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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Little Bite of Heaven

Today is a long-overdue cake day for my office. So overdue that we're celebrating six month's worth of birthdays, I think. (Ummm...happy belated birthday!)

I offered to make cupcakes. After all, I'm always looking for an opportunity to play around and create an interesting cupcake.

After my grouchy day yesterday, I was in the mood for chocolate. However, I also knew that I needed a cupcake that could be translated (is that the best word, I wonder?) into a gluten-free version for one of my colleagues. I researched gluten YES and NO ingredient lists and finally settled on making German Chocolate Cupcakes.

Because I don't have all the time in the world to bake from scratch these days, I started with a cake mix and doctored it based on suggestions I found in the Chowhound discussion forums. I was inspired by Chockylit's German Chocolate topping...though my night-before-execution was terrible, resulting in my own unique approach to the topping.

The following is the recipe as originally attempted, along with my notes on how to work around your mistakes to develop a yummy cupcake anyway.

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcake Base
  • 1 box Triple Chocolate cake mix
  • 1 box chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup oil
Mix together thoroughly. The batter will be thick and springy - almost pudding-like.

Note for gluten-free:
Use a gluten-free chocolate cake mix, such as Cherrybrook Kitchen's. Mix following above instructions (everything listed above is gluten-free), but add 2 t. gluten-free vanilla. Thanks to happy accident, we learned that 1 tablespoon of evaporated milk gives the cake a much richer flavor.

And related to that, when working with a kitchen helper (such as The Niece), be more specific regarding where ingredients should be added. For example, "Pour the evaporated milk into the container, please" is not nearly descriptive enough when there are two bowls on the counter and a saucepan.

I digress.

Spoon the batter into lined muffin tins. It works best if you fill the cups 2/3 of the way.


Milk Chocolate Glaze

  • 4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan until bubbles form around the edge. Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until smooth. Add vanilla and stir until combined. Refrigerate to cool.

Another side note - make sure you have enough room to work. It's an awful thing to dump out your already low supply of vanilla. Bummer.

In the interest of full confession, I must tell you that my chocolate glaze was a total failure. It tasted yummy, but it was more like chocolate milk (er, cream) than a glaze. We licked our fingers, called it good, then dumped it out and frosted the cupcakes with a thin layer of chocolate fudge frosting from a can. Whatever.

Coconut-Pecan Topping

  • 1 egg
  • 1-5 ounce can of evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1-1/3 cups shredded, sweet coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Crack the egg into a small saucepan and beat lightly to break up. Add milk, sugar, and butter. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thick, bubbly, and golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add coconut and pecans, stir to combine. Refrigerate to cool.

Important note: remember that 1 stick of butter=1/2 cup butter. This will dramatically affect the topping's consistency and texture. A good remedy, if you were to add too much better, is to dump a lot of coconut and pecans into the mixture. Trust me, this works.


Drizzle a teaspoon of glaze on each cooled cupcake (or frost as described earlier), top with a glop of coconut-pecan topping.

Despite my various baking and decorating disasters, these are still incredibly cute and definitely tasty.

The guys who pushed the elevator button for me this morning would agree. They each took a cupcake as payment for their services! I'm glad I brought a few extras...

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