Verdict: win

This was another sweet idea (pun intended) born from a promise with a co-worker to make German chocolate cake. Cake is difficult to bring into work because you need plates and knives. Cupcakes, on the other hand, are easily portable (liners!) and their individual serving size bypasses the messiness of cutting cake...and they're just so darn cute. Cupcakes > cake in my book.

I looked for German chocolate cupcake recipes, but nothing really stood out to me. I decided to adapt the recipe for German chocolate cake on David Lebovitz's website, which turned out to be incredibly easy to do. The biggest changes was the baking time (as noted below). I also skipped the syrup step, but next time I won't because the cupcakes (in my opinion) could have been slightly more moist. Nevertheless, the general consensus was that the cupcakes turned were great! I've never really cared for German chocolate cake, but these were fantastic and not cloyingly sweet. I loved the contrast of the slightly bitter chocolate icing with the sweet filling over a mild chocolate cake.

This was my first time working with real chocolate in a cake (vs using cocoa powder). It wasn't too hard! I will say that melting chocolate in a microwave WITH water mixed in scared me at first (usually this results in burnt chocolate...), but by zapping it every 10-30 seconds, then checking on it and stirring it, it turned out alright. It did look a little grainy, but once it was mixed into the batter everything looked and tasted fine. And just FMI (for my information), the cupcake tops will look domed in the oven, but they will sink after cooling.

Don't let the length of this recipe scare you (like it did me initially). There looks like there are a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps, but if you "mise en place" method when setting up, it made everything a lot faster and easier to work with. The only other trick is being careful not to over whip the egg whites. I used tips from my trials with making macarons: immediately stop whipping when you can lift the bowl over your head and the whites won't fall down, and very quickly but very gently fold it into the batter. Works like a charm :)

German Chocolate Cupcakes adapted from German Chocolate Cake posted by David Lebovitz
Yield: 28-30 cupcakes

For the cake:
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons water
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted

For the syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum

For the chocolate icing:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

To make the cake:
1. Line cupcake pans with paper liners (aluminum liners will make the cake cook faster and the cake will end up drier). Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Melt both chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave. Stir until smooth, then set aside until room temperature.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks, one at a time.

4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

5. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, then the rest of the dry ingredients.

6. In a separate metal or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft, droopy peaks. Beat in the 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff.

7. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there’s no trace of egg white visible.

8. Divide the batter into the cupcake liners (about 3/4 full), smooth the tops, and bake for about 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

9. Cool cupcakes in the pans for a few minutes, then remove cupcakes from the pans and place them on a cooling rack until completely cooled.

10. While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup, and icing.

To make the filling:
1. Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the 3 ounces butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.

2. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170°.)

3. Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken.)

To make the syrup:
In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.

To make the icing:
1. Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 3 tbsp of butter.

2. Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Let sit until room temperature.

To assemble the cupcakes:
Brush each cupcake top well with syrup. Then top cupcake with a heaping tbsp of the filling and spread it evenly around the middle in the form of a circle (be careful to leave a little bit of an edge to allow for the icing). Pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the filling, encircling the coconut topping.


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