German Chocolate Cupcakes

german chocolate cupcakes

Believe it or not, there’s been a spate of cupcake places opening in…of all places—Paris.

I haven’t been in to any of them, but I should probably go at some point since I’m not sure if it’s just a fad that’s going to end soon, or something that might be here to stay. Parisians aren’t especially fond of cakes with thick layers of frosting or blue icing, and sugary roses don’t have quite the same nostalgic effect here as they do in America.

A lot of people come to Paris and ask me what they can bring. I’ve kind of had to stop mentioning things when I ramble on here, because if I casually mention that I would kill for a box of thin mints, every guest that comes to visit for the next three years arrives with a dozen boxes of thin mints. So please, don’t bring me any thin mints. Except those After Eight mints. As evidenced by the empty brown, envelope-style wrappers littering my apartment, I love those. (Oh, and I like Planter’s Peanut Blocks, too.)

Askinosie cocoa powder

Since I got in trouble recently for using…shall we say, a less-than nutritionally correct ingredient, on my last trip to San Francisco, folks will be happy to hear that I discovered fresh, wholesome pecans for sale at Costco.

Pecans (noix de pecan), like les cupcakes, have become hip in Paris over the last few years. But every time I buy a bag and open it, I find they’re rancid and I end up tossing them out. And I hate tossing out €15 bags of nuts.

evaporated milk/lait concentré mixing chocolate cupcake batter

So people have been bringing me pecans. And with my every-increasing stockpile of fresh, tasty pecans—and more, I hope, on their way, I made these German Chocolate Cupcakes from Lori Longbotham’s book, Luscious Coconut Desserts.

She actually calls them German Chocolate (Not) Cupcakes, because they’re named after Samuel German, who developed a sweet chocolate for a company. Not because there’s anything German, or even European, about them.

I used to work with a woman whose name I won’t mention, Jacquie, who didn’t like coconut and I could never understand how anyone couldn’t like something so tropically sweet, that was the perfect partner for dark chocolate. I can see people not liking things like black licorice or those the icky red peppers bits that people put in things that one has to carefully pick out and leave on the side of the plate. But a dessert made with coconut and dark, bittersweet chocolate? Sign me up.

2 yolks cupcake batter

I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen sweetened coconut flakes in Paris, so I used regular unsweetened coconut, which I find easily at the Sri Lankan markets up behind the gare du Nord. It was a good choice, because the frosting wasn’t too sweet. (Many French people feel that American desserts, and food in general, is too sweet.)

german chocolate cupcake

So you can use either. If you use unsweetened coconut and find the frosting isn’t sweet enough, stir in another teaspoon of brown sugar while it’s cooling. That’s what I ended up doing, and it was just right. And I wasn’t the only person to think so. So maybe cupcakes are here to stay. Although this batch had trouble sticking around for very long.

German Chocolate Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Makes 12
Adapted from Luscious Coconut Desserts (Chronicle) by Lori Longbotham Everyone loved these cupcakes who I handed them off to in Paris. Unlike sky-high American cakes, when I baked these, mine were more restrained in the height department, a bit sophisticated, with the sweetness kept in check. Hence their popularity. Lori advises not to use a high-percentage, fancy chocolate; so find one that has less than 60% cocoa solids. (Nowadays most packages give that information.) Also note that she uses natural cocoa. Since it’s a relatively small amount, I would imagine that you could give it a try with Dutch-process cocoa powder, although the natural cocoa gives it a slightly devilish red color.
For the cupcakes
2 ounces (60g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (60ml) boiling water or coffee
8 tablespoons (4 ounces, 115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (150g) cake flour not self-rising
1 tablespoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (125ml) buttermilk, at room temperature (see Note)
For the German chocolate frosting
3/4 cup (180ml) evaporated milk (whole milk)
1/4 cup (60g) packed light brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons (30g) butter, salted or unsalted, at room temperature
2 ounces (55g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups (110g) sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted
1 cup (125g) chopped, toasted pecans
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: Additional toasted coconut, for a garnish
For the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.
2. Pour the boiling water or coffee over the chocolate, and stir until melted. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add the egg yolks and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Then mix in the vanilla and the melted chocolate.
5. Whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in half of the dry ingredients, then add the buttermilk or sour cream, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until blended.
6. In a clean, dry bowl, whip the two egg whites until stiff, then fold one-third of them in to the chocolate batter, then the rest. Fold just into there are no streaks of white remaining, but don’t overfold.
7. Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake for about 25 minutes, until the batter feels just set in the center. Remove from the oven, then let cool for a few minutes.
Once cool enough to handle, remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin and let cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.
For the German chocolate frosting:
1. Whisk together the evaporated milk, brown sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a medium saucepan.
2. Add the butter, then cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula over medium heat, like a custard, until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spatula. Do not let boil.
3. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the chocolate, stirring gently until melted. Then stir in the coconut, pecans, and vanilla. (If using unsweetened coconut, you can add an additional teaspoon of brown sugar if it’s not sweet enough, to your taste.)
4. Let cool to room temperature, then use the frosting to ice the cupcakes, topping the cupcakes with a bit of toasted coconut as a garnish after you ice them, if you wish.

