Samoa Cupcakes

For Cupcakes
2 cups flour
¾ cup natural cocoa powder
1½ sticks butter, softened to room temperature
1¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon coconut extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1½ cups milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, cream together butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, vanilla, and coconut extract until fluffy and light, at least 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with milk, until just combined.

3. Fill cupcake liners half full, making sure that batter is divided evenly. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean—approximately 20 to 22 minutes. Tilt each cupcake in the pan so it sits at an angle. Allow the cupcakes to cool at this angle for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For Caramel Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup shortening
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
⅓ cup caramel topping,
plus more for drizzling
3 tablespoons milk
1½ pounds of confectioners’ sugar
1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened
¼ cup milk chocolate chips, or small milk chocolate bar

1. Cream butter, shortening, and brown sugar together in a bowl with an electric mixer. Add vanilla, salt, caramel, and milk until combined. Begin adding the sugar slowly, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Beat until smooth, about 4 minutes.

2. To toast the coconut, spread the coconut onto a rimmed sheet pan. Toast at 350°, stirring frequently, until the coconut is an even brown color—about 10 minutes.

3. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag filled with a decorative tip. Pipe a spiral of frosting, beginning with the edge and working inward.

4. Heat chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave until melted—about 30 seconds. Drizzle the frosted cupcakes with melted chocolate and extra caramel and garnish with toasted coconut.

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Nikki Bowman
Written by Nikki Bowman
Nikki Bowman, a West Virginia native, is the founder and owner of New South Media, Inc., which publishes the critically acclaimed WV Living, WV Weddings, West Virginia Focus, Explore, and Morgantown magazines. In January 2015, her company also took over the editorial and design of Wonderful West Virginia magazine. She graduated from West Virginia University and received her master’s degree in Writing from DePaul University in Chicago.