These are the lovely Samoa Joe Cupcakes, recipe courtesy of Natalie Slater. While Natalie was gracious enough to post this recipe on the Earth Balance website, I HIGHLY recommend buying her cookbook, Bake and Destroy. The recipes kick butt, especially if you are, like me, a junk food vegan. It also has awesome food photography if you, also like me, are into that sort of thing.
Anyway, moving on to the recipe!
I’ve made these twice, once for my boyfriend, and then again for my mom’s birthday (the picture above is of the latter).
TASTE: 5/5. These guys just really hit the mark. They’re a chocolatey, coconut-y delight. Also very sweet, so if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, these might not be for you (but I do). My boyfriend/family loved them (and none of them are even vegan!).
DIFFICULTY: 3/5. As lovely as these puppies are, they are time-consuming. You have to make the caramel sauce (though this can be done up to a week beforehand), the cupcakes themselves, toast the coconut, make the buttercream, melt the chocolate, and then put it all together. It’s definitely worth it, but if you’re trying to think of something to bake last-minute to bring to a vegan potluck, then this recipe is not for you.
TIPS: So when I made these, I opted out of the coconut oil spread, and used a combination of earth balance/shortening for the buttercream. I also replaced the coconut extract in the frosting with vanilla (I didn’t have any on hand and honestly - this recipe’s already pretty dang coconut-y without it). They turned out lovely.
ISSUES: The amount of caramel sauce the recipe calls for was way too much, both times I made them. I simply could not get the cupcakes to absorb that much caramel sauce, and I followed the hole-poking/caramel drizzling directions to a tee! Not that I’m complaining about having extra caramel sauce (hehe), but you could probably halve the recipe if you felt like it.
I also found it hard to make the cupcakes “pretty,” having bad luck piping the chocolate out in even stripes and coating the tops evenly and completely in the toasted coconut. This didn’t really bother me, but if you’re anal retentive about that stuff, it could potentially be frustrating.
Also: The chocolate cupcakes really DO need that caramel sauce. Without it, the basic chocolate cupcake recipe isn’t quite sweet enough, and is a little bland. These cupcakes really were meant to be infused with caramel and topped with sweet coconut frosting.
Overall, giving this recipe a 4/5. Time-consuming, but oh so delicious!