Saturday, August 01, 2009

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Zetta's grandma used to bake her a german chocolate cake every year for her birthday, so when we started working together in 2004 she asked me to carry on the tradition. I had never made a german chocolate cake before and after searching the internet for a good recipe I learned 1. This cake isn't from Germany and 2. This cake is actually called German's Chocolate Cake after Mr. German who wanted to sell his chocolate and came up with this cake recipe. That left me feeling free to just use RLB's All-American Chocolate Butter Cake and cover it with the classic coconut-pecan frosting, of which 5 million versions are available online. I tried a couple different recipes to varying degrees of success; Zetta was always very gracious about my attempts at German Chocolate Cake, including the one that fell apart on the way to her house.

Last year RLB posted her recipe for the coconut-pecan goop on her blog*; it will be in her new book. I excitedly bookmarked that recipe as I knew I would need to try it out for Zetta and get her opinion.

McStaceh's  Cupcakes

July 9, 2009
Name of cupcakes:Experiments for Zetta
Occasion: Zetta's Birthday!
Constituents: Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake* (as cupcakes) frosted with Rose Levy Beranbaum's Classic German Chocolate Cake filling (aka The Goop)

*Links to recipes at end of post.

I am currently working with a couple as their doula and the lady is an avid baker, blogger, and overall amazing crafty artist. Somehow we got on the topic of cakes and she told me that she was on the quest for a scratch cake that was similar in texture to what most people are familiar with: box cake (you know, the kind that you add water, oil, and an egg or two before mixing together and baking). I mean, most scratch butter cakes adhere to the light, tender, falls apart in your mouth type of cake, and I guess box cake is more dense, moist, a little spongy, kind of chewy, ridiculously sweet, and full of chemicals. And that's what most Americans are raised on and think is Normal Cake!

Ahem. I am finished with my tirade.

Anyway, she was telling me that she found a recipe that was pretty good at mimicking the box cake experience, and that I should try it too. So since I was already going to experiment with a new frosting recipe, why not experiment with a new cake recipe too?

The cake recipe comes from the lovely Ina Garten, whose show, Barefoot Contessa, I loved watching when I had cable. It is a very simple and quick recipe--I mean, even accounting for the fact the I split her recipe in half, I was a little surprised how quickly I finished mixing the batter. I thought I must have forgotten something! Being an oil-based recipe the batter was thin and runny; I transferred the batter to a big measuring cup in order to more easily pour into the cupcake cups.

Oh yeah--the cupcake cups. I thought that since the cupcakes were getting The Goop it might be fun to try that crazy Martha Stewart idea of lining the cupcake cups with fancy squares of parchment. (Martha got the idea from Sweet Revenge Bakery.)

McStaceh's  Cupcakes

Of course, my parchment squares were huge and out of control, but I was too lazy to bother cutting them down to a perfect size. So I was glad the batter was pourable. There was extra batter so I made a little cakelette for Joelf and I to sample.

The cupcakes baked up nicely and easily. The cake was everything people love about box cake (spongy, light, chocolaty, moist, open crumb) except in my opinion it tasted much better. And no chemicals! Hooray!

Rose's recipe for The Goop is much, much easier than all the others I have tried. Another hooray!! It requires simmering a few egg yolks with sweetened condensed milk and butter until thick enough to pool slightly on the surface. Then you add chopped toasted pecans, coconut flakes, and vanilla and cook for a little longer and, finished! I was also surprised how quickly this version comes together, and it was really tasty. I am not a big fan of The Goop but this stuff I could get used to.

I didn't really wait for The Goop to cool down as I was frosting cupcakes that were encased in parchment; I didn't think the frosting had anywhere to go if it were so inclined.

McStaceh's  Cupcakes

I brought them to work the next day and presented them to the lovely Zetta. She seemed happy to be getting her traditional birthday cake, even if it was a little untraditional, and she really liked The Goop. She said it was buttery in a way the others weren't. I thought so, too. I was glad she liked my experimental birthday cupcakes.

PS: Zetta, when I went to see if you still had a blog, I re-read the posts that are up on the front page and I wanted to publicly tell you that I know that you haven't been feeling bloggy lately but I hope someday you will, 'cause you're a beautiful writer.