Note: For those of you who can’t get buttermilk, you can use a similar quantity of whole milk plain yogurt or sour cream, Or mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice with 1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk and let it sit 10 minutes.

Related Recipes and Posts

Devil’s Food Cake

Chocolate Biscotti

The Easiest Chocolate Ice Cream Ever

The Best Chocolate Sauce

Chocolate Sherbet

Chocolate Coconut Cake

German Chocolate Cake

Cocoa Powder FAQs

Chocolate FAQs

German Chocolate Cupcakes


  • February 24, 2010 12:48pm

    Be still my heart! A man making cupcakes – how glorious! :) We actually do not have many cupcake places around me, but I don’t live in a very trendy area.

  • February 24, 2010 12:48pm

    Love this blog and your style of writing. You keep me intrigued and I have to say I agree with the Europeans about American dessert and food in general being too sweet. Over the past few years I have definitely developed a more sophisticated palette and I do not like “sweets” as much. I am going to try these out!

  • February 24, 2010 12:49pm

    I’ve been to a couple of those cupcake places in Paris and I was less than impressed. The cake needed a lot more butter and the frosting wasn’t thick enough. I think they must have been trying to save money. All I know is that I won’t go back. My husband even threw away half of his. I think maybe cupcakes are an American thing but I wouldn’t mind being proved wrong.

  • February 24, 2010 12:52pm

    I subscribe to a little newsletter put out by the King Arthur flour company called “The Baking Sheet”. It’s a little treasure trove of baked goods, and the editing is fabulously done by a very talented New England pastry chef named Susan Reid who I ADORE. Your German chocolate cake is featured in the latest issue (it just arrived last night). Susan wrote, “It’s David Lebovitz’s, so it’s GOT to be good” (totally paraphrased since I don’t have it in front me — but something like that).

  • February 24, 2010 12:54pm

    those cupcakes look really edible

  • February 24, 2010 1:00pm

    And also, just for the record, I don’t understand why one much eschew sweet things in order to have a “sophisticated palate”. Seriously? I have a Master’s degree and a certificate in French pastry, neither of which guarantee a “sophisticated palate” obviously, because if I had a choice in matter drowning in a vat of Jet-Puffed marshmallow creme would not be a bad way to go.

  • February 24, 2010 1:12pm

    Linda: Interestingly, I had lunch with a friend who told me about one cupcake place on rue Rambuteau that has huge lines out the doors on weekends and didn’t understand why. Then he ordered a cupcake for dessert at the restaurant where we were eating!

    (I’ll report on that shortly…)

    Colleen: Thanks for the tip off. They’re a great company and am flattered they liked my cake so much. It’s not that liking or disliking sweets makes one sophisticated or not, it’s just that a lot of the food in the states is highly-sweetened. (Store-bought mayo, breads, soups, frozen dinners, and tomato sauces often have a sweetener added.)

    There’s plenty of pastries made with sugar in France, but they tend to be more buttery than heavily-sweet. Although sometimes they’re both.

    Jessica: Interesting that cupcakes are considered ‘trendy’. I suppose that’s true, but they’re such an old-fashioned American cake, I still have trouble thinking of them as branchée, or “plugged in”, as the French would say. (Which is the translation of “trendy”.)

  • Leaf
    February 24, 2010 1:15pm

    Hi David!

    Thanks again for your wonderful blog!

    As a Parisian, I’m always glad to learn things on my own city, on its inhabitants (including me!) and their bad habits. And, off course, your great recipes!

    I just wanted to tell you that if you’re looking for good AND cheap pecan nuts in Paris (along with spices, all kinds of nuts and numerous other great things), try the “passage Brady” in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, near metro Strasbourg-Saint-Denis.

