Fall semester began last week, which meant that my first official day back to work after summer break happened to be on our birthday. Even though Jen and I had already baked our own birthday cake, I decided to make some birthday cupcakes for myself to share with my colleagues as well. The difficult part was deciding what kind to make!
Looking at one of my Pinterest boards, I finally decided to make these Samoa Cupcakes. Why? Well, I love Girl Scout cookies and Samoas are my favorite (which is strange because I’ve always claimed that I don’t like coconut although that is changing as I get older). I made Homemade Samoas a couple years ago and it was time to cross these Samoa Cupcakes off my must-make cupcake list.
These cupcakes definitely exceeded my expectations! Even though they had a few layers, they really weren’t that difficult to make. They consist of a shortbread cookie base, chocolate cupcake, caramel coconut ganache, and a coconut/caramel topping. To save time, I used store bought shortbread cookies, although I did make homemade vanilla bean caramel sauce. I love the vanilla bean flecks throughout the caramel – yum!
The topping, which resembles a Samoa cookie was my favorite part!
I received several compliments on these cupcakes. One colleague even said “I’d pay lots of $$$ for these cupcakes. You’re a talented chef!” So nice hearing things like that! My colleagues always ask how I have time, with two small kids, to bake so often. I tell them that it is what I love to do and acts as my stress reliever. I also just love the satisfaction of making something from scratch. Getting to eat all the homemade goodies I bake isn’t too bad either!
For the cupcakes:
Shortbread cookies (I used Keebler Sandies Simply Shortbread cookies – they were the perfect size)
6 T Dutch-process cocoa powder
6 T hot water
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
12 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 T sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream
For the caramel coconut ganache:
8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup caramel sauce
½ cup heavy cream
½ tsp coconut extract
For the topping:
15 oz soft caramels (store bought)
3 T milk
Pinch of coarse salt
½ tsp coconut extract
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pans (or get your favorite little helper to do this step!). Place a shortbread cookie in the bottom of each liner.
2. To make the cake, in a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water and whisk until smooth. In another medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to blend.
3. Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and the butter is completely melted. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing each addition just until incorporated.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let cool in the pan about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. While the oven is still warm, toast the coconut for the topping. Turn the oven down to 325°F. Spread coconut flakes on a baking sheet in a thin layer and place in oven for 10-15 minutes. Stir the coconut every few minutes to help ensure even color. The flakes will toast very quickly, so keep an eye on them.
6. To make the caramel coconut ganache, place the chocolate chips in a medium heatproof bowl. Combine the caramel and cream in a liquid measuring cup. Microwave in 30 second intervals and bring to a brisk simmer. Pour the warm liquid over the chocolate in the bowl and let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk together until the chocolate is fully melted and a smooth ganache has formed. Stir in the coconut extract. Spread a layer of the ganache on top of each cupcake.
7. To make the topping, place the caramels and milk in a large heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Stir in the salt and the remaining coconut extract. Fold in the toasted coconut.
8. To assemble cupcakes, scoop a small mound of the coconut-caramel mixture, flatten it, and place on top of each cupcake. Indent the center of each mound to more closely resemble a Samoa cookie. Drizzle cupcakes with additional ganache.
Source: Annie’s Eats (obviously our favorite blog…check it out!)