Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Ganache and Toasted Coconut


I discovered my true nemesis during the development of the recipe…..

Making caramel is the devil.

This recipe is a combination of several different recipes I’ve encountered throughout the years, however, the original inspiration for the recipe came from a Food and Wine Recipe.

I had never really made caramel before and I think I tried 3 different recipes, including the Food and Wine recipe, before I found one that didn’t result in a burnt caramel mess.

(Note:  Only one saucepan died during the development of this recipe….)

I watched YouTube videos of Gordon Ramsey adding butter.  Other recipes called for cream.  Some had brown sugar, some had white.   Some of the other ingredients I saw were mind-boggling.  How was one to know which recipe would reign supreme??

Well, it turns out the answer was trial and error.  At the end of the day, I finally did find one caramel recipe that turned out just the way it was supposed to, although it REALLY  helps if you have a candy thermometer.

I used my favorite America’s Test Kitchen chocolate cupcake recipe for the base of this cupcake – utilized in Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting.

To make the ganache filling, combine the chopped chocolate, powdered sugar, and heavy cream in a small microwavable bowl and microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds until the mixture is warm to touch.  Chill bowl in refrigerator until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

For the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine chopped chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl and pour hot coffee over chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Set mixture in the fridge to cool completely, about 20 minutes.

While chocolate and coffee mixture are cooling, whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

Once the coffee chocolate mixture has cooled, whisk in the oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla until smooth.  Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Line standard size muffin pan with baking-cup liners (1/2 cup capacity).  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin pan cups.  Place one rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each cupcake.


Bake cupcakes for 17 to 19 minutes until just firm to touch.  Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.

As stated previously, I had a few failed attempts to make caramel before I found a method and recipe that I managed to get right.  Of course, it came from Ina Garten – The Barefoot Contessa.

Combine the sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan  and cook over low heat for about 5 to 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves.  DO NOT STIR.

Increase the heat to medium and boil until the sugar turns a warm chestnut-brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally to help redistribute the heat.  This is MUCH easier if you have a candy thermometer because the sugar can go from perfect to BURNT in a matter of seconds.  You are watching for about 350 degrees.

DSC_0026 - edit

Turn off the heat and slowly add the cream and vanilla – be careful, it will bubble up!

DSC_0029  - edit

Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes.

You’re going to have more caramel than you need at this point, so you kind of have to eyeball what consistency of ganache frosting you want.  Pour as much hot caramel over the chopped chocolate as you want and mix to combine.  Your personal preference reigns whether you want a more chocolatey or caramelly consistency.  Whisk until smooth and allow to set until spreadable.

DSC_0032 0 edit

Meanwhile, spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool.

Frost the cupcakes, top with the toasted coconut and serve.



  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine (see note)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine (see note)
  • 1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Caramel Ganache Frosting and Coconut

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 8 oz unsweetened large-flaked coconut

Makes 12 cupcakes

Inspired and adapted from: Food and Wine Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Ganache and Coconut

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, Best of America’s Test Kitchen: 2011 and Ina Garten’s Caramel Sauce Recipe


Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Cupcakes, Recipes, Sweets

Follow me!

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

One Comment on “Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Ganache and Toasted Coconut”

  1. February 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

    yum! looks well worth the effort and troubles with the caramel!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: