Strawberries and rhubarb go together like peanut butter and jelly. These strawberry rhubarb cupcakes with coconut frosting are light, fluffy, not too sweet, and incredibly tender. They’re everything you want in a summer dessert!
Why I love these cupcakes
I sought out to create a cupcake that was light, airy and reminiscent of vanilla sponge cake. This cupcake does the trick! It has strawberries and rhubarb folded in to make for a beautifully seasonal treat.
The frosting is made with coconut milk solids, softened butter, vanilla and powdered sugar. The frosting is piped or slathered on and the cupcakes are topped with shredded coconut.
I think you're going to love these strawberry rhubarb cupcakes with coconut frosting!
- Strawberries. You can use fresh or frozen for this recipe! They provide sweetness, that bright red color we all know and love and that classic berry flavor. They pair so well with rhubarb and together they make the best ever springtime desserts.
- Rhubarb. This vibrantly hued garden perennial makes a bit of magic itself. Characteristically, it’s a vegetable. It’s an edible plant with stalks and leaves. However, botanically speaking, it’s considered a fruit. (Also, unlike most veggies, you definitely want to avoid the leaves. They contain oxalic acid, which can make you ill. So, devour those stalks, but ditch the leaves!)
- A little more about rhubarb. Because rhubarb likes the weather on the cooler side, a good time to grab fresh rhubarb is in April or May. Depending on how cool the weather is, you may find rhubarb into the summer. Rhubarb is very tart, which is why pairing it with sweet strawberries and sugar is such a winning combination. Hello, tart sweetness! But, rhubarb’s tartness isn’t one note. It’s bright with a taste similar to sour green apples.
- Coconut Milk. Coconut milk is made by taking the meat of the inside of a coconut, cooking it in water and straining out the solids. Voila! You have deliciously creamy nondairy milk. Note: One of the great things about coconut milk is that until it’s opened it’s shelf stable. So, stock up on a few cans to keep in the pantry. It’s not only delicious for desserts, it’s fabulous in meat and vegetable curries, pumpkin soups, shrimp dishes, chicken dishes, in rice… My gosh, is there anything magical coconut milk can’t do? P.S. don't use the coconut milk you find in the milk alternative/dairy case - this will not work!
- Coconut Flakes: Sure, sweetened coconut has its place, but I find myself reaching for the larger unsweetened coconut flakes more and more. They’re low in carbs, high in fiber, and - let’s face it – they’re also pretty eye-catching and make a naturally stunning topping for desserts. But go ahead and use whatever dried coconut you have on hand!
Substitutions and Alternatives
- Berries. You could substitute out some of the rhubarb for blueberries for an even more eye-popping and flavor-bursting dessert.
- Rhubarb. If you can’t find fresh rhubarb in the produce section of the store, check out the freezer section. Rhubarb is frozen the day it’s picked, which means that you can have some farm freshness sitting right in your own freezer when rhubarb inspiration strikes!
- Flour. To make them gluten-free, use a gluten free all-purpose flour. For a higher fiber version, try a mix of whole wheat pastry flour and all-purpose flour.
- Milk. To make them dairy free, use a plant-based milk alternative instead of cow's milk.
If you really want to make a present to yourself from yourself, you could double the batch and freeze them. Just allow them to cool completely and freeze them in an airtight container.
I prefer to keep the cupcakes unfrosted when I freeze them. It just makes for simpler storage, because you’re not worried about squishing the frosting while flash freezing them in a single layer on a sheet pan before individually wrapping them, and getting them into an airtight container.
Again, that’s just me. But, because coconut milk is shelf stable, you can whip up a batch of frosting any time you like!
Mixing the strawberries and rhubarb with cornstarch before adding to the batter protects the batter from staining red. We want the vanilla cake to look like vanilla cake, and the cornstarch will coat the produce. You'll get juicy chunks of strawberries and rhubarb wrapped in a deliciously spongy vanilla cake! Just how we like our strawberry rhubarb cupcakes with coconut frosting!
Other Strawberry Recipes
- Strawberry Basil Bruschetta
- Spinach, Strawberry and Fennel Salad
- Skillet Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
- Strawberry Banana Cashew Smoothie
- Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars
- Strawberry Custard Tart
Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting
Light vanilla cupcakes with strawberries and rhubarb topped with sweet coconut milk frosting.
- Prep Time: 30 min
- Cook Time: 25 min
- Total Time: 55 min
- Yield: 12 cupcakes 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
Coconut Milk Frosting:
- 4 tablespoons softened butter
- 14-ounce can full fat canned coconut milk, chilled
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcakes:
- 1 ½ cups cake flour*
- ½ tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 4 tablespoons oil
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup diced rhubarb
- 1 cup chopped strawberries
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes or chips
- Be sure the coconut milk is chilled. If not, place it in the refrigerator at least 4 hours. Right before making the frosting, place the stand mixer bowl in to the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes (to chill).
- Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl and use a hand mixer to beat until fluffy. Open the can of frosting and spoon the fatty top into the bowl with the butter. Save the coconut liquid for another use. Beat on high until coconut is fluffy. While continuing to mix, slowly add powdered sugar, then vanilla extract. Whip until stiff peaks form. Place in the refrigerator to keep chilled until ready to frost.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt.
- In another medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the oil and granulated sugar with a hand mixer on medium high speed, until fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time, then vanilla extract, until incorporated.
- While beating on low speed, alternate adding ⅓ of the dry ingredient mixture and ⅓ of the milk to the butter mixture, ending with milk, until just incorporated.
- In the empty bowl (that was used to mix dry ingredients), combine rhubarb, strawberries and corn starch and toss to combine. Fold mixture into the cupcake batter. Use a cooke scoop or measuring cup to fill the cupcake liners almost all of the way. Bake 18-22 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let slightly cool, then remove from the cupcake tin and set on a wire rack to completely cool.
- Use a piping bag or Ziploc bag fitted with a tip to pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Sprinkle with coconut.
Substitution Tip: All-purpose flour can be substituted. It's best to sift it first, if possible.
- Serving Size: 1 cupcake
- Calories: 335
- Sugar: 21
- Sodium: 271
- Fat: 20
- Saturated Fat: 12
- Unsaturated Fat: 8
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 36
- Fiber: 1
- Protein: 3
- Cholesterol: 41
Keywords: spring, summer, easy, healthy, ideas, best, party, potluck