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Mother Lovett made a lot of cakes. In fact, if you haven’t read her entire story yet, you wouldn’t know that she had a heart attack while hand-mixing cake batter. It began her demise, but once in the hospital, she was simply concerned with how dirty her kitchen still was.

I obviously didn’t inherit that gene, since I can’t be bother to even wash a dish.

When we lived in our magical castle, we were sans dishwasher. Some days I thought those dishes would never end . . . as I watched them pile up in the sink. I really have no idea why we were so miserable there. I am sure it doesn’t have anything to do with me not cleaning, not washing dishes, not showering, and not removing myself from the couch.

Those last 2 are a stretch, but I still think my husband would agree.

As my mom was growing up, Mother Lovett would bake every Saturday. Pies, cakes, and other goodies – all to provide dessert for the coming week.

This orange cake was one of her specialties, but I have to admit something: she used boxed cake mix, and surprisingly used box cake mix alot. I find nothing wrong with it (I usually enjoy it), but I also find pleasure and comfort in making treats from scratch.

So I used her recipe, along with a yellow cake from scratch, and it came out wonderfully.

I think I mentioned this with her orange cookies, but now I know why she always made me zest the oranges. What a pain! It also describes why she had my late grandfather zest the oranges before me. For lack of a better word, she could sometimes be . . . bossy.




I had a hard time staying away from the freshly-squeezed orange juice.


I have never been a juice drinker, but recently my hubby and I have been having some OJ every morning. It is so nice and refreshing, minus the OCD my husband has while weighing his out in ounces each day.

Once the batter was mixed up, in went the main ingredients: orange juice, zest, and a few handfuls of coconut.





It was a challenge to stay away from the batter. The creamy, coconutty goodness was almost more than I could handle.

I topped the cupcakes off with some orange cream cheese frosting. This was Mother Lovett’s exact recipe, minus the cream cheese. I can’t live without cream cheese. If I even attempt, I start to shake.



Orange Coconut Cupcakes

yellow cake recipe adapted from smitten kitchen

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

3/4 cup freshly squeeze orange juice

zest of 5 oranges

1 cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line cupcake pans with liners.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is incorporated. Add orange juice and zest.

Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Let cool, then frost.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick butter

2-8oz blocks of cream cheese

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

zest of 2 oranges

1 – 1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese together. Add 1/2 of powdered sugar, then add orange juice and zest. Add the remaining powdered sugar. You may need more or less depending on consistency.

Top with coconut.


When working with coconut, I always have to leave a few goodies plain since many people in my life – like my husband and brothers – are not fans of it.


Last night I told my hubby that if he really loved me, he’d love coconut, too. I’m hoping he makes it his New Year’s resolution.

Happy New Year!

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43 Responses to “Orange-Coconut Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.”

  1. #
    Jessie (Vegan-minded) — December 31, 2009 @ 7:51 am

    These look too good! I love the combination of citrus and coconut, it’s so tropical and yummy. Happy New Year! :)


  2. #
    Cindy — December 31, 2009 @ 8:06 am

    I wish I had oranges in my house right now. Yum.


  3. #
    homecookedem — December 31, 2009 @ 8:13 am

    I’ve made a similar cream cheese frosting before, but your’s looks much naughtier and MUCH, much yummier!! :) I didn’t add butter to mine, but I bet that really helps the creaminess and deliciousness!!


  4. #
    A@ Please Don't Eat Me! — December 31, 2009 @ 8:20 am

    they look yummy! minus the coconut, (not a fan, for medical reasons.. lol)
    i just left a comment on your mother lovett post too- loved it!!


  5. #
    EatingRD — December 31, 2009 @ 8:48 am

    those look like little bites of heaven! Yummy! have to have cream cheese :) I don’t mind using boxed cake mix, especially when you can spruce it up and make it your own. Happy New Year!


  6. #
    Heather @ The Joyful Kitchen — December 31, 2009 @ 8:52 am

    what gorgeous cupcakes! i love your stories about mother Lovett…it’s so cool to hear about the people in your life who have helped shape who you are :)


  7. #
    Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg — December 31, 2009 @ 9:13 am

    Happy New Year!!! Hope you have a great night tonight!


  8. #
    Kelly B. — December 31, 2009 @ 9:25 am

    Happy New Year…those cupcakes look amazing! :)


  9. #
    Kristen @ SimplySavor — December 31, 2009 @ 10:51 am

    yum these cupcakes look adorable and delicious!! love the flavor combinations and i think that is a great new years resolution for your hubby :) happy new year!!


  10. #
    Abby — December 31, 2009 @ 10:56 am

    HAHAHA I think I said the exact same thing to my husband about coconut. I guess he doesn’t really love me :(


  11. #
    Estela @ Weekly Bite — December 31, 2009 @ 11:06 am

    Jessica, these look delicious!


  12. #
    Courtney — December 31, 2009 @ 11:38 am

    Those sound SO good!


  13. #
    Amanda — December 31, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

    This is a combination I would have never thought of…but you made it look fabulous!!

    Way to go girl!!



  14. #
    Simply Life — December 31, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

    oh those cupcakes are beautiful!


  15. #
    Julie @savvyeats — December 31, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

    You need to open a cupcake shop or something. For real.


  16. #
    Kailey — December 31, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

    I always forget about how great orange taste in desserts! such a nice kick :) looks great girlie!


  17. #
    Naomi(onefitfoodie) — December 31, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

    LOVE oranges and coconut!! this sounds so refreshing!

    happy new year love!


