Salted Caramel and Coconut Cupcakes

This cupcake started as an attempt to get one of my friends to like coconut (I know, who can hate coconut?!).  It's a great gateway for that because the coconut flavor is very subtle when combined with the caramel and chocolate in this recipe.  It's also good for people that find chocolate cupcakes to be overwhelming chocolatey or heavy.  The Salted Caramel Frosting and coconut flakes add a lightness and a salty/sweet  combination that tone down the chocolate without overpowering it.  We just using our Anything But Basic Chocolate Cake recipe for a delicious moist base for this dessert.

Even though you could substitute plain yellow cupcakes for for the chocolate ones listed here, you'll get a Samoa-adjacent flavor profile with the chocolate ones.  Yes, Samoa-adjacent...reminiscent of a Samoa cookie.

Yields 24 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 24 chocolate cupcakes
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 sticks salted butter, divided 1+1, 1 softened
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided 2+2
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon table salt, more if you prefer a saltier caramel or less if not
  • 6 oz. shredded coconut, toasted (To toast, spread across a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 F for about 7 minutes, until golden brown)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. Make caramel sauce: combine dark brown sugar, 1 stick of butter, heavy cream, and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a small saucepan.  Cook, stirring, until thickened to desired consistency (about as thick as chocolate syrup).  Stir in salt and set aside.
  2. Make caramel coconut filling: Combine about 4 ounces toasted shredded coconut with enough caramel to coat (about 1/3 cup).  You just want to create a thick mixture to drop into the center of each cupcake.  
  3. Make frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix remaining stick of butter and vegetable shortening until smooth.  Add remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, water, and powdered sugar and mix until well combined and a smooth frosting has formed.  Add remaining caramel sauce and mix until fully incorporated.  If frosting is too thin, add additional powdered sugar.  
  4. Assemble the cupcakes: Core out the center of each cupcake (make sure not to go all the way to the bottom).  You just want a small crater to drop the filling into.  Evenly divide filling among cupcakes.  Discard (read: eat) cored pieces of cupcake. Pipe a swirl of the frosting onto each cupcake and sprinkle with remaining toasted coconut.