Monday, August 26, 2013

German Chocolate Cupcakes Are Not German

Chocolate Cake with a ring of Chocolate Buttercream topped with Gooey Caramel, Toasted Pecan, and Coconut Frosting

German Chocolate Cake is my  life partner's favorite cake.  On our many walks, I often bring up cake and learned this was his favorite since his step-mother specifically made this cake for his birthday every year.  It was not so much the flavor profile as it was the individual act.

I kept picking at this scab because I just didn't understand it.  I've never liked German Chocolate Cake. Ever.  The cake has always been dry and the frosting was just so-so.  Admittedly, I've only eaten boxed mix and the tub frosting - so I didn't understand what it was supposed to taste like.

For lack of a better phrase, I shelved the German Chocolate Cake....until a dear friend of ours brought it back up.  "It's my favorite."  So, I went back to my life partner to talk this cake out again.  Apparently, he's only ever eaten the boxed variety...the last one being some time in the late 70s.  I think we're long overdo for a German Chocolate Cake revisit.

Studying German Chocolate Cake...I learned it's not German at all.  Ugh?  American entrepreneur Sam German developed a type of dark baking chocolate for the American Baker's Chocolate Company. The brand name of the product became Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate.  In 1957, a lady in Dallas baked German's Chocolate Cake using this particular chocolate.  The possessive 's' was dropped and we have modern day, German Chocolate Cake... it has nothing to do with Germany.  /end lesson

Knowing I love my Chocolate Cake sponge, I kept it essentially the same.  I used buttermilk instead of whole milk and added 2T plain yogurt.  Anticipating the frosting would be super-sweet, the extra zing in the chocolate I hoped would help the palette.

I gave myself a gold star for uniform size.

While the cupcakes were cooling, I  tackled the frosting - adapted from Ina Garten's recipe.  I didn't add almond extract or almonds, I used 2½ tsp dark vanilla, ¼ c. less milk (my evaporated milk was expired so I used whole milk) and added an additional 1 c. coconut.  Ok, maybe a couple variations, but these recipes have generally the same ingredients.

I found out the evaporated milk was expired when I added it to the pan of melted butter.  "I don't think it's supposed to be lumpy" ... double checked date on can. Ooops.  The second pan worked out just fine with those recipe variations. Whew.  Hot tip: It's worth the extra effort and pain in the backside to toast the pecans.  You may not want to hear that.  But, do it.  You'll thank me later.

The more time you give the frosting to sit.. the thicker it will be and easier to use.  This presumes patience on the baker's part.  Sometimes I'm not very patient and might be tempted to add more coconut to get things going.  Your call.

This frosting recipe should come with a warning..."This is too good to stop eating."  Not a lie.

I piped on a ring of chocolate buttercream.  I didn't quite have enough butter in the house so I added a couple tablespoons of cream cheese - it smoothed out and had a wonderful taste.  I tried about nine or ten different piping techniques with my 1M, but wasn't happy with any of them; I stuck with the circle.  Next time, I'll use a smaller tip and try different patterns.  Vive la Test Kitchen.

I liken my frosting to big hair ... The Bigger The Frosting, The Closer to God (it's a variation).  Tall frosting intrigues me.  Taller frosting is downright fun. 

It's a wonderful thing I could bake these for my husband.  I'm grateful I can do this for him.  And! I love conquering new things.  Can't wait to try this again on a full-sized cake.


  1. Um, so what if you hate pecans with a passion? Or maybe they just give you canker sores?? Will it suck without them? /freaking out

    1. Yikes! There are several options - baking is a wonderfully forgiving practice. Coarsely chopped almonds and 1/2 tsp of almond extract is a winner in the coconut frosting. Also, don't be afraid to try walnuts instead of pecans. Secretly, I can't wait to try this with macadamia nuts or cashews - these are a perfect pairing with coconut and caramel. Doesn't it sound delicious? Good luck!

  2. So in a conversation this week, someone asked if German chocolate cake was from Germany. I could answer this question since I follow your awesome blog! Thank you!!

    1. That's the best story all week! I love it. It seems as though my work here is done. Much love.