    You’ll find there fresh products and half the price compared to any other place.

    But I bet you already know this place, right?


  • Dani
    February 24, 2010 1:15pm

    Weekend plans for me: either baking a Devil’s Food cake or these tasty looking cupcakes, using up the rest of my Valhrona cocoa! (Can you feel how hard you are twisting my arm??).

    I’ve tasted cupcakes at Le Moulin de la Vierge–they looked nice but tasted like styrofoam (well, what I imagine styrofoam would taste like). There’s definitely room for someone who knows how to make a proper cupcake to take the Paris market. Mabye we could have a Sprinkles in Paris!

  • February 24, 2010 1:19pm

    Gooey? Moist? Chocolate?? Yum! The frosting is especially interesting. I must say I am always on the look-out for alternate frostings (ie. other than standard icing sugar, butter and milk). Thank you!

  • Kamilah
    February 24, 2010 1:23pm

    while you’re on the subject of cupcakes, could you advise me on how to get a cupcake that bakes with a dome top to come out flat? would i raise or lower the oven temperature? thanks, Kamilah

  • February 24, 2010 1:49pm

    I wonder what cupcakes are called in Paris…”le cupcakes”? All kiddin’ aside, this is Berlin-decadent and I love it from the the crumb stuck on the paper cup to the frosting.

  • Sheila
    February 24, 2010 1:51pm

    Your cupcakes look so much yummier than those ones with the neon-pastel mile high frosting.
    I’m I the only one who gets sad when I see American trends catching on in Paris?

  • February 24, 2010 2:05pm

    Actually I can bet that you saw sweetened coconut flakes in paris, but probably you did not know that it was some :D. The Vahiné brand, in every supermarket, has two types of coconut flakes : the first one is the regular unsweetened type, the other one is called “Ti coco“, and is a mix between sugar and moist coconut flakes, for an announced “stronger flavor”.

  • February 24, 2010 2:20pm

    How did you know I’ve been craving German chocolate cake? Thank you for the frosting recipe! (My pecan supply is dwindling, but I think this is worth it.)

  • Sunny
    February 24, 2010 2:28pm

    Judging by the reaction of my son’s classmates to the cupcakes I sent in for his birthday, the word about cupcakes hasn’t quite reached all the corners of France yet.

    He said they each took one, then sat and looked at them, wondering exactly what to do with them. He had to show them how to peel the paper off.

    Some of them scraped off the American-style buttercream I put on (at his request) — but many of them thought it was pretty good stuff.

    Kids here like dark chocolate ganache as cake frosting (so do I!). Kids in France have amazingly sophisticated palates.

  • February 24, 2010 2:31pm

    Krysalia: I usually pass by the Vahiné aisle, because everything is so astronomically expensive. I can’t see paying €4.75 for 18 hazelnuts, or a bag with 50 grams of chocolate chips in it. But I will take a look for that coconut. Thanks~

    Leaf: I love that area and do buy a lot of nuts and spices there. But I think all the pecans (and most of the nuts) available in Paris are from a central supplier (those clear bags with the white strips down the side) and the pecans often look good, but even if I don’t open them for a few months, almost all the time, they get les champignon (mold) on them. I’ve stopped buying them, and stick with almonds!

    Kamilah: There’s an awesome recipe in my upcoming book for a chocolate cupcake that is not only domed, but cream-filled and dipped in dark chocolate.

    Sunny: I laughed out loud when I read the French kids scraped off the frosting!

    Dani: Well, at least the bread there is good : )

  • February 24, 2010 2:42pm

    I’ve long avoided coconut, mostly because of the texture, partly b/c of the taste. Neither worked for me. But, when a friend recently convinced me that adding coconut flakes to oatmeal is not only fun but tastes great, I’ve taken a liking to it. Now this recipe of yours. Thanks for reminding me that I have yet to re-experience coconut with bittersweet chocolate. May it snow this weekend so I have the perfect excuse to stay inside and bake these up. Thanks for sharing.

  • February 24, 2010 2:50pm

    I find unsweetened coconut to be superior in flavor to the sweetened variety. The sugar can mask the natural coconut flavor. If you can find the wide “ribbons” of dried coconut, it makes a lovely garnish on cakes and cupcakes.

    David, thank you for yesterday’s informative post on cocoa. I added a link to it on my blog, as it is such a good explanation of all things concerning cocoa.

  • February 24, 2010 2:58pm

    Kamilah, did you mean you preferred a flat top? If so, it’s best to be careful of over-mixing.

