Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Chocolate Cupcakes with Rum Coconut Caramel Cream Cheese Icing

It was my daughter's birthday yesterday, so I decided that cupcakes were needed to celebrate. As she was turning 22, I made adult cupcakes...deep, dark chocolate cake with a not too sweet cream cheese icing. Oh yes, and lots of rum...

I still had a mini bottle (50ml) of dark rum from Hawaii, so used it in both the cake batter and the caramel sauce that I added to the cream cheese to make the icing. Instead of whipping cream, I used the coconut cream that had settled at the top of the partial can of coconut milk in the fridge (the rest of the coconut milk got frozen for another use).

First, make the cake, then while it bakes and cools you can make the caramel sauce and then the icing. Heat the oven to 350F and line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners. If you don't have paper liners, lightly grease each muffin cup.

Sift together the dry ingredients:

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Combine the wet ingredients:

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons dark rum

In an electric mixer, cream:

6 ounces soft butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar

Cream until light in colour, and fluffy, scraping the bowl down occasionally.


2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl down in between additions

Add a third of the dry ingredients, and mix on low speed until combined.

With the mixer running on the lowest speed, slowly add half of the wet ingredients.

When they are incorporated, scrape the bowl down.

Repeat the last two steps, and then add the final third of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 lined muffin cups.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes; a wooden skewer should come out clean when the cupcakes are tested.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before icing.

While the cupcakes are baking, toast some coconut to use for decorating the iced cupcakes.

It will burn very quickly, so keep an eye on it! It also tends to toast faster around the outside edges, so I like to check it and stir it...often.

Make the coconut caramel sauce next; it also needs to cool before being added to the cream cheese.

Using a spoon, carefully scrape the thickened layer of coconut cream from the refrigerated coconut milk .

Measure out half a cup. Set the rest of the coconut milk and cream aside for another use.

 In a heavy bottomed pan measure out:

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water

 Heat over a low heat until the sugar starts to melt

Increase the heat to medium and allow it to come to a slow boil

As the sugar and water boil the water will evaporate and you will be left with a sandy mixture.

Keep cooking it over a low heat...

As the sugar continues to cook it will start to melt and become liquid again, and this liquid will start to caramelize.

 When the majority of the sugar has melted, crush any remaining lumps of sugar, and allow it to keep cooking on low heat.

At this point you can increase the heat slightly, but keep a constant eye on will turn from caramel to burnt in a few seconds!

You are looking for a deep amber colour.

Turn off the heat and add the 1/2 cup of coconut cream.

It will bubble up and hiss, so stand back until it settles down.

Stir the sauce to dissolve any bits of caramel.

Turn the heat back onto low, and cook, stirring until any bits of remaining caramel have melted.

Stir in:

1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pour the caramel sauce into a bowl and allow to cool completely.

I put mine into the fridge when it had cooled to room temperature.

To make the icing, place 10 ounces softened cream cheese into the bowl of an electric mixer.

Whip to remove any lumps.

Start off by adding 1/3 cup of cold caramel sauce to the cream cheese and whipping to combine.

Taste, and add more if you feel it needs it.
I added about 1/2 cup in total.

The icing will be smooth, creamy and light and fluffy.

Now for the fun part...spread the icing onto the 12 cooled cupcakes, and decorate as you like, using the extra caramel sauce and toasted coconut.

  • If you want a less deep, dark chocolate taste, reduce the cocoa to 1/2 cup and increase the flour by 1/2 cup. 
  • Decreasing the cocoa will give the allusion of a sweeter cake; fold in chocolate chips to increase the sweetness. You can also fold in chopped nuts such as hazelnuts or pecans, dried fruit such as cranberries or cherries, bits of toffee or toasted coconut.
  • Change flavour profile of the cupcakes by adding orange zest; using mint or almond extract; using a different liqueur in place of the rum (Grand Marnier or Kahlua are good choices); use coffee, Earl Grey tea or juice instead of rum; add spices...cinnamon, chili powder, star anise, cardamom; a small amount of grated fresh ginger will add a bit of heat as well as ginger flavour.
  • I had no sour cream, so I used the last of my plain no fat Greek yoghurt...I had exactly enough! Coconut cream could be used if you like, so could a flavoured yoghurt.
  • The batter could also be baked as a large cake, in an 8" or 9" round pan or an 8" square pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, and lightly grease the outsides. Adjust the baking time accordingly.
  • The baked cupcakes can be frozen.
  • If you have no coconut milk/cream, use regular whipping cream for the caramel sauce.
  • The sauce can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for 3 - 4 days.
  • Use the sauce as a topping for ice cream, drizzle over brownies or apple pie, use as a dip for fruit, serve with waffles, or add it to your coffee for a hit of caramel.
  • The icing is not very sweet, despite the addition of the caramel sauce. The tang of the cream cheese still stands out. You can add icing sugar if you want a sweeter icing...add a tablespoon at a time as too much icing sugar can leave a bitter aftertaste.
  • The decorating choices are up to your imagination. Drizzle with caramel sauce or melted chocolate; use nuts or toasted coconut to garnish; cut the top off the cupcake, ice the bottom and put the top back before decorating it...more icing per cupcake!
  • Store the cupcakes well covered in the refrigerator, but allow them to warm up to room temperature before serving. This recipe made 12, more than enough for 4 people, but my neighbour shares my daughter's birthday...and who doesn't want a cupcake for their coffee break at work or school?

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