Samoas Cupcakes

So all I really need to say about these cupcakes is:

Serious Wow Factor.

I mean look at them. They are a Samoa-lovers (or Caramel deLites-lovers, depending on where you live) dream come true.

Buttery shortbread crust. Chocolate cupcake. Chocolate caramel ganache topping (say no more). Caramel and coconut Samoa topping. Extra chocolate ganache drizzle.

That’s probably all you need to know. Consider these babies next time you need serious rock star status.

Samoas Cupcakes

One Year AgoEaster Dinner Make-a-Menu
Two Years Ago: No-Bake Nutella Cheesecakes
Three Years Ago: Indian Butter Chicken

Samoa Cupcakes

Yield: Makes 21-24 cupcakes

If using storebought shortbread cookies, you'll most likely need to trim them down with a serrated knife or a small round cutter to fit in the bottom of the cupcake liners. Keep in mind that the coconut used in the topping is lightly toasted so plan ahead and lightly toast it in the oven or on the stovetop in a skillet to use in the recipe.


    For the cupcakes:
  • About 21-24 round shortbread cookies (see note)
  • 6 tablespoons natural unsweetened or Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • For the ganache:
  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce, storebought or homemade
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • For the caramel/coconut topping:
  • 15 ounce package soft caramels, unwrapped
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners. Place a shortbread cookie in the bottom of each liner (see note about trimming if needed). Set aside.
  2. For the cupcake batter, in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the cocoa powder and hot water and whisk until smooth. In another medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to blend.
  3. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat or in a microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and sugar. Cook or microwave, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and the butter is completely melted.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer or use a handheld electric mixer and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture until smooth.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour and mix to combine. Add 1/2 of the sour cream; mix. Add another 1/3 of the flour and mix again followed by the rest of the sour cream. End with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  6. Fill the muffin cups 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.Transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  7. To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Combine the caramel sauce and cream in a liquid measuring cup and microwave in 30 second intervals bringing to a simmer. Pour the warm caramel/cream mixture over the chocolate in the bowl and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Whisk the mixture together until the chocolate is fully melted and a shiny, smooth ganache has formed. Stir in the coconut extract. Let the ganache rest until thick and spreadable (without dripping excessively). Spread a layer of ganache on top of each cupcake. There should be a bit of ganache leftover to drizzle on the cupcakes at the very end.
  8. To make the topping, place the caramels and milk in a large heatproof bowl. Microwave in 1-minute intervals, stirring often, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Take care as caramels can burn really easily of overheated in the microwave (says one who has learned from experience). Stir in the salt and the coconut extract. Fold in the toasted coconut.
  9. Scoop a small mound of the coconut-caramel mixture (about 1½ tablespoons each) and using lightly wet hands, if needed for the stickiness, press the mixture into a round shape and gently indent the center or push a hole all the way through - just like the Girl Scout Samoa cookies.
  10. When all the cupcakes have been topped, warm the extra ganache slightly (10-15 seconds in the microwave) until it can be drizzled across the tops of the cupcakes. Drizzle lightly with a fork over the cupcakes.
  11. Cupcakes are best served at room temperature (they can be refrigerated for up to a day; let them come to room temperature before serving).

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Annie’s Eats (used salted butter, adapted a few ingredient amounts, etc.)

22 Responses to Samoa Cupcakes

  1. anonymous says:

    Many members of my family were born in Western Samoa, including a brother who just died. After the funeral we got together for a dessert bar. I made these because he loves Samoa’s so much and it was a way to honor him. SADLY, they were not a hit. The caramel/coconut topping was…hard on the dental work to say the least. I used Kraft caramels. And I’m a very experienced baker. Made my own shortbread cookies for the base. They were fab. So were the cupcakes themselves but the topping…not so much.

  2. Lexy says:

    How many minutes do the cupcakes go in?? I’m going to make these this week! They sound amazing!!

  3. Cammee says:

    These look so dang good I even want to eat the chocolate part!

  4. Diane says:

    I made these from Annie’s website and they were SO delicious! My shortbread cookies didn’t really add anything to mine, though. Were yours soft or crunchy? When I eat a shortbread cookie I expect a crunch. Anyway, it didn’t really add any extra flavor or texture for me so I wondered if anyone else had that problem. I made my own and they were crispy when I put them in the cupcake liners. I just found your site recently and can tell I will love your recipes! I made your lemon cupcakes the other day and loved them!

    • Mel says:

      Diane – that’s definitely an interesting observation! I have to confess that I used storebought cookies when I made these. They were fairly thick and while they didn’t stay crispy, they definitely gave an interesting texture from cupcake to cookie, does that make sense? I think if I made them again, I’d still use the cookie, although I can see how making a cookie from scratch might be a bit tedious especially if the result isn’t that noticeable.

  5. Jennifer Hubbs says:

    Okay, Mel…I have to make these for my book club girls next week! Problem is, I will have very little time to make these the day of- we’re talking maybe an hour if I can get all my daycare kids to nap at the same time and then a few minutes right before everyone arrives for assembly!! I’m sure I could toast the coconut the night before, but would the texture of the ganache be okay if I made it the night before too? I’m assuming I’d need to refrigerate and then reheat it a bit before putting it on the cupcakes? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!! (You know, because I’m 35 weeks pregnant and you posted this darn recipe and now I’m literally dreaming about them- so it’s your fault! Lol!)

    • Mel says:

      Jennifer – do you have time to make the cupcakes start to finish the day before? If so, I would totally do that. Make them, cover them very well (in a cupcake or cake carrier), refrigerate, and then pull out about 1-2 hours before you want to serve them for your book club. You are ambitious, lady! Pregnant and running a daycare? I wish I could make them for you!!

  6. Jes says:

    oh my goodness! Thanks for coming up with this! I’m in the middle of trying to perfect a samoa style French macaron…. I may just give up and make a bunch of these to eat instead, haha.

  7. Mary says:

    Sounds like another excuse to buy more Girl Scout cookies 🙂

  8. Ohhh, you made them so pretty, even prettier than Annie’s! Did you use store-bought cookies or make your own? I just can’t imagine you not making your own, Mrs. From Scratch, so I had to ask. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Veronica – well, I hope you still love me because I used storebought shortbread cookies and cut them down to size. 🙂 Although they would be wonderful with homemade!

  9. This cupcake would be in the running for THE most delectable decadent cupcake contest. Oh my goodness I just had a flash—-wouldn’t it be awesome to be a judge
    at that contest. I wonder what we could use to rinse out our mouth/clear our palates between tastings? Laughing—

  10. Rachel says:

    Oh dear, I think I’m in trouble with this one. They look amazing! (Also, I made your cream cheese banana bread this week–really yummy! Thanks for sharing!)

  11. Valerie A. H. says:

    Looks like a delicious master piece! Thanks!

  12. I need these in my life. NEED.

  13. Jen T says:! wow. Definitely rock star status. Thanks Mel!

  14. Dee says:

    Oh My Gosh … There is a bakery near me that makes Samoa cupcakes and they are my all time favorite! I MUST try these.

  15. Heather bell says:

    I’m not a huge fan if multi step desserts but this one is calling my name!!

  16. Kim in MD says:

    This cupcake looks AMAZING, Mel!

  17. Lavender says:

    These are looking absolutely wonderful!

  18. Sheila says:

    Looks and sounds delightfully sinful! Yum . . .

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