  • February 24, 2010 3:07pm

    Drat, I knew I should have stayed away from David-Land for a little while–I just sprained my ankle and can’t be on my feet long enough to bake anything! And now I will just lay here on the couch and whimper while I dream of chocolate and coconut and gooey and moist and cupcakes . . . .

  • February 24, 2010 3:15pm

    I just got all tremendously excited because I just arrived in Germany for the first time ever and, seeing the headline of your post, thought our stars had aligned. But I soon discovered such thinking was a fallacy. Hmph.

    Regardless, these look delicious, even though I’m also one of those people who isn’t enamoured with coconut…

  • Julia
    February 24, 2010 3:40pm

    Great recipe, as always. I have two questions regarding cupcakes, though. First, did you use American cake flour or French flour for these? If you used French flour, as I’m assuming you did, what number did you use? I’m in Germany and I find that our flour is very different from the American type, but pretty similar to French flour (plus, if worse comes to worse I can get French flour at the Galeries Lafayette).
    Second, have you made American buttercream with French butter? I used to make buttercream all the time in the States, but somehow the same recipe tastes horrible when I use German butter. Any thoughts on this?

  • Susan
    February 24, 2010 3:42pm

    Parisians haven’t tasted sweet until they’ve tasted the frosting on a German’s chocolate cake. For me, it’s the sweetest soft frosting that exists and the one I like least..and I love sweet stuff. I cannot reconcile my tastebuds to brown sugar, pecans and coconut combined; it actually makes me queasy. TMI? Sorry.

    I love coconut and I love dark chocolate…so just give me a Mounds Bar and I’m a happy woman.

  • berit
    February 24, 2010 4:08pm

    Oh and here I thought you’d mention the cupcake place in Berlin, which an American lady opened. I think it’s two actually now, but here’s a link to the one I visit every time I am in town

    It’s a tiny place, but since she bakes all the cupcakes herself, it’s always full!

  • February 24, 2010 4:21pm

    I am going to have to make these cupcakes soon, but I might end up eating them all since my husband doesn’t like coconut. How can you not like coconut? OH well, more for me :)

  • Lena
    February 24, 2010 4:21pm

    A bit off the topic, but talking about After Eight: I just made your wonderful Chocolate Sherbet today (not for the first time I must confess) and instead of using just normal bittersweet chocolate I added some After Eight as well. It worked quite well! I really love your ice recipes, because they are perfect from the start, but they are also inspiring and make me want to experiment with all kinds of things! Thanks!

  • Karen
    February 24, 2010 4:40pm

    Hi David, Thanks so much for your great blog. I just finished The Sweet Life in Paris (I know I’m behind the times a bit) and loved every word. These cupcakes look scrumptious, but I have to say that I just made your Le Cake with Goat Cheese and Olives, and it’s so good that it will be VERY hard for me not to polish off the whole thing before I plan to serve it tonight with dinner. And I’m looking forward to making the chocolate and toffee covered matzoh in a few weeks. A question (or 2)…have your ever used that horrible kosher for Passover chocolate with any success? Or should I just cheat and use something really great?

  • February 24, 2010 4:48pm

    You won’t mind if I help myself to one of those cupcakes will you? The one’s in my hands are for my friends…

  • February 24, 2010 5:28pm

    I had the same problem here with rancid pecans, but I bought a kilo at G. Détou, and they were remarkably fresh. In fact, I bought them right before Christmas and they still taste good! And thank you for writing about G. Détou; I learned of that shop through your blog.

  • February 24, 2010 5:42pm

    After reading your post I’m a bit ashamed of admitting that I hate coconut. The cupcakes look delicious though, so I’ll bake them soon sans frosting.

  • February 24, 2010 6:13pm

    I cannot and will not ever get enough of coconut.
    Love these! Please make more cupcakes—I love to see what you come up with.

  • February 24, 2010 6:52pm

    On our recent trip to Paris (our first…but not last!), we were amazed at the desserts! We never realized how much we DID NOT taste the ingredients in our American desserts….we were only tasting the sugar. I prefer the French desserts…less sugar, I’m in!

  • deidre
    February 24, 2010 7:11pm

    Your book, The Perfect Scoop is brilliant…. It has the best chocolate sorbet imaginable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No Fat and totally satisfying….. YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and the Pear, Caramel, and Ginger ice cream makes me cry.

