Bake-off Part I: Samoa Cupcakes

As a former Girl Scout (Troop 662, you did me so right!), I was ecstatic when my baking buddy Sohini found a recipe that simulated the glory that is a Samoa cookie. I am a firm believer that Girl Scout cookies should be sold year round, wouldn’t the profit margins be larger? (I know quite a few people whose waistlines would be also) Oh well, until the Scouts come to their senses I have this recipe to simulate the trifecta that is chocolate, caramel and coconut.

The recipe is from a fellow food blogger who I must admit is a way better baker than I. I already have a few of her recipes bookmarked and cannot wait to try them all.

Now as evidenced by the rainbow cake entry, when Sohini and I bake we essentially lock ourselves in the kitchen and go on a baking binge of sorts cooking 2, 3, or 4 recipes in a night.

The Samoas Cupcakes was phase one of this bake-off. Phase two was Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies. Chocolate covered Bacon was beyond entertaining as phase three and we finished off the night with Brown Sugar Sprinkled Blueberry Muffins. Obviously more on those later.

After a hefty shopping spree at Safeway we headed home to begin our adventure. We wanted to start the cupcakes first since they were the most time consuming out of the evenings recipe list. Mostly though, I think we just couldn’t wait to taste the finished product.

First up, the actual cupcake. This was the first time I included sour cream into a cake and I was a little skeptical. Let me reassure anyone who shared my concerns, they were the moistest most delicious tasting chocolate cupcakes I have ever eaten in my whole life.

While we assembled and divided the ingredients up, the oven was preheated to 350 degrees and the cupcake trays were lined with a mix of fabulous little silver wrappers and sports themed wrappers – for variety.

I want to apologize in advance for the poorer quality photos. I took a few photos and then my camera died, I was at Sohini’s house and didn’t have my charger with me so we used her iPhone because it had a flash. Please bear with me.

The first thing you want to do is combine 1 cup sour cream and 1 teaspoon baking soda in a small bowl

In another bowl sift and combine 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, like the sour cream set this bowl aside. It day in the sun is coming.

In yet another bowl mix together 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), 1 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar

The butter is glowing, like the holy gift it is.

Next comes 1 teaspoon of salt, mix in until fully combined

In another bowl, or two, you need 2 whole eggs and an additional 2 egg yolks toss those into the sugar/butter/salt mixture. ADD THE WHOLE EGGS FIRST.

Once the eggs are added, put in 1 tablespoon vanilla

I whip my batter back and forth

Now set your mixer down and get ready to use some muscle. Yes, the time has come to fold in the sour cream mixture and the flour mixture. Alternate the 2 mixtures adding 1/3 of both at a time.

Your batter should look a little something like this

Now fill your cupcake trays 2/3 full!

Pop ’em in the oven for 20-25 minutes. In the meantime I believe homemade salted caramel butter cream frosting is calling your name.

Caramel, if you don’t know, was actually pretty easy to make. The only note I will make is that you have to be careful because apparently sugar burns are the worst.

You want to start by putting ½ cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan on the stove and setting the stove to medium heat, stirring until the sugar is all dissolved.

Once this has been achieved, turn up the heat to high, baby! And wait for your sugar to boil.

While it is bubbling, swirl the sweet stuff by shaking the handle to prevent solidification. After 5-7 minutes, it will have turned an amber color. Time to add 2 tablespoons butter

AND 6 tablespoons of heavy cream

All that dairy is going to make the sugar go CRA-ZY, so watch out. Mix mix mix, until the bubbles calm down. Now add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.

If your caramel looks like this, you are right on track. Now for the “butter cream” side of the frosting.

Combine 1 cup of room temp unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Once is it fluffy add in 1 and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar (1/2 cup at a time, please).

Now add in the beauty that is your homemade caramel.

WHOA THERE

Sohini and I put the frosting into a few plastic bags and placed them in the fridge to cool before we put them on the cupcakes. Speaking of which.

Time for a quick check on your cupcakes…

Lookin’ good!

Patience is a virtue I do not posses when it comes to baking so I scraped the leftover batter onto my left index finger, then a quick dip into the frosting with my right and into my mouth all at once.

(Just got off work, like my shirt?)

Take your cupcakes out of the oven and let those babies cool off.

Before you turn off that oven, take 1/2 cup of coconut and thinly spread it over a piece of foil and put it in the oven for 5-7 minutes until the flakes are a toasty golden color.

For the famous chocolate drizzle stripes that adorn every Samoa cookie we melted 1/4 cup of milk chocolate chips until they were completely runny.

Now the time has come to put everything together!

Take your cooled cupcakes

And get your frosting out of the fridge. We didn’t have piping bags so a quick easy substitute is a Ziploc bag with the edge of one of the corners snipped off.

Start frosting! We realized that it didn’t really matter that we weren’t master frosters because it was going to be covered by the coconut and chocolate drizzle. Breath easy fellow bakers.

Sprinkle on the coconut, be generous.

Do the Scouts proud and use a heavy hand with the chocolate drizzle.

Drum roll please…

Wow, let me tell you these cupcakes were rich, creamy, sweet, and salty to boot. The coconut provided just enough crunch. And though I am sure the sour cream packed on a few more unwanted calories, it added enough density to the cupcake to keep you from choking on the dry coconut. Overall, I think they did justice to the flavor profile that is a Samoa cookie. The only component that was missing was the crunch from the wafer cookie base. I am sure that with a bit of tweaking I could incorporate something similar into the batter.

Until next time.

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