Let me preface this post with a little confession: I am not a big fan of cake. This statement has actually brought forth such comments as, “How are we even friends?” Cake lovers are a very passionate people! My only defense is that I grew up around birthday cakes from grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Stale, bland cake with sickly sweet frosting. Yuck and yuck. It was not unusual for me to pass up the cake at my own party.
I think the first time I truly enjoyed a cake was when my husband and I went to the tasting for our wedding. Oh, bliss! I never knew cake could taste like this. I can almost understand the obsession now! Still, a habit formed over so many years is hard to break.
When my husband turned 50 last year, I asked if he’d mind a deviation from the traditional birthday cake and instead made this German Chocolate Sheet Cake from King Arthur Flour. It was a huge hit, and not just with the cake lovers. I had three pieces that day. It was that good.
I have been waiting ever since for another excuse to make this cake. Our Labor Day weekend cookout seemed like the perfect time. I adapted the recipe to make cupcakes instead because, let’s face it, they’re just easier. No cutting. No waiting for someone to take that first slice. They’re just there. If you want one, grab one. Want two? Go ahead. No judges here!
To those of you who’ve been asking for the recipe, I apologize for making you wait so long! I already had all my September recipes queued up, waiting to see the light of day…or at least the light of your monitor. Enjoy!
- 1 1/4 cups boiling water
- 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups toasted shredded coconut (see Note 1)
- 1 1/2 cups toasted chopped pecans (see Note 2)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and lightly coat with cooking spray.
- Add the boiling water to the cocoa a bit at time, whisking gently until well blended. Set aside to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
- Whisk the remaining dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and oil; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and add the vanilla. Add the cocoa mixture in three additions, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool, while you make the topping.
- Whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt until thoroughly combined.
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan; stir in the milk, sugar mixture, and corn syrup.
- Bring to a simmer and cook gently, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture thickens slightly, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, coconut, and pecans.
- Spoon the topping evenly onto the cupcakes. Let rest at room temperature for about 1 hour, until the topping sets.
- Cupcakes will keep for several days in the refrigerator.
1. Toast the coconut on a cookie sheet at 300ºF for about 20 minutes, or until golden, stirring every 5 minutes.
2. Toast the pecans on a cookie sheet at 350ºF for 8 minutes, or until fragrant. Allow to cool before chopping.
So tell me… what is the best cake you’ve ever had?