GERMAN CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE GANACHE AND COCONUT TOPPING

Recipe courtesy of The Bear Cupboard (http://bearcupboard.blogspot.com)

Adapted from The Kitchen is My Playground

Rating:  10 out of 10


CUPCAKES:

3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour, whisked, then lightly spooned and leveled

3 Tbsp. unsweetened natural cocoa powder

Scant 3/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. Diamond kosher salt

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cool room temperature


1/2 cup whole or 2% lowfat milk

1 large egg, room temperature

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract


Heat oven to 325F.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper cups.  Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in bowl of a stand mixer.  Using paddle attachment, mix on stir speed until combined and crumbly like sand.


In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg and vanilla.  Slowly pour about half the milk mixture into the flour mixture.  Mix on low speed to combine.  Once combined, turn mixer to high (cake mix speed) and beat for about 10 seconds to remove any lumps.


Return to low speed and pour in remaining milk mixture.  Mix until all ingredients are just incorporated, then beat for about another 30 seconds to one minute, until the batter is smooth.  Remove beaters and bowl and scrape the batter with a spatula, giving it a last few turns to ensure it is evenly mixed.  


Spoon about 2 Tbsp. batter into each cup, to fill cups about half full.  Bake 16-19 minutes, or till cupcakes spring back when lightly touched, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs.  Cool 5 minutes in pan, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.  You can freeze the cupcakes, once cooled, if you intend to make the other components  at a later date.


COCONUT TOPPING:

1 large egg yolk

1/3 cup evaporated milk

2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. unsalted butter

Pinch Diamond kosher salt

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. finely shredded sweetened dried coconut*

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans


For garnish:  12 pecan halves


*To finely shred coconut, first, measure desired amount.  Place in mini food processor and pulse for several seconds to finely shred.  


Combine all topping ingredients except pecans in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until thick, about 7-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in chopped pecans.  Let cool to lukewarm.  Refrigerate, covered, any unused portion.


BITTERSWEET GANACHE:

3 Tbsp. heavy cream

1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, if desired)


In small microwaveable dish, heat cream on high 6-8 seconds, till steaming (or heat cream in small pan on medium heat till steaming).  Add chocolate and stir till combined and smooth.  


ASSEMBLE:

Spread ganache thinly on each cupcake top.  Top with a small cookie scoop (about 1-1/2 Tbsp.) of topping.  Press 1 pecan half onto top of coconut topping on each cupcake.  

Yield:  12 lovely, delicious, decadent, memorable cupcakes


TIP:  If you don't have time to make these all in one shot, then make the cupcakes and freeze them up to a month ahead.  Make the coconut topping and refrigerate for up to a week.  Then, when you want to assemble them, take the cupcakes out to thaw, take the topping out to soften, make the ganache and assemble.