Thursday, April 25, 2013

German Chocolate Cupcakes

This is Augie.
Please disregard the case of Miller Lite in the background. It was left over from a family visit and we've just now taken back the empties. I didn't want to lose the opportunity for this picture by removing it beforehand. It's very hard to get a puppy to hold a pose. So, like I said, this is Augie. He's the newest member of our family. He's a 9-week-old black lab (he was just about 8 weeks old when this picture was taken) and he's been with us just about 2 weeks. Needless to say we've been pretty busy trying to teach this little guy the ropes and make sure Rollins (our almost 3-year-old yellow lab) still knows we love him. Thankfully the boys actually get along really well, which was my biggest worry. Now if I could only get Augie housebroken... all in good time.

So anyway, that handsome little face is the reason it took me so long to make these German Chocolate Cupcakes.
It's difficult to bake while a puppy is running around under your feet. It's even harder to keep track of him to make sure he's not running around in another room doing something he shouldn't be. For those reasons I waited to bake until my hubby and I would both be home so he could keep an eye on the boys while I worked.

This recipe didn't involve much prep beforehand. I left both the butter and the eggs out overnight to get to room temperature. I had also chopped all the chocolate the day before and just put it in a tupperware until I needed it. I was making chocolate frozen yogurt that also required chopped semisweet chocolate so I figured doing all the chopping at once would save me some time in the long run. I love being efficient. On to the cupcakes... I started with melting the chocolate and after the chocolate was melted I let it cool while I buttered and floured the cupcake pans. One of my least favorite things as I've mentioned many times before.

Making the batter wasn't difficult and it didn't take very long to do. The only hiccup I came across when making the cupcakes was what they looked like when they were done, and getting them out of the cupcake pans. I filled the cupcake pans three-quarters full (or what I think is three-quarters full) and baked them for 20 total minutes with a turn halfway through the baking time. When the cupcakes were done they were very flat and wide. They didn't bake up, they baked across, and in my opinion were quite ugly. But then again, I'm a sucker for a nice round cupcake. I can only conclude that I filled the cupcake pans too full, and since I only got 21 cupcakes instead of the 24 I was supposed to get that's probably the case. So, if I were to make them again I wouldn't fill them quite as full.

The other problem I came across was getting the cupcakes out of the pan. For whatever reason, buttering and flouring the cupcake pans didn't work like it normally does. Out of 21 cupcakes, I think only 2 or 3 of them came out cleanly. For the majority of the cupcakes there was at the very least a small portion that stuck to the bottom of the pan making the cupcakes look very ugly and making me very frustrated. The only thing I can think of is that cake flour doesn't work as well as all-purpose flour, or maybe I didn't butter them enough. I used a paper towel to apply the butter instead of just buttering the pans with the stick of butter itself. The butter was too soft and would have made a mess. I always apply Crisco with a paper towel so I figured using the same technique with butter would work just as well. So it was either the butter or the cake flour, something didn't work right.

After the cupcakes had cooled I set them aside in a tupperware until I could get to making the  Coconut-Pecan Frosting. Time and energy have been lacking for me lately so it took me a day or two to get to it. This frosting was a little more involved than a typical frosting but it wasn't that difficult. First order of business was chopping the pecans so they could be roasted. While the pecans roasted and cooled I worked on putting together the rest of the frosting. The recipe said to heat the frosting over medium heat until it thickened to the consistency of sour cream, roughly 10 minutes. I stirred constantly just like it said and at roughly 10 minutes the mixture wasn't that thick, nor was it the consistency of sour cream. So, I let it go another 10 minutes hoping the consistency would change and that I wouldn't ruin the frosting in the process.

The additional 10 minutes didn't make much of a difference. I suppose it was a little thicker, but it still wasn't sour cream consistency. But, at this point the mixture was boiling and I was worried about burning it, so I stopped when I got to 20 minutes of constant stirring and no success. I was hoping that taking it off the heat would also help it to thicken up a little bit... it did. Once I was done cooking the frosting I strained it through a fine sieve into a medium-sized bowl. I have a small sieve so this took a little while since I had to strain it in batches. Eventually I will invest in a larger sieve. When I was done straining the frosting I stirred in the remaining ingredients and let everything cool before I frosted the cupcakes.

While the frosting was cooling I sliced all the cupcakes in half and entertained the pups for a little while. When the frosting had cooled completely I put one tablespoon on the bottom half of the cupcake, placed the top half of the cupcake on that, and then spread some frosting on the top of each cupcake. This was a bit of a messy process as the frosting was quite sticky, but I thought the cupcakes actually turned out looking quite nice. Especially considering what they had looked like when I took them out of the pan. Don't get me wrong, some still looked a little rough, but they were much improved.

As for the taste of the cupcakes once they were frosted, I didn't love them, but I didn't hate them. I'm not a big fan of coconut or pecans, I know I've mentioned that before, so I didn't expect to like the frosting very much. The frosting itself wasn't terrible, and eating it with the cupcakes definitely helped. The cupcakes themselves, without the frosting were very good and I did actually eat more than one with no frosting at all... less calories! But, when completely finished and frosted I didn't get through half a cupcake. They weren't bad, they just didn't suit my fancy.