McStaceh's  Cupcakes

Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake
Rose Levy Beranbaum's German Chocolate Cake Filling

Past adventures making The Goop:
its peanut butter zetta time (2007): no photos but I made the realization that The Goop is kind of like dulche de leche.
Giving Zetta What She Deserves (2006): This includes my irreverant take on recipe writing, a not very carmelized Goop, as well as a tiny little comment fight!
The Cake That Fell Apart (2004): The post is in preparation of my attempt at making ice cream cakes for my birthday. I threw a huge tantrum when Zetta's cake fell apart on the way to her house. Lucky you weren't there. (Regenia, sorry that you were.)


  1. Oh ECL.
    You give me so much and you don't even know it. The cupcakes were awesome, but nowhere near as awesome as you.

  2. I like the parchment liners! A much more interesting look than cupcake liners, but I'll bet they were kind of a pain to do.

  3. Zetta, you are the best cheesy pouff a girl could have. Love and kisses!

    Amanda, well look at you and your cute little avatar! The parchment liners were kind of a pain; I had to anchor them down with silicone cupcake cups until I could pour the batter in.

  4. Oooh, that goop looks fabulous. I'm so glad that will be coming to my house eventually, when I get around to it.
    I had forgotten about your rude commenter! Is that when you added the dicipher-the-word step? I get the word wrong about half the time, but Blogger always gives me a second chance.

  5. I left a comment earlier...where has that gone to?
    Well, I guess I have to redux it.
    Your little parchment cake dens look so sweet! It all looks so moist and lovely and gooey.
    I had to re read your rude commenter's comment as I missed it the first time around. Breadbasketcase pointed it out and all. Honestly, what gets into someone to leave such utter nonsense! Made me laugh though. The ass.
    I see you are a lucky 'wiener' on Dozen Flours. Congratulations!

  6. BBC, I can't wait to see you take on The Goop, especially with Rose's version of the German's Chocolate Cake part.
    That rude commenter came around looking for the guitar cake that Joelf and I made last May, then settled on that post for her rude comment. (Well, I think it was a her.)

    Melinda, these cakes are moist and lovely and gooey. They're a little too moist for me, personally.
    I wish I knew what was in that person's head when they left their crud in my comments! Oh well.
    Regarding my weiner status, thanks! I am looking forward to trying out some of those recipes before all the summer fruit slips away.

  7. Cute! I always have German Chocolate Cake (or should I say "German's Chocolate Cake"?) for my birthday, too.

    I second it about Zetta's blog -- I have never met her, but I used to always click through from your blogroll links and read her great writing. Is that weird?

  8. Raiuchka, heck no, that's the beauty of the blogroll; it's like introducing two of your friends to each other hoping they'll become friends too.
    Where do you get your birthday cake?

    See Zetta? Even strangers like your blog!(Yelling at Zetta and pointing to you.)

  9. :-)

    My mom always makes my birthday cake from an old recipe. I think it was my grandmother's, so it might be the original promotional recipe.

    Funny how the origin of these things gets lost -- it reminds me of the Friends episode when Phoebe drives Monica crazy trying to recreate the perfect chocolate chip cookie that P. remembers from her childhood -- and it turns out to be the Tollhouse recipe on the back of the chocolate chips bag!

  10. hmm, i wonder how that recipe differs from RLB's goop? (and will wonder in the future how that recipe differs from RLB's cake.)

    that is awesome that your mom bakes you birthday cake every year.

  11. If you want I will send you my mom's recipe so you can compare! I have it here in my recipe box. The cake recipe does call for Baker's German Sweet Chocolate specifically, so that reinforces my idea that it might be the "original" recipe.

    It is really sweet of my mom to make my birthday cake every year. My family is big on birthdays -- cake, candles, presents, dinner, the works, with aunts, uncles, and cousins, even for grown-ups' birthdays. I grumble sometimes, but I know I should be grateful and savor it, because they won't be around forever.

    Last year I scheduled our trip to Disneyland to coincide with my 35th birthday so I didn't have to have a party, and my mom still made a GC cake before we left. (Mom and Dad came with us to Disneyland, though, so it wasn't like I was brushing them off entirely.)

  12. I will have to wait until Rose's new book comes out to really compare--but I would like that!

    I am big on birthdays too, so I would love it if my family did a huge throwdown for me every year...who am I kidding, I just love the attention ;)

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