    Is it possible to hire you to meet with a travel study tour of students from the states? If you just don’t do such a thing… I fully understand… But just in case you do…………
    I am bringing 18 students from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago to Paris in June 2010. They are all art and fashion students. I am a fashion/costume designer, though my true passion is chocolate and French Pastry and I was trained as a Pasty Chef.
    We are going to all of the obligatory halls of ART and FAshion and meeting with several top French fashion designers and artists; but for me Paris is all about the food. I have been showing slides of various French pastries along with photos from the D’Orsay, the Louvre, Pompidou, and Versailles as part of my presentation to get students to sign up for the trip; intermingled with the caramel de sel macaroons from Pierre Herme, palmiers with pistachio paste and tiny chocolate chips they sell at a patisserie across from St. Paul metro, the tarts at Ladurée, etc. We will definitely go to A l’Etoile d’Or for caramels and chocolate based on your review, but if you are in Paris in June 2010 we would love to book you for a small talk on Paris food. If not perhaps next year….

  • Laurie
    February 24, 2010 7:22pm


    A comment on the “sweet” factor. I think one of the reasons American sweets taste so sweet is the ingredients. Most factory-made desserts (and there are a lot of them) contain high fructose corn syrup and other heavily processed sugar products – many times sweeter than cane sugar.

    I agree with your comment about more butter and less sugar in European sweets. Just look at Italian buttercream. I have had to slowly work my family into enjoying it because it is much less sweet (and much more buttery) than American butter cream.

    Once you are used to very sweet sweets, it’s tough to make the adjustment.

    Even more reason to include savory desserts in your repertoire.

  • February 24, 2010 7:24pm

    David, I’ve been reading your blog for the last few months and finally felt the need to tell you how much I enjoy your writing style and recipes (and sarcasm). I spent a semester in Paris seven years ago and your blog and The Sweet Life in Paris (which I loved) help me remember the joys and frustrations of living in the City of Light.

    About this post, which I will be trying this weekend if not sooner, do you prefer using coffee or water in the cupcake batter? I typically love coffee in my chocolate desserts, but I am curious what you used since you got such rave reviews.

    And in case I have not gushed enough, I thought I’d tell you that I love your French green lentil salad recipe so much I make it just about every other week. (And your cheesecake brownies – though I try to refrain from making those quite so often.)

  • june2
    February 24, 2010 8:05pm

    : ) All I can say is: ooo aaahhh, lol… yum.

  • February 24, 2010 9:04pm

    A way to keep nuts fresh is to boil them in water, drain then toast to dryness. they keep in the fridge that way and never get rancid as the oil has been removed. The nut flavor is really crisp and intense this way.

  • February 24, 2010 9:17pm

    If there’s coconut and chocolate in a dessert, you can sign us up too. :)
    We also find that American desserts tend to be too sweet, so if I’m using an American recipe, I always cut back on the sugar.

    I would love to try these cupcakes, and have a couple of questions.
    When you say unsweetened coconut flakes, do you mean dessicated coconut? I live in a place where fresh coconuts are a plenty, so do you think I could use fresh coconut?

    I don’t get evaporated milk here. Do you think I could use sweetened condensed milk and leave the sugar out for the frosting?


  • Michelle
    February 24, 2010 9:45pm

    David, can’t wait to make those cupcakes..hopefully this weekend. After Eights…what can you about them, just so addictive. I have developed a recipe for After Eight shortbread, I’ll email it to you.
    Love your recipes, can’t wait for your new book.

  • February 24, 2010 11:22pm

    I absolutely adore German Chocolate Cake and have been looking around for the right recipe to spend my last remaining pecans and coconut flake on. The cake looks excellent but I’m unsure about the chocolate in the filling/topping/icing. Primarily aesthetically, though. These may find themselves in my oven sooner than later.

  • Patti
    February 24, 2010 11:33pm

    I’m with you on the sweetness of frosting, the cupcake places usually make it so sweet your teeth hurt after you take a bite. Yuck! And then when you scrape off most of the frosting so that you can taste the cake you find that the cake doesn’t have much flavor to start with. I am not a fan of these places, I would prefer to make my own cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting – now that’s some good stuff! I will give your recipe a try David, they look great. And as usual, I love your photographs.

  • Kathleen
    February 24, 2010 11:38pm

    Coconut was definitely an acquired taste for me – I was a pretty picky eater as a child anyway, but was especially disgusted by coconut. This was probably the fault of the low-quality dried flakes it was always manufactured in, in my world far from any coconut trees, as well as a big bottle of coconut-scented lotion my mum had. A more mature palate and the discovery of Thai coconut milk curries (oh, and maybe that coconut Bacardi my mum kept in the freezer) put me on the path to coconut mania.

