Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan bring coconut milk just to boiling (watch carefully; milk may boil over); reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until milk is reduced to 1-1/3 cups; cool. Line twenty-two 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups. Using the tip of a small sharp knife, scrape out seeds from vanilla bean; set seeds aside. In a small bowl stir together flour, nuts, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add granulated sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape sides of bowl; beat for 1 minute more. Add eggs, one at at time, beating well after each addition. Stir in half of the vanilla seeds (reserve the remaining seeds for Coconut Cream Filling). Alternately add flour mixture and 1 cup of the reduced coconut milk (reserve the remaining reduced coconut milk for Coconut Cream Filling) to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out batter in cups.
Bake for 15 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks.
Using a spoon, scoop out an indentation about 1 inch deep from the center of each cupcake (leaving a 1/4- to 1/2-inch rim around the edge). Spoon 1 tablespoon Coconut Cream Filling into the center of each cupcake.
Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Spread or pipe Meringue Frosting onto tops of cupcakes. Place frosted cupcakes on a large baking sheet. Bake about 5 minutes or until frosting is lightly browned. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Makes 22 (2-1/2 inch) cupcakes.
Coconut Cream Filling
Add enough milk to the reserved reduced coconut milk to make 1-1/3 cups liquid total. Prepare vanilla pudding and pie filling mix according to package directions, except use the 1-1/3 cups milk-coconut milk mixture instead of the milk called for on the package. Stir in flaked coconut. Cool slightly. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Chill until thickened. Makes 1-1/3 cups.
In the top of a 2-quart double boiler combine sugar, cold water, egg whites, and cream of tartar. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Place the double boiler top over boiling water (upper pan shouldn't touch water). Cook, beating constantly with the electric mixer on high speed, for 10 to 13 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160 degrees F, stopping mixer and quickly scraping bottom and sides of pan every 5 minutes to prevent sticking. Remove pan from the heat; add vanilla. Beat about 1 minute more or until frosting is fluffy and almost holds stiff peaks. Makes 4 cups.