Samoas Cupcakes (Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting)

If you work in an office, you knows it’s Girl Scout cookie season because at least five of your coworkers are slanging them on behalf of their daughters.  At my workplace, people were putting post-its donning “so-and-so’s daddy is also selling these” on competitor’s order forms.  It was a cookie warzone!

Cupcake Batter – Ingredients

Being a former Girl Scout myself, I felt the need to pay homage to my roots and decided to stay in last Saturday night (shocker) to bake. I thought about doing a homemade version of Samoa cookies, but opted for a deconstructed Samoa Cupcake since cookie-mania would ensue in a matter of weeks. I found a great recipe on Bakers Royale, but doing these treats meant I would have to (once more) face my arch-nemesis – frosting. However, I’m proud to say that I managed to make it successfully AND without having to disassemble my kitchen sink again.

My First Successful Frosting – Salted Caramel Buttercream

I usually scrape off most of the frosting on cupcakes, as it oftentimes overpowers the flavor and texture of the cake, but this frosting was really light and fluffy. The flavor beheld the perfect balance of salty and sweet! Pew pew – take THAT, frosting!

Usually, the chocolate cupcake recipes I’ve used in the past call for vegetable oil, but this one utilized sour cream and butter for moisture.  My favorite bakery sells a vanilla cupcake using sour cream in the batter and it seriously is the moistest thing ever, so I falsely assumed using sour cream in mine would produce the same level of amazement. Target and my local grocery store also didn’t have Dutch-processed cocoa powder, so I used some unsweetened cocoa powder that I already had and added a little extra baking soda to neutralize the missing alkali.  The cake ended up a bit dry, so it could have been due to a chemical imbalance as a result of my laziness or sour cream failing me. Oh well, too bad.

Cupcake Assembly Station

After frosting each cupcake, I smushed some toasted coconut on top and then drizzled the tops with melted chocolate.  I pretty much made a huge mess of my kitchen with all of the different ingredients and steps but after about 5 hours of labor, I was happy with the end result.

Samoas Cupcake

I brought these to Shirley’s Super Bowl party as well as for Sho-Yu to try at our game. What was left went to work with me.  Everyone seemed to like them, especially Sho-Yu.

Here’s the recipe from Baker’s Royale:

Makes approximately 20-24 cupcakes


Chocolate Cupcake:

  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 C Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 C unsalted butter
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C light brown sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 T vanilla

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 T water
  • 2 T butter
  • 6 T heavy whipping
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 11/2 C powdered sugar

Toasted Coconuts:

  • 1/2 C sweetened coconut

Chocolate Drizzle:

  • 1/4 C milk chocolate


Chocolate Cupcake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill cupcake tin with liners.
  2. In a bowl, mix sour cream and baking soda together; set aside. Sift flour and cocoa powder; set aside. Using a mixer beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add in salt and beat until combined. Add in eggs and beat until combined. Add in egg yolks and vanilla and beat until combined.
  3. Turn off mixer and, using a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon, add in sour cream mixture and flour mixture, alternating in thirds. Fold in each rotation, beginning with the sour cream and ending with the flour mixture, mixing each rotation until just combined. Fill cupcake liner two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

  1. To make the caramel portion: Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Use a wet brush to remove any crystals that form on the side. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. Now and then, using the handle give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute. As the mixture darkens to a medium amber color, approximately 5-7 minutes addthe 2 tablespoons of  butter and cream to saucepan. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Add salt and stir to combine. Set aside to cool completely before adding it to the next step.
  2. Finishing the caramel buttercream frosting: Place butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat on high until butter is pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Turn mixer speed down to medium and add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Beat until combined.
  3. Add in  caramel sauce and beat until combined.

Toasted Coconuts:

  1. Spread coconut on top of foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes or until shreds start to turn light brown.

Chocolate Drizzle:

  1. Heat milk chocolate in microwave for about 30 seconds or until drizzling consistency.

To assemble:

  1. Pipe salted buttercream frosting to preference. Sprinkle coconut on top of frosting and finish with chocolate drizzling.

Banana Cupcakes with The Frosting That Never Was.

I’ve spent every Memorial Day Weekend since childhood for the last 16 years playing in a basketball tournament, eating some loathsome amount of food I shall not delve into, and hanging out with my favorite people.  This past Memorial Day Weekend was special however, because we were celebrating Jamie’s grad school graduation.  Before I go any further, I have to provide the inspiration for the subject matter of this post.  Jamie’s boyfriend, Shou, sent out an email letting us know about a graduation BBQ we were going to have for Jamie in LA since they were both down from NorCal for the tournament weekend.  Naturally, I volunteered to bring dessert, and after failing to get an answer from Jamie as to what her favorite type of sweets were, I deferred to Shou as follows:

me: hi!
  what kind of dessert does jamie like?
  i get a half day tomorrow, so i was thinking of trying to bake her something
Shou: uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
me: she said you like cheesecake but i don’t care what you like
Shou: LOL
  she likes desserts period
me: haha
  like cake? cookies? bars? cupcakes?
  surely, she has something she likes more than others
Shou: cupcakes
me: does she like fruity things? chocolatey? citrusy?
  there are a million kinds of cupcakes
Shou: fruity is good
  wow what am i reading
me: ok fruity
Shou: lol
Shou: mmm
  ice cream
me: lol
or this one is fruity too – not tart though..
  what do you think?
Shou: woooooooooooo banana
me: would she like that?
  it’s HER grad dinner
  not yours!
Shou: she would like that
Mashed Bananas... or Weird Oatmeal?
After accumulating all the random supplies needed from the market and Target (candy thermometer, anyone?),  Shou sent the following text: “Omg. Jamie likes to MAKE cupcakes, not eat them.”  I couldn’t bring myself to take the perishables back to the market the next day, because “I promise I didn’t poison these bananas or leave this buttermilk in my hot car all day” just didn’t seem viable.  So, I decided to make pumpkin bars with a gingerbread crust in addition to the banana cupcakes.
My banana cupcakes were off to a good start with everything going smoothly in the batter-making process, but things took a turn for the worse when it came time to start the Caramel Buttercream frosting.  I guess the need for a candy thermometer should have raised a red flag, but I refused to buy one because I would probably never use it again.   Instead, I purchased a digital meat thermometer with a probe and clip it at such an angle where the tip of the probe wasn’t touching the bottom of the pan to give the most accurate temperature read.  Behold my clever device:
Candy Thermometer Alternative

I made the caramel successfully with said contraption, but in the process, I managed to knock a pan’s worth of hot melted sugar into my kitchen sink which quickly cooled and solidified.  After pouring gallons of boiling water down the sink to try to dissolve what had probably become a giant rock of sugar, I found my inner plumber (sans buttcrack) and disassembled the sink, cleared the clogged pipe, and put the pipes back together.  Of course, it continued to leak water, so I ended up taking it apart and putting it back together four more times.  By the time I had gotten everything back to normal, all of the frosting ingredients had cooled or warmed to the wrong temperature.  I tried to combine them all in vain and instead of a fluffy frosting, I was left with sugary soup.

Accepting frosting defeat, I bought dark chocolate frosting at the store to accompany my banana cupcakes.  Until next time, Caramel Buttercream.

Banana Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting

Click on the thumbnails below for more pictures!