Discussing cultural differences are one of my favorite things in the world. I have been so lucky to spend time in other countries, and also to have attended an international affairs graduate school in NY. Now with the expats in Liberia, laughing over our cultural differences becomes an almost daily thing.
Take for example a recent night where we played Apples to Apples. I brought the game to a dinner and played with friends from Holland, Germany, Lebanon, France, Liberia, Israel and Spain. As the only American, it was a constant source of hilarity to be explaining what some of the words meant, and having to take time each round to explain who Walter Cronkite was, or what it means by a snobby maitre’d, or why Times Square really is the definition of “terrifying.” I also never thought that I would, as an adult, be explaining what “cooties” meant to another group of adults. After they stared at me with disbelief, as my friend from Holland put it, in any other country girls and boys just admit they don’t like each other and don’t want to play. Only in America would we invent a fictitious germ to give us a valid excuse not to play with boys!
So, on to these cupcakes. I made them for a German friend’s goodbye party, because I thought, hey! They have German in the title…but no, these are not in fact, nor have they ever been, German. In fact, if I had done some research beforehand, I would have discovered (thanks Wikipedia!) that they actually get their name from the original inventor, Sam German. So…cultural fail on my part, but still, delicious cupcakes were had by all.
After making these cupcakes, I received the single best compliment I have ever received. My friend Monica, an American, was looking thoughtfully at her cupcake, and as she ate, she turned to me and said, “Tracy, I honestly believe this is the best cupcake I’ve ever had.” I kind of felt like my life’s work had been accomplished. 😉
Also, a note on the topping of this one. The recipe from Martha Stewart makes an enormous amount, and the few times that I have made this I’ve been able to make two batches of cupcakes with one thing of topping. Therefore I halved the recipe. I also, given availability in Liberia, usually use walnuts, though the recipe calls for toasted pecans. Either works, and they both taste delicious! And if you do make the full batch according to the Martha Stewart website, you’ll have leftovers to freeze – the topping should last up to six months in the freezer, for the next time you decide to make these delicious cupcakes.
So don’t delay, honestly, start making these and enjoy!
German Chocolate Cupcakes
makes about 30 cupcakes…or if you’re hesitant to make that many, 24 huge topped cupcakes that you then have to load up with frosting and topping – moral of the story, don’t be hesitant to make 30!
Chocolate Cupcakes recipe slightly adapted from allrecipes.com via Baked Perfection
1 package chocolate cake mix – I love Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake, it’s incredibly chocolaty!
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mix, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and espresso dissolved in water.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before topping, by removing from the pan after about ten minutes, and allowing to cool on a wire rack.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
recipe adapted from Baked Perfection
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 – 6 tablespoons milk
Using a hand mixer or vigorously beating with a whisk, cream the butter until it gets light and fluffy. Mix in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, melted chocolate, and the vanilla extract, and either beat or mix with the hand mixer until everything is well blended. Then, add the milk one tablespoon at a time to obtain the desired consistency
Cream the butter on medium speed until it is very light in texture. Add the confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, melted chocolate, and vanilla extract and mix on a low speed until the sugar and butter are blended, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Increase the speed to medium, with the mixer running, add the milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
*Melting chocolate is so easy! First, boil water in a saucepan – once it’s boiling place a metal bowl or another saucepan on top, with the chocolate. Stir continuously until the chocolate melts, and remove from the boiling water as soon as it’s ready.
Coconut Pecan Topping
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
2 large egg yolks
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 and 1/8 cups packed light brown sugar
85 g (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and brought to room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 oz bag of sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
In a saucepan, combine egg yolks, evaporated milk, and brown sugar. Mix and add the butter cut into small pieces, and cook over medium heat, stirring consistently until thick, which should be about 10 -15 minutes. Pour into a heatproof bowl.
Stir in the vanilla, salt, and walnuts. After this mixture is stirred, add in the bag of coconut. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
To Assemble the Cupcakes
Using a decorator tool, pipe the frosting onto the edge of the cupcake in a circle. Then, with a spoon, take a dollop of the chocolate coconut mixture, and fill the middle of the cupcake. Enjoy!