    I’d love to try these but haven’t been doing much baking – my dad is gluten free, and while I’m happy to experiment with sorghum and teff and xanthan gum, he doesn’t want to shell out for new flours since he doesn’t cook at all. Sigh. I have gotten a chance to try some of your savoury recipes…your tagine recipe from The Sweet Life in Paris is a favourite around here, I just made it this afternoon!

    I was SO glad that you visited Katia and Kyliemac. I adore their podcast and couldn’t believe that two of my Paris-expat web obsessions were joining forces! It was great to hear you on the shows this week.

  • February 25, 2010 12:42am

    Cupcakes have been slowly taking over the world for a little over a year now. I’m biding my time and waiting for the Tarte au citron revolution.

  • Kirst
    February 25, 2010 1:20am

    The cupcake place on Rue Rambuteau is called Berko. It also does cheesecake (which I’ve never tried) but the cupcakes are fantastic! I am not American though, so am possibly grading with a small amount of ignorance on the subject.
    Not only are there tonnes of flavours, they also do mini-cupcakes so instead of having to lump for one flavour and hope for a goodie, you can buy an assortment of six. Of course if you’re me, that then begins the saga of putting them onto a plate before your husband arrives home from work so that he can view the yummy assortment you got from Berko which he now believes come in groups of four :)

  • February 25, 2010 1:49am

    deidre: Due to other committments, I only do week-long tours once or twice a year (listed on my Tours page), but good luck with your trip!

    Julia: I use Type 65 flour here in France. I’ve not made buttercream here using an American, so don’t know how the butter behaves, but you can read more about what ingredients I use at .

    Kathleen: I love them too–we had a great time chatting…and I was happy to reward them with cupcakes~

    Aparna: Yes, I believe what I use here is called desiccated coconut in certain parts of the world. I linked to an article that says not to swap out the milks for each other, as they’re not the same thing. But I think you could use heavy cream or half-and-half in place of the evaporated milk. If you do, let us know how it works out.

    Katie: I usually prefer coffee since it augments the chocolate flavor. But since some people don’t drink coffee, or are baking for their kids, water (which the original recipe uses) is fine. And thanks for your kind words–glad you like the book!

    Karen: I’ve not used most kosher chocolates, but Scharffen Berger chocolate is kosher, and that’s got a nice flavor. Glad you’re enjoying the book as well…and the cake. Reminds me that I need to make it again, too.

    Lena: That’s a great idea : )

  • Kirsten
    February 25, 2010 2:00am

    I do always feel that it’s a bit of an overgeneralization that Americans love overly sweet desserts. I’ve always thought that it was the south that really tilted heavily towards sweet and super gooey sugary, while that isn’t as prevalent in other areas. Am I wrong on this? It’s a big country and not everything is the same everywhere.

    P.S. I love coconut (and love just reading this recipe!), but the people I know who can’t stand it have texture issues more than flavor. Texture is just as big a factor as flavor when it comes to food likes and dislikes, I would say.

  • February 25, 2010 2:10am

    Kirsten: I know what you mean. I have Americans constantly asking me things like, “Aren’t the French rude?” and “I hear the French don’t like Americans.”

    And French people are always asking me things like, “Don’t all Americans eat at McDonald’s?” and “I hear everyone carries a gun in America. Is that true?”

    For some reason, I’m always caught in the middle of the two cultures. Perhaps I need to start a bulletin board on the site, and let folks hash it out for themselves.

    Now if I could only find someone willing to moderate that…!

  • Mark
    February 25, 2010 2:24am

    These look delicious. In my opinion dark chocolate is definately the best type of chocolate. And cherries are the perfect companion. I recently got into making cupcakes so I might just try these ones.

  • February 25, 2010 3:25am

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the cupcake post! You do know After Eights are available in the candy aisle of most Monoprix and Franprix?

    Anytime you are game, I’d love to bake you a batch of cupcakes. I don’t have a store yet but do have a hearty clientele of both French and expat cupcake lovers for the custom cupcakes I bake up over here in the 17th. (And I make a mean After Eight cupcake!).

    As for the recent spate of cupcakeries, it shows no sign of relenting. I can think of 3 more cupcake shops that are set to open in the next few months. Every person that contacts me to write a story about this attributes the fad to SJP eating a Magnolia Bakery cupcake in an episode of Sex & the City though I am not sure why this has made them hot. Except to say that so many French people romanticize NYC.

