Sunday, April 5, 2009

Samoa Cupcakes and the Cupcake Exchange

The set

After seeing Sena's maple cupcakes at Leslie's going away party but not tasting any, I devised a clever plan to be able to try some of her cupcakes: a cupcake exchange! I sent out an e-mail to several other baker friends, and we ended up with 6 different batches of cupcakes. Good thing I invited some friends to help eat, too, because there's only so many cupcakes a girl can eat, even if they're as delicious as the ones that were brought.

Sena brought a sundae cupcake that was originally going to be Neapolitan with chocolate and strawberry layers, but then her fiancee suggested adding whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry on top!

Sundae cupcakes

Will brought a root beer banana cupcake with strawberry frosting. He substituted root beer for the water, and it came out super light and fluffy.

Rootbeer banana cupcakes with strawberry frosting

Judy brought coffee and walnut cupcakes with a brown sugar streusel on top.

Coffee walnut cupcakes

Daphne brought lemon curd cupcakes, which she carved out by hand.

Lemon curd cupcakes

Lastly, Ruth brought meyer lemon meringue cupcakes. Look at the awesome piping!

Meyer lemon meringue cupcakes

I decided to make Samoa cupcakes, inspired by my favorite Girl Scout cookies. I found this recipe by chockylit, which looks amazing, but I was a little too lazy to make the cupcakes and caramel sauce from scratch so I improvised by using yellow butter cake mix and bought caramels. The original recipe called for cutting into the cupcakes once they were baked and cooled and filling each one with caramel sauce. I thought I'd try something a little different; I filled each cupcake liner a little more than halfway with the batter, and then topped each one with a caramel. My hope was that the batter would rise up around the caramel to enclose it and that the caramel itself was melt a bit in the oven while baking.

Samoa cupcake

Samoa Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 box yellow butter cake mix
1 cup water
3 eggs
1/3 cup butter, softened
24 caramels

For the chocolate ganache:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the toasted coconut topping:
4 cups shredded, sweet coconut
2 eggs
10 ounces evaporated milk
11/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Prepare the cupcake batter according to the box mix directions. Fill each cupcake liner a little more than halfway with the batter and top with a caramel. Bake according to the directions on the box. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

Ready for baking

To make chocolate ganache, stir cream and chocolate chips on a double boiler (or use a metal bowl on top of a saucepan of boiling water) until melted. Add vanilla and stir to mix. Let cool to room temperature.

Toasted coconut

To make the toasted coconut topping, start by spreading the coconut onto a sheet pan. Toast in a 350°F oven, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the coconut is an even brown color, about 10 minutes. Crack the eggs into a small saucepan and beat lightly to break up. Add milk, sugar, and butter. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thick, bubbly, and golden, about 15 minutes. Press mixture through a metal sieve and into a bowl to remove any lumps. Add 3 cups of the coconut, reserving the remainder for assembly, stir to combine. Let the mixture cool.

Making the coconut topping

To assemble, smooth on a light coating of chocolate ganache. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to harden the ganache.

Chocolate ganache layer

Once hardened, spoon on the coconut topping and spread evenly. Top with some more plain toasted coconut.

Coconut topping

Drizzle the top with lines of ganache. You may have to warm the ganache over a water bath to get it to drizzling consistency.

Samoa cupcakes

Unfortunately, the caramel sunk to the bottom of the cupcakes and hardened instead of sitting in the middle and softening. I had to warn everyone to bite carefully into the cupcake, especially if they had any fillings or crowns.

The inside

Otherwise, I was pretty satisfied with the way it turned out. One of the guests commented that it smelled just like a Samoa cookie (this was before we started eating), and I thought the coconut topping tasted exactly like the coconut topping on a Samoa. The original recipe was for 12 cupcakes, so I thought I would need to double the recipe for the chocolate ganache and coconut topping, but it turned out making even the single batch for 12 was more than enough for all 24 cupcakes. I'll probably have to make coconut lime cupcakes and Samoa bars soon to use up the leftovers. Good thing Maundy Thursday and Ruth's baby shower are coming up!

Cupcake wrappers


  1. Omg your cupcakes look delicious. I'm going to try this recipe out!!

  2. Those cupcakes look amazing (even better than the cookies!). What a great idea to host a cupcake exchange :D

  3. What a neat sounding cupcake. I love samoas so it's no wonder I like the idea of these. Thanks for sharing the idea and your wonderful pics.

  4. what were your favorite cupcakes?

  5. I'm in love. In love with these cupcakes and in love with your blog!

  6. So even though they were probably the most plain cupcakes, I really liked the root beer banana cupcakes with strawberry frosting. I really liked how light and fluffy they were and also how they weren't overly sweet. =)

  7. I made this recipe but instead of using a caramel square in each cupcake I dabbed in a spoonful of Smucker's caramel sauce, the kind that comes in a jar. It sunk to the bottom of the cupcakes, but you still got the caramel flavor, a little bit of the oozy sticky texture, and no broken crowns!

  8. What a fun post. All of the cupcakes look fabulous!

  9. So is the cupcake recipe for 12 and the topping recipe for 12 or for 24? I really want to make this!!!! Do you recommend another type of filling besides the caramel?

  10. Good question, Michelle. If you follow my recipe above, you'll have enough of everything for 24 cupcakes. (I made what the original recipe said was enough for 12 cupcakes and found that I had more than enough for 24.) Hope that helps!

  11. My friend and I had a bake date this weekend and made this. After trying many ways to get it the caramel in the middle we found that injecting smuckers caramel syrup in the middle works best. These are so good.

  12. changins - Thanks! I assume you mean to inject it with a pastry bag after the cupcake is baked?

  13. I just made these today, and boy was that a long days work. I think it took me about 5 hours to make everything (mostly because I was short on pots, pans, and large bowls, so I had to wait until one thing was done until I could move on to the next). It also was kinda messy lol, I felt like a 5yrold in the kitchen making a mess everywhere :). The coconut topping was the hardest to make, and I'm still not sure if I did it right (my sauce color was a little more yellowish and doesn't look as thick as yours turned out). But the result was well worth the effort. They are absolutely amazing!
    I took advice from one of the commenters about the caramel syrup and it worked perfectly :)
    This one is definitely going in the baking book! Thank you for sharing

  14. I'm not big on pushing name brands, but I tried the werther's caramels (mainly because that was all that was available at the grocery) and they worked a lot better than the traditional cubed brach's or kraft variety. they did sink to the bottom, but they didn't re-harden after cooling. they were not as soft as the other caramels and seemed to be smaller. it was kind of yummy eating the caramel/cake off the paper. also, I added crumbled shortbread cookies in the bottom and on the topping because I was looking for the cookie crunch and it turned out well, too. these cupcakes are absolutely fantastic. they are always a hit when I make them!

  15. This is a time consuming process that would have been worth every minute had I finished reading past the last step to see the writer post about the troublesome caramel problem. I would have gone the extra mile to make a caramel sauce or eliminated it altogether had I known the result would be a hard as a rock caramel sitting on the bottom. And now looking back and seeing that this was originally posted in 2009 I wonder why the blogger hasn't updated this to make mention of this glitch at the beginning. *sigh* They are edible but after that work I'd rather have them be far more than that.

  16. I think if you froze your caramels, it would have worked. They LOOK delicious!