Friday, October 21, 2011

German Vanilla Cupcakes

So, they're not the most beautiful cupcakes I've ever made. But the colorful leaves helped, right? Please tell me they helped.

When I took these over to my parents' house (because I was too embarrassed to bring them to work), I actually left a note that said "They taste better than they look!" so my dad wouldn't be afraid to eat them.

The idea for these cupcakes was born from my love of that dubious looking coconut pecan topping. I wanted to find something other than german chocolate cake (which, as it happens, has nothing to do with Germany) to put it on. And since my favorite cake-frosting combination is vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream, I thought that would be a good place to start.

You might not be able to tell from the pictures, but my experiment was a success. There are a lot of flavors going on--vanilla, chocolate, coconut, caramel, pecan--but they manage to complement each other really well. I used Martha Stewart's vanilla cupcake recipe, which wasn't bad by any means, but I'm still searching for the ultimate vanilla cupcake recipe. Let me know if you have one I should try!

In other news, I did a cupcake decorating demo at the Tacoma Holiday Food & Gift Festival for the cupcake shop I work at earlier this week, and now I'm completely in the holiday spirit. It's taking everything I have not to create a Christmas station on Pandora. Instead, I've resorted to listening to this way more than I'd like to admit.

It's a situation.

German Vanilla Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart, Brown Eyed Baker, and Betty Crocker

For the cupcakes:

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons milk

For the chocolate buttercream:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
3 ounces milk chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

For the coconut pecan topping:

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg yolks
1 & 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped


1. Prepare the coconut pecan topping. In a medium saucepan, stir together the brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk, vanilla, and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until thick and bubbly. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the coconut and pecans. Cool for at least 30 minutes.

2. Make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter for about one minute at medium speed. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar. Beat the butter and sugar for about two minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the vanilla, and continue mixing until totally incorporated.

4. Reduce the mixer's speed to low, and alternately add the dry ingredients and milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for one minute at medium speed.

5. Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin cups, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for about five minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the chocolate buttercream. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes. Reduce the mixer's speed to low, and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once the sugar is mostly incorporated, add the melted chocolate and vanilla. Beat at medium-high speed for about two minutes, or until light and fluffy.

7. To assemble: Frost the cooled cupcakes with a swirl of chocolate buttercream and top with one to two tablespoons of coconut pecan topping.

Makes about 12 cupcakes

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