German Chocolate Cupcakes.
Dark chocolate cupcakes with accents of espresso & caramel, with a rich German Chocolate topping with roasted pecans & toasted coconut.
I am actually not a big fan of german chocolate cake. I don’t really like pecans, and I’m very picky about how and when I like my coconut. When I was a little girl, my Grandma made a salad that had sweetened dried coconut in it, and (as I’ve been told), I pushed it aside and said, “Grandma, I don’t really like those lines.”
I still feel that way about dried coconut. Sweetened or unsweetened, I’m not much of a fan. It’s not that I don’t like coconut – fresh coconut is divine. I love to use coconut oil and coconut flour, and love the flavor that coconut adds to tropical treats, like these pineapple muffins. And I love a good piña colada. Especially if I happen to be sipping it in Hawaii.
And pecans… well, I’d much rather have almonds. Or peanuts. Or pistachios. Or any kind of nut, really, other than pecans.
However, recently we had some good friends over for dinner. As I thought about the menu, I asked both of them what they would choose if it was their last meal. Which, sounds kind of morbid, but I’ve found that, before a dinner party, when I ask people what kind of foods are their favorite they say things like, “We’re easy to please. I’m sure whatever you make will be great.” I get it. They want to be polite. But, I really want to make something that my guests will love.
One time, years ago, we had friends over for dinner and I made a South American themed menu. Every dish contained cilantro. Before serving the meal, not knowing what I had prepared, they mentioned that the only herb they really didn’t like was cilantro. So, I now try to avoid those situations.
When I ask people a question like, “What would you choose for your last meal?”, I tend to get to the heart of what they really love. One of the items on our friends’ last meal menu was German Chocolate Cake. So there you have it. I had to make it. I opted for cupcakes, because the other dessert item on their last meal menu was Red Velvet Cake. Rather than make two entire cakes, I made both flavors as cupcakes.
Not being a German Chocolate Cake connoisseur, I did a bit of research before developing this recipe.
The first thing I realized is that, while it’s the chocolate-pecan-coconut topping that makes German Chocolate Cake different from plain Chocolate Cake, it’s still all about the cake. No matter how good the German Chocolate topping, it should not be a cover for mediocre, bland, dry cake.
I wanted the chocolate cake for these cupcakes to be dark and a bit smoky in flavor. So, I added a hefty dose of bittersweet chocolate as well as cocoa powder and a bit of espresso to bring out the richness in the chocolate. I also used some dark brown sugar rather than all granulated sugar because I wanted a hint of caramel and molasses. Finally, I used sour cream instead of milk or water because I thought the sourness of the sour cream would make a luscious background for all of those flavors. Also, using sour cream or yogurt in muffins and cakes makes them ultra moist – always a good thing, in my book.
To bring out the flavors of the pecans and coconut in the topping, I roasted the pecans and toasted the coconut. (Then I had to stop my daughters from eating all the toasted coconut, which apparently they love.) I also loaded the topping with plenty of good quality bittersweet chocolate to offset the sweetness of the sweetened coconut.
How did the cupcakes turn out?
Not being a German Chocolate Cake fan, you’ll have to rely on the opinion of my guests and family. They LOVED them. Raved about them. Couldn’t stop eating them. So, I’d say this recipe is a success.
For all you German Chocolate Cake lovers out there, I hope you’ll try these and let me know what you think. And while up until this point, I have only added recipes to this blog that I personally love, I won’t be so afraid from now on to venture outside of my personal tastes.
- FOR THE GERMAN CHOCOLATE TOPPING:
- 1½ cups evaporated milk
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 tbsp salted butter, at room temperature
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 3½ cups sweetened coconut flakes, dry toasted in a skillet until golden brown,
- 2 cups pecans, roasted in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes, cooled and chopped
- 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp granulated instant espresso powder
- 1 cup boiling water
- 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- 3 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1⅓ cups dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 8 large whole eggs
- 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1½ cups sour cream, full fat
- In a medium size saucepan, combine the evaporated milk, dark brown sugar, egg yolks and salt with a wire whisk until combined. Add the butter to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. This should take 5-10 minutes. Whatever you do, do not let the mixture boil.
- Remove saucepan from the heat and add the bittersweet chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and then stir in 3 cups of the coconut (reserve ½ cup for sprinkling), pecans and vanilla. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cool.
- In a medium size bowl, combine the chopped bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder and espresso powder. Pour the boiling water over the mixture and let stand for 2 minutes before whisking until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
- Line a jumbo cupcake pan with paper liners and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, add the flour and baking soda and stir with a wire whisk to combine.
- Beat the butter, both sugars and salt with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition to incorporate. Scrape down the bowl at least once or twice as you add the eggs.
- Add the vanilla and the chocolate-espresso mixture, and beat on low just to combine.
- Add the sour cream in three additions, alternating with the flour: flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour. Beat well after each addition to fully incorporate - about 30 seconds of beating after each addition - with the exception of the last addition of flour, which should be mixed on low speed just until incorporated.
- Fill each cupcake liner about ⅔ full with batter and bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the cupcakes comes out mostly clean. (This is very moist cake, so you may have a few crumbs clinging to the toothpick, which is fine. If you see batter on the toothpick, they are not done baking.)
- Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool until the cupcakes are cool enough to remove from the pan without smashing them. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Right before serving, top each with a generous amount of German Chocolate Topping and a sprinkling of the reserved toasted coconut.