Last year, I went to B's for NYE. He cooked a delicious dinner, and I brought personal cheesecakes for dessert. Last year, I didn't ask B what I should bring, but instead remembered that he said that cheesecake had been his favorite dessert, and made those. But this year, I was unsure what to make, and so I asked him what he would want for NYE. He said "something caramel or butterscotch." Since I don't like butterscotch, I figured I'd go with a caramel dessert. But not having an idea of caramel desserts, I posted the question to JulieBakes fans on Facebook (have you "liked" JulieBakes on Facebook? If not, I suggest you check it out, and if you like what you see, "like" it. But I digress.). I got some great suggestions, but between the not feeling well on Sunday and working on Monday, I had limited time to make dessert.
I did some searching, and came up with a caramel coconut cupcake, with caramel, and coconut buttercream, topped with toasted coconut. I was so excited! B LOVES the Samoa cupcakes I make, and I had been telling him over the weekend that I wanted to make a coconut-vanilla cupcake, so I figured coconut and caramel cupcakes would make a pretty awesome dessert for him. (He also loved the toasted coconut marshmallows I brought him on Friday night!)
The only problem? The coconut caramel cupcake recipe I found called for 2 boxes of boxed cake mix (they were half coconut and half caramel cupcakes). Cake mix!?! That just wouldn't work! So I went and decided that I'd alter a different recipe I found online, and make one coconut-caramel cupcake.
First, I decided to take a caramel cupcake recipe from here. I added some shredded coconut to the batter. Then, I decided that I'd dip them in some caramel, which this recipe (the original recipe I found) recommended. But then I had to decide what kind of icing to make. The first one used a caramel icing. The second used a coconut icing. Decisions, decisions! I had my heart set on making a coconut-caramel icing, in which I would take the caramel icing from the Samoa cupcakes and added some coconut extract. But then I remembered how sweet the caramel icing was, and opted not to dip them in the caramel. And then I tasted the cupcakes, and although they were quite delicious, they didn't taste particularly caramel-y, so I opted to make the plain caramel icing that I used on the Samoa cupcakes. And then I topped them with some toasted shredded coconut, because, well, why not. And I drizzled a little bit of caramel on top of them, too, for good measure ;-). Oh, and then I adorned a few of them with cut pieces of homemade caramels from the blog earlier in the week.
Caramel Coconut Cupcakes
Adapted from this recipe for caramel cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 Tablespoons (that's 1 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar (I used dark)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of pure almond extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup loose (not packed) shredded sweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line at least 15 muffin tins with papers (I got 16.5 cupcakes).
[Depending on how good you are at dividing batter evenly, this will make about 15 cupcakes. Be sure to fill the empty muffin wells with water before baking.]
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, and using the paddle attachment (hand held is fine too), cream the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes.)
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated.
Add the almond extract.
Mix and scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each.
Add the shredded coconut and mix until incorporated.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway full. Mine were filled more like 3/4+ and that gave me cupcakes the perfect height.
Bake for about 20- 25 minutes (the tops should spring back from a gentle touch. Mine didn't. Maybe it was the added coconut. I went with the whole "when a toothpick comes out clean, they're done" school of thought)
When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
from these awesome Samoa Cupcakes I made earlier....twice.
** I was going for a very caramel-y frosting, since B requested something with caramel for our NYE dessert. If you wanted to match the coconut-caramel flavor of the cupcake, I'm sure you could add a little coconut extract to the icing. I'd start by decreasing the vanilla to 1.5 tsp and adding 1/2 tsp of coconut extract, and then add either more vanilla and/or coconut extract to taste.**
2 sticks butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup caramel topping, plus more for drizzling (I ended up thinking that it didn't taste "caramel-y" enough, so I used extra caramel)
1 pound powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
Cream butter until fluffy.
Add in vanilla extract and caramel topping.
Add powdered sugar and salt and mix until smooth. If icing is still too thin add a bit more powdered sugar (the consistency differs based on the type of caramel topping you use).
Wait until cupcakes are completely cool, and use a pastry bag to ice the cupcakes.
Toppings and Assembly
Toasted Coconut (toast coconut on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, watch it closely as it burns very quickly. I toasted mine for about 5 minutes in a 325F oven, since that's what it was on from the cupcakes).
Extra caramel topping.
Put buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with the tip of your choice.
Pipe buttercream onto cooled cupcakes.
Sprinkle the toasted coconut on top of the cupcakes.
Then, drizzle with caramel topping (I put mine in a mini squeeze bottle).
I topped some of the cupcakes with the homemade caramels I made the other day.