Recipe: Passionfruit Cupcakes with Lemon Coconut Butter

I wasn’t going to bake anything for the Movember morning tea.  I mean, really – I’ve donated to all the Mo Bros on my floor, and surely, surely in the name of men’s health the boys can take a turn at baking?*

Well, it turns out that some of them can, but not enough for our purposes.  And when it comes down to it, faced with a conflict between ‘really, why should the women be baking for all the men’s health days *and* all the women’s health days too?’ and ‘but what if there isn’t enough food?’, well, there really can be only one answer in the land of Cate.

Besides, I bet none of the boys were going to bring anything that was vegan.  And I have friends who are vegan.  So there.

Anyway, having not intended to bake, I then certainly didn’t intend to post a recipe, largely because I really wasn’t in a cooking mood (yes, it’s true I baked a fruitcake today, and made a hot lunch, and made dinner for tonight *and* started dinner for tomorrow, but most of this was about the fact that our heating has been broken and baking keeps the house warm), and also because I didn’t plan to do anything fancy. Aside from using the passionfruit powder I ordered from TasteBom and have been looking for a use for.

Also, when I did start making these cupcakes, I swapped them around in the oven too early, so most of them sank in the middle. 

Also, the icing came out beige.  And when I went to fix it, it wound up mustard-coloured. Which probably is a masculine colour, at least.  Most of the ugly ones seem to be, if you believe the clothing shops.

And yet… the crumbs of cake that were stuck to the tin were *amazing*.  Properly tangy and full of passionfruit flavour.  And then, the ugly, ugly icing is rich and lemony and smooth with a coconut creaminess to it… and altogether, my ugly duckling cupcakes… taste like swans?  Only vegan.  And not kind of tough and unpleasant-tasting, which I gather swan meat is.  And that right there, folks, is why some people shouldn’t be licensed to use metaphors.  Especially the clichéd kind, though I don’t think anyone can claim it was still a cliché by the time I was done with it.  Unappetising, yes.  Cliché, no.

Have I put you off yet?  I hope not.  These really are delicious cupcakes.  And you can’t see how ugly they are once they are in your mouth…

(Even that came out sounding vaguely unappetising.  I think I’d better stop with the describing and just give you the recipe)

(Also, unsurprisingly, there are very few photos, and they aren’t that good – this is because I wasn’t documenting as I went, and the light in the kitchen is bad…)

photo 2

* I strongly suspect that the appeal of Movember has nothing to do with men’s health and everything to do with growing the most gross moustache one can.  And I say this as someone who is actually mildly in favour of facial hair.  But some of the shrubbery currently to be seen in our lab should really not be encouraged.

Your Shopping List

1 1/3 cups caster sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
400 ml (1 standard tin) light coconut milk
3 lemons
40 g freeze-dried passionfruit powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

2 – 2 1/3 cups raw icing sugar

90 g virgin coconut oil, melted (you want the virgin stuff because it has a strong coconut taste – the refined version is too neutral here)

Now what will you do with it?

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C fan-forced, and line two 12 cup muffin trays with paper cases.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, canola oil, coconut milk, the zest of two lemons and the juice of one (which should be around half a cup – if you need a little more, break into the second zested lemon), and the vanilla.

Sift in the passionfruit powder, as it has almost certainly clumped up.  Stir it in.  Don’t worry if there are still a few little clumpy bits.

Quickly mix in the flour, baking powder, bicarb of soda and salt.  You will have quite a lively, bubbly batter.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups.  Work as quickly as you can – you don’t want to lose all that lovely work the bicarb and baking powder are doing!

Put the trays in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until they pass the skewer test.  Don’t swap them around until at least the 10 minute mark, but if you do manage to make them sink in the middle, take heart from the fact that they will still taste excellent.

For the lemon coconut butter, melt the coconut oil, and sift in the icing sugar on top of it.  Add the zest and juice of the last lemon, and mix everything together until you have a consistency that will drop nicely from a spoon – this is a thickish icing, but not one you can pipe, quite.  You may need a little more icing sugar – I’m afraid I didn’t measure it because I wasn’t expecting to write up this recipe.  Essentially, you should adjust until you have the consistency you prefer.

You can colour this icing with food colouring if you like, but it might not help.

Drop a spoonful of the butter onto each cupcake.  Serve.

photo 3


This recipe is already vegan and nut-free, because that was sort of the point of the exercise.  It would work just fine with a gluten-free flour mix. Coconut milk is pretty high in fructose, but lemons and passionfruit aren’t too bad; you could use almond milk for the cake batter, but for the icing you’d be out of luck.  Cocoa butter, perhaps?  I’m not sure how the flavours would mingle.  Of course, if you are fructose intolerant but not vegan, you could simply make a lemon buttercream or a lemon curd using dairy or eggs.

In terms of flavour changes, replacing the lemons with limes or oranges might be nice, and any fruit powder that you think would go with lemon and coconut would also work.  I like putting fresh berries of whatever kind I have into lemony cakes, myself. This recipe is heavily based on the one for a lemon coconut bundt cake in Veganomicon, so you could also go back to that, and make a larger cake.

Oh, and you could use regular icing sugar, and avoid the whole beige icing scenario.  That would be my recommendation.

photo 1

I am submitting these cupcakes to this week’s Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love post – pop on over and see what other goodies are on there!


One year ago: My Weekend: World Vegan Day and Pots of Herbs
Two years ago: Warm Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Salad
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 comments for “Recipe: Passionfruit Cupcakes with Lemon Coconut Butter

  1. November 14, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    I think people were lucky that you baked – these look and sound lovely. Perfect for early summer too!

    • Catherine
      November 14, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      Thank you! Though early summer is a bit of a stretch – it’s been about 16°C all week, and while Melbourne is now toying with the idea of a few days in the low twenties, we will be back to 15 degrees by early next week.

      (at least we now have our heating fixed – I worked from home yesterday, waiting for the repair man, and it was so cold inside the house that I had to wear a coat and blanket…)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.