  18. #
    Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) — December 31, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

    The Orange Cream Cheese Frosting would kinda be like a dairy-full creamsicle sugar bomb going off in my mouth and I think I would LOVE IT :)

    Drunk shoveling? More fun than sober, I’d say :)

    Happy 2010 Jessica, you are the best!!!!!!!


  19. #
    Stef — December 31, 2009 @ 3:41 pm

    beautiful cupcakes! happy new year!


  20. #
    Jenna — December 31, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

    Can I get one of those cupcakes please? haha.

    I keep meaning to email you to tell you that you won my Chobani giveaway. If you could email me your contact info I will have Chobani send the prize your way!


  21. #
    Morgan @ Life After Bagels — December 31, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

    wow that is a LOT of orange zest . . .

    Happy New Year too!


  22. #
    Katie — December 31, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

    I’ve recently become an enormous coconut fan – these look insanely good.

    Also, i just read your story of Mother Lovett, and I think you are SUCH a good writer – I was captivated by your retelling of the things you remember about her. What a remarkable woman!


  23. #
    Missy Maintains — December 31, 2009 @ 5:20 pm

    They look delicious!! Happy New Year girl!!


  24. #
    24 — December 31, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

    Who doesn’t love coconut! The horror. Those cupcakes look goooddd. I never make anything from scratch, but this recipe might lead me to try.

    *Check out my Yummy Boomi Bar Giveaway, who doesn’t love free stuff!*


  25. #
    Allie (Live Laugh Eat) — December 31, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

    Those look AMAZE-ING!!!! You could be a professional cupcake froster…and baker! Happy New Year Lady!!!


  26. #
    Tartelette — December 31, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

    They sound really tasty!

    Wishing you the best for 2010! Happy New Year!


  27. #
    sophia — December 31, 2009 @ 8:33 pm

    Lol, good luck on the husband liking coconut. But I’m sure it’s possible. I used to hate it, but now I adore it!
    That is one fabulous recipe. I love the combo of orange and coconut. And yup, cream cheese makes everything better! I suppose it cuts the sweetness of the frosting, too. Genius!


  28. #
    Yum Yucky — December 31, 2009 @ 10:49 pm

    Wish I had the patience to greedy-bake like you! But, er, it would probably be a big time baking fail anyways. I’m not too good at that.


  29. #
    Michael Taylor — January 1, 2010 @ 5:32 am

    Greetings from Hong Kong!

    Where gluttony meets fitness — why didn’t I think of that? I must say, the orange cupcakes with cream cheese icing sound divine! I can fantasize about them without actually eating them!



  30. #
    Michael Taylor — January 1, 2010 @ 5:35 am

    Greetings from Hong Kong!

    Orange cupcakes with cream cheese frosting sounds like a very interesting combination!



  31. #
    Joanna Sutter (Fitness & Spice) — January 1, 2010 @ 5:38 am

    Open an online bakery that ships. Please. Thank you.


  32. #
    Tom Baker — January 1, 2010 @ 8:16 am

    I’m a first time visitor and I just bought a microplane so grating zest is a lot easier now. This is a recipe I would like to try with lemons. Do you think it would work? Lemon cake and lime frosting. Actually Joanne has a good idea. Just make two or three great baked goods and see who buys them. You never know.


  33. #
    Nicole — January 1, 2010 @ 9:05 am

    I agree with the online bakery..I think you should do it ASAP :)
    And I loved your story of your grandmother, such special memories! Happy New Year!


  34. #
    Courtney — January 1, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

    Hey! I just found your blog and love it. Your about me section is so honest. Love your take on protein. Thanks from another protein loving queen. :]

    Happy New Year!


  35. #
    Madeline - Greens and Jeans — January 1, 2010 @ 12:16 pm

    Your frosting always turns out so perfectly! Happy New Year!


  36. #
    One Healthy Apple — January 1, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

    Those look delicious and perfect! You should see how I frost my cupcakes, it’s um…interesting!


  37. #
    lynn @ the actors diet — January 1, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

    gorgeous beautiful impressive baking! i love coconut too. happy new year!


  38. #
    fillenaturelle — January 1, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

    These look sinfully delicious AND cute. Cute as an edible orange button! :)


  39. #
    Jolene ( — January 6, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

    Those cupcakes look to-die-for!! How do you have so much time to bake and cook girl!!!?? I am jealous!!


  40. #
    Jocelyn — January 7, 2010 @ 7:53 am

    Those look delightful!!!! yum yum…


  41. #
    Josane — May 7, 2011 @ 11:05 pm

    OMG, I just made these cupcakes to bring to my daughter’s home tomorrow for Mother’s Day. I tried to use up all the icing…I had to ditch the half cup that was left or I would have eatten it all later on tonight. My fat cells say that you for sharing.


  42. #
    Pinky — February 8, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

    These looks so delicious. What tip did u use for frosting? How did u achieve that swirl? I can never get that right. I would appreciate if you could share.



  43. #
    Thimbleberry — April 19, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

    Well the cupcakes sounded so yummy I just had to try them, “Just” with a little twist. I live on Maui and coconut is a way of life here. We eat them fresh off the tree and drink of their sweet water. Your husband would never survive here ! Kidding ! I’m sure he’d find great pleasure in fishing or hunting wild pig’s.
    It just so happens that we’re throwing a birthday dinner for a dear friend tonight and these cupcakes are the perfect addition, since our friend is an island girl, born and raised.
    So, you ask, what’s the twist ? Well another dear friend dropped off a load of limes a couple of days ago, so guess what ? Coconut – Lime cupcakes ! And of course we had to make sure they were perfect before the guest’s arrived, and yes, they are delicious !
    Aloha !


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