It’s Girl Scout cookie season! I can barely walk into the grocery store without being asked to buy some delicious treats. Girl Scout cookies only roll around once a year, so of course I have to indulge in a box or two (or three or four). As a former Girl Scout, I also feel the need to lend a helping hand to the youngsters who are trying to earn their badges and cookie prizes.
I’m a huge fan of Thin Mints and Tagalongs, but my favorite Girl Scout cookie breed is the Samoa.
How can I make this treasured Girl Scout cookie even more incredible? Bake it into a cupcake, of course!
There are some general guidelines that many bakers follow when creating cupcake recipes. The weight of the flour should be greater than or equal to the weight of the sugar. The wet ingredients (including eggs) should be similar in weight to that of the flour. Finally, the fat should equal the mass of the eggs (1).
These rules are meant to be broken every once in a while, of course.
Many chefs and bakers will highly recommend using butter to increase textures and flavors of any food. Call me crazy, but I have never enjoyed the taste of butter. It seems like caramelized old cheese, and it is a little too slimy for my liking.
I’ve learned throughout my food science and nutrition education that butter contains tons of saturated fat. This type of fat is known to lead to heart and cholesterol problems. The average person should limit their diet’s saturated fat content to less than 10% of their daily caloric intake.
As previously stated, many rules come with exceptions. If you make your own butter, or if you buy local butter from a farmer who has grass-fed cows, then you shouldn’t be as concerned when eating little amounts of butter. This form of butter will have significant Vitamin K2 content, a substance found in animal products that may prevent calcification (clogging) of arteries. However, most sources of butter in the grocery store have different lipid (fat) profiles, and may not contain adequate amounts Vitamin K2 (2).
I like to get my dietary saturated fat sources from coconut oil instead. Not only does it taste amazing, but coconut oil has beneficial healing properties that make it worth the extra fat calories.
Fats are made up of triglycerides, and each one varies in length and size. Triglycerides can have short chains, medium chains, or long chains. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are sometimes used as nutritional supplements for low birth weight babies to ensure adequate energy. MCTs may also boost metabolism, which can be beneficial for those with low thyroid function.
Coconut oil is one of my favorite MCTs. The majority of fat from coconut oil contains Dodecanoic acid, or lauric acid. Lauric acid is described as “soapy” in the flavor industry. The best description that I can relate to “soapy” is a thick, fatty mouthfeel with a cilantro-like aftertaste.
Studies have shown that lauric acid may raise HDL cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol is the “good cholesterol” that swims through the blood stream and sweeps away “bad” LDL cholesterol (3).
Lauric acid also makes coconut oil a great antimicrobial and antifungal supplement. Monolaurin, which is derived from lauric acid, destroys the membranes of fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Monolaurin can help fight a cold, the flu, fatigue, and fungal infections like Athlete’s Foot.
Monolaurin is naturally derived from two sources- coconuts and breast milk. This fact contributes to the idea that immunity is stronger in breastfed babies (4).
I use coconut oil on my skin and hair as a moisturizer. The oil penetrates cell membranes to repair damaged skin and hair follicles. The oil may also ward off dandruff!
Although coconut oil has a lower melting point than butter, it can be used as a 1:1 replacement in baking. Try to avoid refined coconut oils, as these items will have lost some of their amazing properties during processing.
It only seems natural to add coconut oil into my cupcakes, since the Samoa has a sweet coconut taste. Ready to eat the magic?
For the cupcakes: 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/2 tsp white vinegar (or lemon juice), 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, 3 large eggs, 1 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2/3 cup crushed or ground Samoas
For the caramel sauce*: 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/4 tsp salt
Caramel sauces are difficult to make without butter, because butter has an ideal melting temperature for these items.
For the topping: 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1/3 cup caramel sauce, 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, toasted coconut and Samoas for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Pour the whole milk and vinegar (or lemon juice) into a liquid measuring cup. Mix well and set aside for at least five minutes.
This serves as a replacement for buttermilk!
In a stand mixer or large bowl, add the brown sugar and coconut oil. Mix the contents of the bowl until the sugar looks runny or creamed.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix the batter between each addition. Add the baking powder and baking soda to the batter. Mix well.
Add 1 cup of flour to the batter, and mix it until the flour is fully incorporated. Add the milk mixture to the batter, and mix again.
You will need about 5 to 7 Samoas to get 2/3 cup of the crushed cookies. Use a blender or food processor to grind the Samoas. If you don’t have a food processor, then you can place the Samoas into a plastic bag and crush them with a cup, rolling pin, or fist.
Crush the cookies until they are finely ground.
Place 2/3 cup of ground Samoas into the batter and mix well. You will most likely have leftover pieces, so feel free to save them as a sprinkle topping.
Line 1 1/2 cupcake tins with 16 cupcake liners. Grease the inside of the liners with a little coconut oil, butter, or cooking spray. Fill up the cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way.
Place the cupcakes into the oven for about 15 minutes. The cupcakes are finished when an inserted knife can be cleanly removed from their center. The cupcakes will look risen and golden-brown.
Set the cupcakes aside to cool, and make the caramel sauce.
Put the butter, sugar, and salt into a medium saucepan. Apply medium heat and stir the contents until the butter has completely melted. The sauce will begin bubbling.
Add the milk and keep stirring! Allow the mixture to come to a rolling boil for 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool until it’s almost at room temperature.
Place 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1 cup confectioner’s sugar in a medium bowl. Stir the contents until the sugar becomes softened. Add 1/3 cup of the caramel sauce and mix well. Store the remaining caramel sauce in a glass jar in the fridge for about 3 weeks.
You’ll notice that the topping will start to seize. I didn’t plan for this to happen, so I decided to use chocolate as a quick-fix.
Measure 1/2 cup chocolate chips and melt them in the microwave. Pour the melted chips into the medium bowl and stir them into the topping. The texture of the topping will seem chunky, but the flavor is completely reminiscent of a Samoa. A Samoa also has varying texture due to the coconut shavings, so the altered topping fits perfectly with the cupcakes.
Spread the topping onto each cupcake. You may have extra topping, so feel free to do what you want with it!
Place coconut shavings on the chocolate toppings. Then add a piece of Samoa.
Now you can taste the Samoa in cupcake form, and chow down on some amazing coconut oil!
Tip: Refrigerate the leftover cupcakes overnight to get a hardened, chocolatey topping.
1. “The Science Behind Cupcakes.” Yuppiechef. 2011. Accessed 9 April 2014. Available at http://www.yuppiechef.com/spatula/the-science-behind-cupcakes/
2. Gunnars, Kris. “Grass-fed Butter is a Superfood for the Heart.” Authority Nutrition. 14 Nov 2013. Accessed 9 April 2014. Available at http://authoritynutrition.com/grass-fed-butter-superfood-for-the-heart/
3. “The Surprising Benefits of Coconut Oil.” The Dr. Oz Show. 29 Oct 2012. Accessed 9 April 2014. Available at http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/surprising-health-benefits-coconut-oil
4. “Monolaurin.” WebMD. Accessed 9 April 2014. Available at http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1149-MONOLAURIN.aspx?activeIngredientId=1149&activeIngredientName=MONOLAURIN
*The caramel sauce recipe was borrowed from The Level-Headed Chef: http://thelevelheadedchef.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/caramel-sauce-without-heavy-cream/
© The Baking Tour Guide