly frost cupcakes.

  5. Prepare the garnish: Place about one-third of the shaved coconut and 1/2 tablespoon of the powdered sugar in a ziplock plastic bag. Add a small amount of luster dust to bag, and seal. Shake bag to coat coconut. Add more luster dust, if desired, until preferred color is reached. Transfer coconut to a fine mesh strainer, and sift off excess powdered sugar. Transfer coconut to a small bowl until ready to use. Repeat process with half of remaining shaved coconut, remaining powdered sugar, and another color of luster dust. Reserve rest of coconut to leave uncolored. Transfer all coconut to a medium bowl, and gently stir to create a multicolored mixture.

  6. Top each cupcake with 1 to 2 teaspoons coconut, and lightly press an indention in center. Add 2 or 3 candy eggs to each nest.

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