One question I have been asked quite a few times, since I started blogging, is if I have a favourite cookbook or chef. I really do not and tend to decide to cook/ bake something new if the recipe seems attractive to me. However, in the course of the past two years, two cookbook authors whose recipes haven’t failed me yet are Beatrice Ojakangas and David Lebovitz. I find their recipes very doable and like their simple, well explained and straight forward approach to cooking.
I follow David Lebovitz’s posts regularly, and one of his recipes I had bookmarked to try out were the German Chocolate Cupcakes. To quote from his post,
“I could never understand how anyone couldn't like something so tropically sweet, that it was the perfect partner for dark chocolate.
I can see people not liking things like black licorice or those the icky red peppers bits that people put in things that one has to carefully pick out and leave on the side of the plate. But a dessert made with coconut and dark, bittersweet chocolate? Sign me up!”
I echo that sentiment so I signed up to make some cupcakes for myself.
There is nothing German about these cupcakes (or the chocolate cake which also goes by this name) and the name comes from Samuel German who created a sweet baking chocolate for the Baker’s Chocolate Company. This chocolate cake typically uses chocolate and the frosting is made with chocolate, pecans and coconut.
I adapted this recipe from David’s who in turn adapted them from Lori Longbotham’s Luscious Coconut Desserts. I call my version German (not) cupcakes like the author of the original recipe, but for different reasons.
There were a couple of ingredients in David’s I don’t get here, and he offered me some alternative options for some other unavailable ingredients.
Here’s why mine are different. I reduced the eggs by one yolk because we don’t like an “eggy” smell or taste and so I tend to cut down on the eggs in my bakes to bare possible minimum.
I reduced the butter to 100gms because my butter comes in 100 gm slabs. I replaced the buttermilk with fresh home-made yogurt because I always have it on hand.
This one's topped with chocolate-coconut frosting
For the frosting, I left out the pecans as we don’t get that here. I replaced the egg yolks with cornstarch and here in India, unsweetened coconut flakes are called dessicated coconut. We don’t get evaporated milk either and David suggested I could use heavy cream or half-and-half. Again, I don’t get either, so I used the 25% cream I get here.
These cupcakes were very soft and light in texture. Unlike most American recipes where the sugar is usually on the higher side for our tastes, these are just right when it comes to sweetness.
I think the coffee, semi-sweet chocolate and the cocoa make for a very intense chocolate taste which is more suited to an adult taste.
I would suggest using a sweeter chocolate (or milk chocolate) and substituting the coffee with hot water if baking these cupcakes for children though my teenage daughter liked the dark chocolate version. Oh, and these cupcakes don’t dome very much and tend to be a bit flat on top.
These are the ones with the chocolate mascarpone mousse
The chocolate-coconut frosting pairs up really well with these cupcakes, but then we like coconut. I can understand how only those who really like coconuts would like this frosting, though.
I have made these cupcakes a couple of times now and the last time I did, I had some home-made mascarpone which I used to make some dark chocolate mousse for another project.
So I topped these cupcakes with some of that mousse. Much as I liked the coconut frosting, I have to say the mousse took these cupcakes to an entirely more decadent level.
I have included both the chocolate-coconut frosting and the dark chocolate mascarpone mousse recipes here. These recipes are what I used on my cupcakes and have been adapted from the originals. This also makes both the frostings eggless.
German Chocolate (Not) Cupcakes
(Adapted from David Lebovitz)
¼ cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup boiling coffee decoction
100 gm butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt, at room temperature
First of all, pour the boiling coffee decoction over the chocolate and stir until it has melted. Set this aside.
I use filter coffee decoction because it is always available in my kitchen and the aroma of that coffee is something I love. If you do not have this you can use espresso or mix up some powdered instant coffee in boiling water and use that instead.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and beat well till mixed. Now add the vanilla and coffee-melted chocolate and mix well.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in half of the dry ingredients into the above mixture, add the yogurt and mix till blended. Now add the remaining dry ingredients. Mix again till just blended.
Whip the egg whites in a clean and dry bowl, till stiff. First fold a third of this into the chocolate batter, and then the rest till there are no streaks of white remaining. Do not overfold.
Equally divide the batter between 12 paper lined muffin cups. Bake at 180C (350F) for about 25 minutes, till the batter seems just set in the center. Remove the cupcakes from the oven, cool for a few minutes, and then remove the cupcakes from the muffin tins. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting them.
This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.
(Adapted from David Lebovitz)
3/4 cup cream (25%)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
30gm salted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups dessicated coconut, lightly toasted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
additional toasted coconut, for garnishing (optional)
Whisk together the cream, brown sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.
Add the butter and cook the mixture, stirring constantly over medium heat, until the mixture begins to thicken and takes on a custard-like consistency and coats the spatula. Do not allow it to boil.
Take off the heat and immediately whisk in the chocolate, stirring gently until melted. Then stir in the coconut and vanilla. (If using unsweetened coconut, add an additional teaspoon of brown sugar if you would like the frosting sweeter.)
Cool the frosting to room temperature, then frost the cupcakes and garnish with a bit of toasted coconut if you wish.
Dark Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse:
(Adapted from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard)
3/4 cup cream (preferably 36% to 40%, but I used 25% which worked well)
grated zest of 1/2 a medium sized lemon
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup mascarpone
1 tsp vanilla extract
Warm 1/2 cup the cream and lemon zest together in a saucepan over medium heat. Once warm, add the chopped chocolate and whisk until the chocolate melts and becomes smooth. Pour this in to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
Put the mascarpone, the remaining cream and vanilla in a bowl. Beat for about a minute, on low speed, until the mascarpone softens. Beat some more, on medium speed, until it holds soft peaks. Take care not to over beat as the mascarpone will break.
Refrigerate the mousse for about half an hour or so, till it thickens a bit, and then transfer to a piping bag and frost your cupcakes.
This recipe makes a little more mousse than you will need to frost your cupcakes. You can refrigerate the remainder and serve it as part of some other dessert (it is especially good with fruit).