I was asked to make German Chocolate cupcakes for a birthday party, and while I'm no stranger to cupcakes, German Chocolate wasn't in my repertoire. I make a great cake, mind you, but the cake base is very delicate and wouldn't hold up as a cupcake. Then there's the issue of texture - most German Chocolate cakes are thin layers sandwiched with filling, which serves to make the cake moister after a day or two. A cupcake would have to stand on its own.
I did plenty of research and lots of recipes simply veered too much from the classic, using dark chocolate or dressing it up in ways I find undesirable. Even Martha's cupcakes were split and layered, made to resemble small cakes. That wasn't going to work for 60 cupcakes. In the end, I found a recipe from the incomparable Rose Levy Beranbaum, best known for The Cake Bible, and her newest book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes.
The cake base is a little darker than a classic German Chocolate cake, but still mellow like the original. It also has a similar texture, without being quite as delicate. All in all, a very good cupcake. For the best flavor and texture, make them the day before you plan to serve them.
German Chocolate Cupcakes:
adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes
(makes 24 standard size cupcakes)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder (sifted before measuring)
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup canola or safflower oil, at room temperature
4 large eggs, separated, plus 2 additional whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup cake flour (sifted into the cup and leveled off)
2/3 cup bleached, all-purpose flour (sifted into the cup and leveled off)
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Prepare foil cupcake liners (with white inner liners still attached) by spraying the insides with Baker's Joy (or another baking spray that contains flour) and place in muffin pans.
2. Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, by hand, whisk the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. To speed cooling, place the mixture in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before proceeding.
Add the oil and yolks to the chocolate mixture. Attach the whisk beater. Starting on low speed, gradually raise the speed to medium and beat for about 1 minute, or until smooth and shiny, and resembling a buttercream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla for a few seconds.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
5. Add half of the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. Beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. The mixture will be very thick.
Starting on low speed, add the egg whites. Gradually raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes. The batter will now be like a thick soup. Using a silicone spatula, scrape it into a 2-cup or larger cup with a spout. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, a little over half full.
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the pan, to a wire rack, and let cool.
Frost with Classic Coconut-Pecan Filling.