    X Cat

  • February 25, 2010 3:25am

    Those cupcakes look like they should be illegal!

  • February 25, 2010 4:09am

    Hey David,

    you can avoid the problem with the rancid pecans (or other nuts)…. just throw them in freezer. I do it always with mine. It doesn’t stop them from getting rancid, but it slooooows. And if you do not store them there for years, well there shouldn’t be any problems. Ok, besides limited space in the freezer…

  • Cynthia Alexandra Stevenson
    February 25, 2010 6:27am

    I’m a real sucker for chocolate! I had this dessert once, in a vacation travel to Barcelona, Spain. We had a wonderful meal at , in which we got a very similar chocolate cupcakes as dessert. I recommend it to everyone who knows how to enjoy a delicious chocolate meal ^__^

    Nice blog btw! Thanks for the recipe, can’t wait to try :D

  • Sandra
    February 25, 2010 6:40am

    I think that cupcakes popularity have risen ( even Martha Stewart did a book on them alone!) because of their size and just uniqueness. We can get a quick fix portion and not have to worry about who is getting an equal share or not, because it’s pre-determined. They are just fun all-around, as a reminder of when we were kids and want to get that back as some sort of grown-up nostaglia. Of course, I will have to file this recipe and save it for a while, lest I ruin fitting into a dress for my daughter’s wedding in early July. ( And sadly, having little appetite from a recent health issue doesn’t help matters, when there are such luscious creations pictured in front of me!)

  • pepovst
    February 25, 2010 9:01am

    I am rushing through chores while my little boy naps, so will save reading through (and no doubt chuckling over) the blog later – that will be a good pick-me-up when I need it at the end of the day!
    I have a question unrelated to this blog, but hope that does not matter (I am new to the blogging business): I have the juice of 12 grapefruits (hand squeezed, no less) that I would like to turn into sorbet. To keep it as best as possible while I hunt for a recipe I have frozen it. I could just add the sugar water and be done with it, but I am tantalised by references to grapefruit+anise / grapefruit+champagne on your site – I just cannot find the recipes… (again, may be as I am new to this kind of site). I have a saccharometer/syrup hydrometer, so know about the levels of sugar I need for the sorbet to work. Would love to know how to make those – any further ideas also gratefully received :-)

    All the recipes on the site are categorized on the Recipes page, or you can use the search engine up above. There’s a few recipes for grapefruit sorbet and granita in my book, The Perfect Scoop, including ones for Pink Grapefruit–Champagne and Raspberry-Champagne sorbet. I’m not a fan of anise all the much, I’m afraid (except with chocolate!) -dl

  • February 25, 2010 9:08am

    If you like coconut, you would be happy to know I’ve ambushed my pink lemonade cupcakes with coconut-tangerine frosting. And I’m hoping the cupcake craze doesn’t end soon in Paris! Why would we ever want them to go away, these delicious little cakes!!?

  • February 25, 2010 9:08am

    Ok, I have to admit that I’m not a huge coconut fan but I have recently begun trying out recipes with it in and am slowly converting. So much so that I can’t wait to try this recipe out! Thanks.

  • February 25, 2010 9:17am

    I never knew that there is a German Chokolat Cupcake. looks delicious thoug!

  • February 25, 2010 10:17am

    I’ll agree with American recipes often seeming sweet- I almost invariably cut about a third of the sugar in a dessert/cookie recipe… and do invariably double, even triple the spices. For some reason, I (and the Swiss and French I cook for!) always seem to find American recipes woefully underspiced. I sometimes make the Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies from the Joy of Cooking, and that’s one where I at least have to double the spices for them to have any impact at all on the flavour. And yes, I do cook enough for my spice drawer to have a regular turn-over and things to be fresh.

  • Rachel
    February 25, 2010 10:40am

    On the subject of the chocolate/coconut combination, can I suggest an Australian icon – the lamington. It’s a square of sponge cake, with chocolate icing and then coated in coconut. In Australia they’re quite big (maybe 7cm square) and made with a light sponge. I make what I call a french version that the kids take to school each Australia Day. Buy a Breton quatre quatre cake, cut into 2-3cm squares, mix cocoa, icing sugar and water until the consistency of thin cream, roll the cake in icing until completely covered, then roll in shredded or dessicated coconut. Voila mate.

