caramel | coconut | cupcakes | desserts | filling | general tips & tricks | recipe | traditional with a twist | treats | unique

Caramel-drenched vanilla-coconut cupcakes.

January 29, 2011

I’m getting pretty tired of all this damn snow. We’ve been hit with 8 storms since Christmas, and every one has been a substantial amount. As a matter of fact, yesterday (& the day before) I was digging out another 24″ of snow from the driveway. However, really, there’s not much to do about it except complain (which I loathe doing) … & bake. When the going gets tough, the tough get to bakin’! These are kind of an invention of my own. Sure there are probably other recipes out there for coconut caramel cupcakes, but I bet there are none like this!

I first found the boiling can method of making caramel with condensed milk on the internet by accident a while back. I was fascinated, and couldn’t wait to try it. Apparently, it’s an old fashioned yet popular method of making caramel. So obviously, my curiosity was piqued. But I wanted to make something really good to go with it. I also needed to plan it ahead of time, which is something I rarely do. I’m the kinda gal who bakes on a whim, sometimes even at 2 a.m. After much deliberating & searching, I decided to go back & alter a recipe from the April 2009 issue of Bon Appétit. The original recipe is for vanilla bean-coconut cupcakes, but I decided to make them using vanilla sugar & vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans.

Mmm… look at the caramel dripping…


Like I said this takes some planning. They’re a bit time consuming, and they involve quite a few steps, so it’s best to start the night before. First, boil your can of condensed milk. Make sure you keep an eye on it & keep the water level high over the top of the can- otherwise believe me it will explode. While it’s boiling, take a vanilla bean and put it in a tupperware filled with the amount of sugar needed in the recipe. Then once the 3-4 hours is up (I let it boil for about 5 minutes short of 4 hours), turn off the heat and let it cool overnight (longer is fine). The next day, remove it from the water and set it aside. Remove the vanilla bean from the sugar and set it aside, reduce the coconut milk, then let it cool. Make your cupcakes, using the sugar & reduced coconut milk. When they’re still hot but yet only when the can itself is cooled, open the can & spoon (or spread) the caramel over the tops. Easy peasy. Result?

Full cupcake recipe supposedly makes 18, according to them. I halved it & got 16. Either my cupcake tins are really small, or I live in a parallel universe.

VANILLA-COCONUT CUPCAKES (adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe)


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups vanilla sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced coconut milk (see below), room temperature
  • ½ cup sweetened flake coconut (optional)


  1. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line eighteen -cup muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in remaining egg. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended.
  3. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling them halfway to three-quarters full.
  4. Bake cupcakes until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes in pans to rack; cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on rack, unless you’re using the caramel.. then let them sit 5 minutes in the pans then carefully remove them to a rack or silpat & top with caramel. This way the caramel runs & spreads itself on the hot cupcakes.



  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2-3 vanilla beans (it’s okay if they’ve been opened & scraped out already, they still have vanilla flavor)


  1. Place sugar in a tupperware with a well-sealing lid. Put the beans in. Shake container to “bury” beans.
  2. Keep overnight (or longer) in a cool, dry place. Use when needed, but be sure to remove the beans.



  • 1 12-14 ounce can condensed milk
  • very deep, large pot


  1. Fill pot with water. Remove the label from the can. Place can in pot, making sure it’s totally covered with water AT ALL TIMES. Check often to be sure the water level stays high.
  2. Boil for 3-4 hours. Allow to cool in water overnight. Open only when totally cool, and enjoy!

See? Easy. None of the steps are complicated, they’re all incredibly simple, they just take a while to “settle” so to speak. I’ve heard conflicting reports. Some say the caramel stays soft, it will not harden the longer you boil it. Once it reaches it’s caramel point, it’s done. Others say the longer you boil it the harder it gets. It looks like I’ll be trying this again to get to the bottom if that mystery. As I said, I let it boil for not quite 4 hours and it was soft, but it wasn’t drippy (not until I put it on the hot cupcakes, anyway). It won’t make caramel candies, but it would be a good filling for chocolate candies if you make that sort of thing. It’s excellent on these cupcakes, it would also be great as a filling inside the cupcakes, or as the middle frosting layer of a two-layer cake. I would honestly never make caramel another way again. This is the easiest most delicious method EVER.

The liners are from a set of assorted ones I bought from Bake It Pretty.

I don’t see why you can’t make the cakes using coconut milk right out of the can, but this is the method for reducing coconut milk, according to Bon Appétit:

Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to medium-low; boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

As far as how they taste? All I can do is quote Stacy London & say SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Facebook Twitter Email

Only registered users can comment.

  1. I absolutely love caramel, but it never occurred to me to try and make some caramel cupcakes for some reason. But when I read your recipe it all made sense. Bottom line, I’m going to make some caramel cupcakes tonight. Thanks for enlightening me.

  2. Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the web the easiest thing to
    be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about worries that they just do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the
    whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal.
    Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  3. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everyone
    else encountering problems with your blog. It seems like some of the written text in your content are
    running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to
    them too? This could be a problem with my browser because I’ve had this happen before.

  4. I have been surfing on-line more than three hours today,
    yet I by no means discovered any fascinating article like yours.
    It is beautiful price enough for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made just right content material as you probably
    did, the net might be much more helpful than ever before.

  5. Howdy are using WordPress for your site platform?

    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my
    own. Do you need any html coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  6. Greetings! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new initiative
    in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided
    us beneficial information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

  7. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  8. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  9. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the layout of your site?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could
    connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of
    text for only having one or two images. Maybe you could
    space it out better?

  10. Hi! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all
    your posts! Keep up the superb work!

  11. When someone writes an post he/she keeps the idea of a user in his/her
    mind that how a user can be aware of it. Therefore that’s why this paragraph is amazing.

  12. I’ve been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or blog posts on this kind of
    area . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this web
    site. Studying this info So i’m glad to convey that I have an incredibly
    excellent uncanny feeling I discovered just what I needed. I most definitely will make certain to don?t forget
    this site and give it a glance on a constant basis.

Comments are closed.