Samoa Cupcakes with Easy Dulce de Leche Buttercream
Inspired by the Girl Scout Cookie, Samoa Cupcakes with Easy Dulce de Leche Buttercream are topped with toasted coconut, and chocolate stripes! This recipe can easily be made gluten free.
After I made the Samoa Bundt Cake, I started thinking about other versions of the cake that would incorporate the delicious dulce de leche buttercream and toasted coconut combination. Since then, I’ve been wanting to make Samoa Cupcakes and finally decided it was time.
Bake the cupcakes
The last time I made the Samoa Bundt Cake, I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe and swapped the all purpose flour for Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour. This cake is the BEST homemade chocolate cake, likely the best chocolate cake period, that I’ve ever had.
You can use any cupcakes you like for this recipe. I prefer chocolate and on this particular day I used a gluten free chocolate cake mix. I do not recommend the brand. From now on, I’m sticking to my favorite homemade chocolate cake recipe.
I chose purple cupcake liners to match the purple box of Samoa Girl Scout Cookies. I almost exclusively use aluminum foil wrappers because they don’t allow grease to leak through the wrapper.
Make the Easy Dulce de Leche Buttercream
The most recent time I made the Samoa Bundt Cake, I simplified the dulce de leche buttercream by pulling elements from the Easy Vanilla Buttercream recipe. The resulting buttercream was so good that I thought it warranted being used for these cupcakes as well. I’m calling it Easy Dulce de Leche Buttercream, because it eliminates some of the steps present in other versions of dulce de leche buttercream.
The first thing you’ll need to do is make the dulce de leche. I have a step by step post here to make Easy Homemade Dulce de Leche. I have seen prepared Dulce de Leche in stores, so if you prefer to purchase it, you can certainly do that.
After the dulce de leche is cooled, you can make the buttercream. You don’t want the warm dulce de leche to melt your buttercream. This buttercream is super simple – just mix the softened butter with the powdered sugar and then add in the cooled dulce de leche.
Toast the coconut
You can do this in the oven, but I prefer to toast coconut on the stove top so I can have control over how brown it gets and make sure it’s being mixed so it browns evenly.
To do this, I spread the coconut in a large skillet and turn it to medium-high heat.
I like to use one of my favorite silicone spatulas to push the coconut around since it’s soft and won’t scratch the nonstick surface of the pan. It’s also heat resistant up to high temperatures, so it won’t melt when being used with high heat.
You’ll want to be stirring constantly because the coconut browns at an uneven rate – some pieces get brown quickly while others do not. The constant stirring will help it brown more evenly.
Once it starts to brown, it happens quickly. Keep stirring.
There’s a fine line between perfectly toasted and burnt, so make sure you make the call before any of the pieces start to turn black. When the coconut is nice and brown, transfer it to a plate and spread it out to cool.
Assemble the Samoa Cupcakes with Easy Dulce de Leche Buttercream
Make sure your cupcakes have cooled completely before adding the buttercream.
With a small icing spatula or spreader, spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cupcake. Make sure you get the entire exposed cake surface because this buttercream is the glue that will adhere the toasted coconut to the cupcake. This buttercream is SO good – feel free to pile it on.
With one hand, hold a frosted cupcake over the plate of cooled, toasted coconut. Pick up a handful of coconut with your other hand and press the toasted coconut into the frosting, shaking the cupcake gently to remove excess coconut that is not sticking.
Repeat with all the cupcakes.
Melt your chocolate and transfer it to a disposable pastry bag or resealable plastic bag with a corner snipped off. Squeeze the melted chocolate over each cupcake using a back-and-forth motion to create the striped pattern characteristic of Samoa Cookies.
You may be wondering if I’m done making Samoa inspired desserts . . .
Not a chance!
Gluten Free Option for Samoa Cupcakes with Easy Dulce de Leche Buttercream
I used a gluten free cake mix I had on had for these cupcakes, but it ended up dry and crumbly. I highly recommend the Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe made with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour.
Want more Samoas?
Check out these recipes with coconut:
Chocolate Cracker Candy
Key Lime Pie Bars
Coconut Butterscotch Chip Brownies
Pumpkin Spice Magic Bar Minis
Tres Leches Coconut Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream
Seven Layer Magic Cookie Bars
Santa’s Whiskers Cookies
Mexican Chocolate Black Bottom Cupcakes
Toasted Coconut and Chocolate Covered Marshmallows
Baby Bluebird Cupcakes
Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Nut Free Marzipan Carrots
Coconut: Not just for dessert
- 12 of your favorite cupcakes
Easy Dulce de Leche Buttercream:
- 15 tablespoons salted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup purchased or homemade dulce de leche (see note)
- 5 ounces powdered sugar (may require more, see note)
- 2 cups sweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (such as Ghirardelli)
Toast the Coconut:
- Add the coconut to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. The coconut needs to be moved around at all times to avoid uneven cooking and browning. When most of the coconut is nicely brown, transfer to a plate and spread it out to cool. Set aside.
Make the Easy Dulce de Leche Buttercream:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the softened butter. Beat for several minutes until smooth. Scraped down the bowl.
- Add dulce de leche and continue to beat for a few minutes. Then scrape down the bowl again.
- Add the powdered sugar and mix slowly for 30 seconds to incorporate it into the mixture. Then beat on medium for 4 minutes until smooth.
Assemble the Cupcakes:
- Spread buttercream on each cupcake. No need to pipe- just use a small frosting spatula. Make sure to coat all exposed cake with frosting.
- Press toasted coconut onto the top of each cupcake to completely cover the buttercream.
- In a small bowl, microwave the chocolate at 50% power for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval. Heat only until chocolate is just melted. Transfer chocolate to a sandwich bag. Cut off one corner of the bag and drizzle chocolate stripes over each cupcake.