Coconut and Lime Cupcakes

Coconut & Lime cupcake


This recipe was inspired by a song written and first recorded by Harry Nilsson on his 1971 album, Nilsson Schmilsson.

I first heard it as the background music in a small bistro I used to waitress in, in my home town. NOT in 1971 I hasten to add – it was a good decade later – which…is still thirty years ago, so *ahem* moving quickly on….

It has a rather catchy/irritating chorus refrain…

Put the lime in the coconut, drink them both together,
Put the lime in the coconut, then you feel better,
Put the lime in the coconut, drink them both up,
Put the lime in the coconut, and call me in the moooooorning…..

…which has a habit of creeping into your brain and before you know it, you’re singing along. When I moved away to college, I ended up buying the album, as the song reminded me of fun times.

So it seemed an ideal combination for something else that’s fun – cupcakes! The opportunity arose a couple of months ago to come up with a couple of cupcake recipes and I remembered this song when pondering flavour combinations. The rest, as they say, is history: Soft and fluffy coconut sponge filled with a zingy lime curd. Confession: the swirl of Italian meringue on the top is merely an excuse for me to break out my Christmas present blowtorch and play with fire. “Say helloooo to mah leetle friend!” </scarface>

OK, so my blowtorch only stands 10cm high, but you get the idea.

This recipe has three components: the cake, the curd and the meringue. Of these three, only the meringue might be a little on the tricky side, but I’m going to share some helpful hints and tips I’ve picked up, to ease things along the path of success.

Coconut Cupcakes – makes 12
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
50g unsweetened dessicated coconut
80g soft margarine
180g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150ml plain yoghurt.

12 hole muffin/cupcake tin
12 cupcake paper cases
Frying pan

  • Heat oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan
  • Sieve flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and set aside.
  • Put coconut into a dry frying pan and stir over medium heat until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
  • Cream margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly in-between. Add vanilla.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and stir well. Add half the yoghurt. Stir well.
  • Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour and the remainder of the yoghurt.
  • Add the last portion of flour and, when thoroughly combined, stir in the toasted coconut.
  • Line a 12 cup cupcake tin with paper cases and spoon in the filling.
  • Bake for 15 minutes then turn the pan and bake for another 3-5 minutes, until evenly browned and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove cakes from the pan and cool on a rack.

Lime Curd
75g unsalted butter
3 large eggs
75g caster sugar
Juice of 3 or 4 limes (125ml)
zest of 1 lime

Small saucepan

  • Melt butter in a saucepan.
  • Add remaining ingredients and stir over low heat until thickened.
  • Set aside to cool.

Italian Meringue
100g egg whites (3 large)
pinch of cream of tartar
few drops of lemon juice
40g caster sugar
100ml water
200g caster sugar

Mixing bowl
small saucepan
sugar thermometer
piping bag
plain tip nozzle

  • In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk egg whites until foamy.
  • Add cream of tartar and lemon juice and continue whisking on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
  • With the whisk running, slowly add the 40g of caster sugar in a steady stream.
  • When the egg whites reach stiff peaks, stop the whisk until the syrup is ready.
  • In a heavy saucepan, gently heat the 200g of caster sugar and water, swirling the pan until the sugar is dissolved. NB Don’t stir, or the sugar will crystallise and you will have to start again.
  • Turn the heat to high and cook the syrup until the soft ball stage on a sugar thermometer (115°C).
  • Remove the pan from the heat and wait until the syrup has stopped bubbling. If you’re not confident about pouring boiling syrup from a hot pan one-handed, pour the syrup into a plastic jug.
  • Switch the whisk to medium speed and slowly pour the cooked sugar into the stiffly beaten whites. NB This is the tricky part. If you are pouring the syrup straight from the pan, be sure your oven gloves are thick enough so that your hand is fully protected. Pour the sugar syrup in a steady stream so that it hits the side of the bowl just above the point where the beaters meet the side of the bowl. This will achieve 2 things: the syrup will cool and this will help avoid cooking and/or curdling the egg-whites and the beaters won’t get covered in sticky syrup.
  • Once all the syrup has been added, continue beating the egg-whites until the outside of the bowl feels cool. This will take between 10 and 15 minutes.

To assemble the cupcakes:

  • With a sharp knife, cut a cone out of the top of the cupcakes and fill the hole with lime curd. Call dibs and scoff the leftover pieces of cake, claiming (om-nom-nom) cook’s priviledges Discard the cones of cake.
  • Spoon the meringue into a piping bag with a plain nozzle (or just snip the end of the bag if you are using disposable piping bag).
  • Pipe a swirl of meringue over the top of the cupcake, making sure to completely cover the lime curd. Finish with a nice pointy tip.
  • Using a blowtorch, lightly toast the outside of the meringue until the sugar caramelises.

