For the cupcakes: Preheat the convection oven to 325 degrees F or a standard oven to 350 degrees F.
In large mixer bowl, cream together the granulated sugar and butter until light and fluffy with a heavy duty mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix thoroughly after each addition. Add the coconut extract and mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add half of the flour to the mixer bowl along with 1/2 cup of the half-and-half. Mix until the flour is mixed in, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the rest of flour mixture and the other 1/2 cup half-and-half. Mix until the batter is smooth and all of the flour lumps are gone. Fold in the coconut flakes.
Fill 24 cupcake liners half full and bake for 20 minutes in the convection oven or 28 minutes in the standard oven. The tops of the cupcakes should be lightly browned. Check the cupcakes to make sure no batter sticks to a wooden toothpick when inserted into the cupcake. Cool the cupcakes completely.
For the mousse filling: In large mixer bowl, beat the heavy cream, half-and-half, coconut extract and pudding mix until light and fluffy using a heavy duty mixer. It should have the consistency of whipped cream. Gently fold in the coconut using a plastic spatula. Put the filling in a pastry bag or zipper bag with a corner cut off.
For the coconut buttercream: In large mixer bowl, beat together the butter and half of the powdered sugar using heavy duty mixer. Add the half-and-half and the rest of the powdered sugar, along with the coconut extract, and mix well. If the frosting is thicker than you would like, add 1 teaspoon of additional half-and-half at a time, mixing well after each addition, until the frosting reaches the correct consistency. The thickness may depend on the humidity levels in your region. Put into a pastry bag.
To assemble: Make a hole in the middle of each cupcake using a sharp knife. Be sure and leave a small amount of cake in the bottom of the hole. Fill the cupcakes with the mousse filling. Frost with coconut buttercream. You may top the cupcakes with more flake coconut or toasted coconut as desired.
Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy of Dawn Trammell