Salted Caramel Coconut Cupcakes
No one can resist Girl Scout cookies. I've had many moments, as I sigh in shame, where I've sat down to have one or two, then another, then another, just one more, no one is looking, one more, I've already had seven I may as well have ten, diet starts tomorrow, I cannot stop, girl scout cookies for dinner, get it together woman, uh oh, and that's a wrap. The fat lady has sung. Then I hide the box at the bottom of the trash can and pretend it never happened. Sound familiar? Welcome to my party.
My mom used to bring Girl Scout cookies home when we were kids. We'd rush to the kitchen, frantically grabbing at the boxes, looking for our favorite flavors. Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Do-si-dos, and my personal favorite, Samoas. The boxes wouldn't last long. Two days max. We went crazy over these cookies. There have been occasions where violence broke out.
Let's talk about Samoas. Samoas, known in some circles as Caramel deLites, are complex and tantalizing little cookies. Perfectly crisp yet chewy, dipped in caramel, topped with toasted coconut, and drizzled in dark chocolate. There's a lot going on, but let me tell you, it's all good. All good. Buttery, chocolatey, coconutty; those girls in the brown and green uniforms know what they're doing.
I had a severe craving for Samoas today, and being someone who doesn't deny cravings, I had to take action. The problem with Girl Scout cookies is you can't just go to the store and buy them, which I understand is what makes them a treat. But I want what I want when I want it, so I had to get crafty.
Allow me to introduce you to my creation, the Samoa inspired cupcake. A dark chocolate cupcake filled with homemade caramel sauce, topped with cream cheese frosting, and sprinkled with toasted coconut and dark chocolate shavings. Yeah, that's right. I went for it big time.
This cupcake satisfies and then some. It's rich and chocolatey but also light and creamy. The cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut is a celebration of texture and tangy sweetness. The caramel filling is a surprise party in your mouth. If I'm getting carried away it's because I just ate one and I'm having a moment. Like the Samoa cookie, there's a lot going on...and it's all good.
The recipe includes my favorite chocolate cupcake, the ultimate cream cheese frosting, and caramel sauce made from scratch, but store bought will do nicely. It's truly inspired...inspired by my undeniable Samoa cookie craving. So have a moment of your own, you deserve it.
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark (for high altitude increase by 1/4 cup)
1 tsp baking powder (for high altitude decrease by 1/4 to 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp baking soda (for high altitude decrease by 1/4 to 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar (for high altitude decrease by 1 to 2 tablespoons)
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs at room temperature (for high altitude add 1 egg)
1 1/3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons brewed coffee (for high altitude increase 2-3 tablespoons)
Preheat your oven to 350°F (for high altitude 375°F). Line cupcake tins with paper liners
In a medium bowl sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter, on medium high speed, till light and fluffy. About 3-5 minutes.
On low speed, add vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Mix till combined, scraping the bowl as needed.
On low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients, followed by 1/2 of the milk. Repeat. Mix until smooth but do not over beat.
Fill liners 2/3 full. I use an ice cream scoop so all cupcakes are evenly sized.
Bake 20-25 minutes, till a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
* Baker's Note: For precise altitude adjustments see here.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes enough for 24 cupcakes
8 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
12 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 cups sifted powdered sugar
In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese till combined.
Add the vanilla.
On low speed, add the powdered sugar.
Beat on high speed for 3 minutes till light and fluffy.
Homemade Caramel Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon water
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla (or scrapings from a vanilla bean)
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/4 tsp kosher salt
On medium high heat, stir the sugar and water in a large sauce pan. Stir constantly till melted. The sugar liquifies, be patient.
Once all the sugar has dissolved, add the butter and vanilla. Continue stirring, being careful not to let the mixture burn.
Once the butter has melted, stir to combine completely and then remove from heat.
Add the salt, mix till combined.
With a whisk, slowly add the cream. Continue whisking till the mixture turns a golden brown.
Set aside and cool for 5 minutes. The sauce will begin to thicken. Refrigerate for 20 minutes till fully thickened and ready to use.
Assembling the cupcakes
1 cup of sweetened coconut
1 cup of dark chocolate chips or shavings from a dark chocolate bar
an apple core tool or pairing knife
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Spread the coconut in a fine layer. Toast for about 5 to 8 minutes. Check to make sure it doesn't burn. You can toss it around half way through so it toasts evenly. You want a light brown color.
Set aside to cool completely.
Use an apple core or pairing knife to remove the center of the cupcakes. Make sure the cupcakes are completely cooled before taking this step. Toss the unused centers away or eat them!
Using a small spoon or pastry bag, fill the inside of cupcakes with caramel, allowing them to overfill slightly.
Frost with cream cheese frosting.
Sprinkle with a generous amount of coconut and chocolate shavings.