Monday, July 12, 2010

In Honor of Germany's Performance at the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Okay, so German Chocolate Cake is by no means of German origin, but instead owes its name to Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate; a dark baking chocolate bar created by Englishman Samuel German. But I felt Germany deserved to be acknowledged for an extremely valiant effort in the 2010 FIFA Tournament, and this decadent dessert seems to do them justice regardless of origin. I had also promised my coworkers at From the Top that I would provide them with baked goods after having circulated this blog link around the office. So the choice: German Chocolate Cupcakes.

Let me preface this blog entry by saying the following: these cupcakes are not your standard "Betty Crocker" cupcakes that mushroom 6 inches above the pan. In fact, the tops are almost completely flat. But looks can be deceiving, and this cupcake has a few tricks up its sleeve. The first secret? Separating the eggs. Emulsifying the yolks into the batter then folding in the (whipped) egg whites separately create a texture that is both light and rich! The yolks provide the leavening agent, while the whites incorporate just enough air into the mix to create a fluffy consistency. The second secret: buttermilk! Now I have mentioned this in previous posts - I never purchase buttermilk for baking (unless it is an essential component to the overall taste, in which case I shell out the extra dime). But the simplicity of adding a tablespoon of white vinegar to a cup of milk will produce the desired effect, and it is an effect that is by and far a leading contributor to the beautifully moist texture of these cupcakes.
Now on to the recipe: these cupcakes are from one of my favorite blogs - David Lebovitz. As a resident of Paris, he has learned that the French palate prefers desserts that are not as sugar-laden as American recipes. I personally find it a welcome change of pace considering it presents a dessert that relies more on the quality of its ingredients than on that extra cup or two of calls for cake flour, but having never had the energy/funds to stock up on said ingredient, I always resort to all-purpose. The trick? Loosely-measuring all-purpose flour will produce the same effect as cake flour (as illustrated above). The buttermilk and cake flour shortcuts are two constants in my baking, and saviors to my wallet.
Another change: I used a mixture of unsweetened coconut with sweetened. This combintation produced a well-balanced frosting that wasn't too overwhelming or lacking in sweetness. I also doubled this recipe wanting to create 24 cupcakes...I ended up with 32. Not sure how that happened, but just be aware that this is a possibility. WARNING: upon finishing all the steps required for the batter, you will be tempted to take a spoon and eat it straight from the mixing bowl (see above). RESIST this temptation by all means and proceed to fill those cupcake liners. Trust me, the baked product is way worth it. But definitely feel free to have a spoonful (or five) of the frosting ;)
German Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted (and Doubled) from David Lebovitz
24-28 cupcakes


  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup boiling water or coffee
  • 16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups loosely-measure all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (125 ml) buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tbsp white vinegar/lemon juice)

  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted (or 1 1/2 cups of each)
  • 2 cups chopped, toasted pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Cupcakes: Preheat the open to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. Pour the boiling water or coffee over the chocolate, and stir until melted. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Then mix in the vanilla and the melted chocolate. Whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a clean, dry bowl, whip the two egg whites until stiff, then fold one-third of them in to the chocolate batter, then the rest. Fold just into there are no streaks of white remaining, but don't overfold. Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake for about 25 minutes, until the batter feels just set in the center. Remove from the oven, then let cool for a few minutes.
Once cool enough to handle, remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin and let cool on a wire rack completely before frosting

For Frosting: Whisk together the evaporated milk, brown sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a medium saucepan. Add the butter, then cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula over medium heat, like a custard, until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spatula. Do not let boil.

Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the chocolate, stirring gently until melted. Then stir in the coconut, pecans, and vanilla. (If using just unsweetened coconut, you can add an additional teaspoon of brown sugar if it's not sweet enough, to your taste.) Let cool to room temperature, then use the frosting to ice the cupcakes, topping the cupcakes with a bit of toasted coconut as a garnish after you ice them, if you wish.

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