Cross-section of Coconut & Lime Cupcake

Cost: Cupcakes = £1.45, Curd = £2.28, Meringue = £1.00, £0.40 per completed cupcake (July 2011)

18 Comments on “Coconut and Lime Cupcakes”

  1. Things of beauty! And taste like heaven no doubt. I am a coconut fiend. x

  2. Jo Wheatley says:

    Sound delish obviously I must have been at the far too polite stage to come and nab one on the way out of the tent xxx Great tips as always, i’ll always be grateful for the sugar syrup tips xxxx

  3. MAB says:

    Thank you Ladies – unfortunately, the ones in the tent were a bit… how shall I put this… “below par” 😉 This is how they SHOULD have turned out 😉 M-A x

  4. I think there is something magical about meringue on cupcakes. I like your lime curd twist – an added surprise.

  5. perfection…literal perfection! that last photo is utterly gorgeous, well both of them are! Stunning recipe and post alike 🙂

    • MAB says:

      Welcome back Sasha – (my daughter’s called Sasha too!) – and thank you for the lovely comments!

      I’m really impressed with your blog – you’re such a busy baker!
      Any plans to create your home in gingerbread? – It’s that cute 😀

      M-A x

  6. Chef Jae says:

    What can I say Mary-Anne? Absolutely fantastic and by George do you have a lot of time to post!

  7. Hi!! I found this on Tastespotting – looks sooo yummy. And pretty too!

    I wanted to add that there’s a great documentary on Harry Nilsson that just came out last year, called “Who is Harry Nilsson?” It’s really interesting. It might still be streaming over the internet on Netflix.

    This is the official site –

  8. Jay says:

    Lovely cupcakes. The meringue looks especially inviting. Lime and coconut are always a great flavour combo, and who better for coconut lime inspiration, than Harry Nilsson! My nephew surprised me with my first Harry Nilsson album, A little touch of Schmilsson in the Night, in the 70s for my BD. It was, and still is, one of my all time favourites.

    I wonder if you could clarify one of the ingredients in your recipe? You state use soft margarine for the fat in the batter. Do you mean soft margarine like a tub of normal margarine, ie; Becel, Kraft, etc, that sometimes needs a bit of softening before use, or do you mean a softer margarine as in a “lite” margarine than stay soft even with refrigeration?

    Thank you


    • MAB says:

      Wotchers Jay! Thank you for stopping by and for jogging my memory re: the other Nilsson album I used to own!

      The soft margarine I refer to is tub margarine – the brand in the UK that is most well known (and marketed as being best for cakes) is Stork – and comes in a bright yellow tub.

      Hope this helps!

      M-A x

  9. I love your blog. I’ve already bookmarked a few of your recipes, beautiful stuff, mouth watering!
    *kisses* HH

  10. They look absolutely wonderful! I love the idea of adding lime curd inside the cupcakes. Congratulations on reaching the final of GBBO. I’m hooked on the show!

  11. Lokness says:

    I am not a fan of coconut, but this cupcake looks so good. The meringue definitely makes the cupcake extra special!

  12. Eward says:


    Love love love your site! What is your reason for using margarine in the cupcake mix instead of butter?


    • MAB says:

      Wotchers Emily! Glad you’re enjoying the blog! For these cupcakes, the choice of margarine was for the texture. Butter is a lovely taste, but produces a cake that isn’t as light as one made with margarine. The coconut was going to make for a dense cake anyway, so I tried using margarine to lighten it, and it worked a treat! 😀

  13. Eward says:

    I see what you mean. I had a go at Italian meringue (a first attempt without a thermometer, I added the syrup too early and it just went watery). The second time, I used a thermometer to 115 C and did as you said (but I don’t have a mixer so I had someone whisking by hand) but it was still too runny, even after a lot of whisking.

    Nor deterred, I heated it slowly over a pan of simmering water, and it stiffened right up! Phew!

    Beautiful recipe. Thank you.

  14. Antonia says:

    Just made this! Love the lime curd and the coconut base but somehow screwed up the meringue. (It still tastes as it should but it was far too runny. I’ll try again. And I’ve given Santa a hint – there shall be torches for Christmas.)

  15. Ndavid says:

    Just made them. They’re amazing!!! Best cupcakes ever.

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