    Thanks for the blog David, I love it.

  • February 25, 2010 11:48am

    Blimey David – how on earth do you manage to get your batter into your muffin cups so cleanly? Mine always look like the mix has been sprayed in from a distance by a short-sighted fireman with a wonky hose…

  • February 25, 2010 12:17pm

    I’m with you. The coconut – bittersweet chocolate combo is a perfect match. Coconut, however, is something no one else in this house will touch. That I will never understand.

  • February 25, 2010 1:07pm

    Last year in Weinstadt Germany a cupcake shop opened. Unfortunately their website is still under construction. They have a facebook page.

    Not Heidi,

    Funny enough a lot of Americans (okay majority of the people I know and I run into) do the exact same thing. We tend to reduce the sugar and double the spices, and I have scribbled a lot in my cookbooks denoting that, but then there are Americans who like it sweet, and with less spices. I guess it depends on where and how you grew up, and what “tastes” right.

  • Sunny
    February 25, 2010 4:09pm

    I agree entirely on the sugar — as I get older, I like the gooey-sweet stuff less and less.

    But it’s interesting about the spices — when I make an apple pie here in France, I add the usual cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves that have always constituted a “typical” American apple pie — my French friends love it, but they always exclaim at how spicy it tastes! The gingersnaps I gave as gifts at Christmas were the same way — raved about, but lots of marveling at the level of spice — and I typically find that most sweet things here (aside from a true German lebkuchen/printen, which will take your breath away) are much *less* spiced than their American counterparts..?

  • Karen
    February 25, 2010 6:47pm

    Thanks David for your reply…and I know that Scharffen Berger is wonderful (and kosher), and easily available to me here just in the burbs of Chicago…I was referring to the oh-so-horrible chocolate like the Elite brand, that’s under special supervision just for Passover. But I’ll give it a try anyway. And le cake is just about gone, I’m going to make another for a dinner party Sat night. ;)

  • Lisa
    February 26, 2010 12:41am

    i would love to take a big bite out of that cupcake! totally yum!

  • February 26, 2010 3:31am

    Hi David…

    I’ve been reading your blog for several years now and I’m friends of K&K! It was so nice to hear your on their podcast!! Great job! I live down in Antony and I’m yet to find a good cupcake in Paris… I make them myself… and they’re much better!
    Your cupcakes look D-lish!! I also do the same thing as you — I give out my baked goods to merchants in my town…. and also to merchants up in Paris, too!! Needless to say… I’ve made PLENTY of friends!!!! : )
    Take care and can’t wait to get your new book!

    Take care,

  • Sharon
    February 26, 2010 3:03pm

    As a recently unemployed cook I have started reading food blogs for inspiration. I don’t do too much baking because I live at high altitude and fussing with the adjustments on the recipes don’t really flip my beanie. I decided to try your cupcakes an am pleasantly surprised. Aside from a slight sugary crust (I need to reduce the sugar a bit) and some spreading of the top they are great (I probably need to whip my egg whites less). They are incredibly fragile and I wonder if that means another adjustment? Do you know anything about high altitude baking? At any rate, they are delicious and the batter was gorgeous. Thanks!

  • February 27, 2010 4:04am

    Oh dear, I now have another dessert recipe to add to my list of things I want to make. I don’t have a big sweet tooth, but I love German chocolate cake and these cupcakes are making me swoon! My hips will not thank you, but oh my tastebuds will!

  • February 27, 2010 4:30am

    Sharon: I’m not too familiar with high-altitude adjustments, but I recommend very highly Chocolate Snowball by Letty Flatt, who is the pastry chef at Deer Valley in Utah, as all her desserts have been formulated to work at high altitude.

    Leesa: They were a lot of fun, and glad you enjoyed the interview(s) as much as we did!

    Sunny: I agree. Since moving to France, I’ve drastically reduced the amount of spices I put in things. I’ve come to appreciate less cinnamon in things, for example.

    DianasaurDishes: I’ve seen those hips in action, dancing around the pool (in Ixtapa).

    And it would take more than a couple of cupcakes to make them stop swooning ; )

  • February 27, 2010 8:10pm

    Wow…this is fabulous.A man making this wonderful cupcakes is incredible.I loved your blog:)

  • KayAar
    February 27, 2010 8:43pm

    I tried these last night and they were gone in no time. I didnt even get a chance to click pictures. These were super-delicious .Thank you so much !

  • February 28, 2010 8:58am

    Chocolate, coconut & pecans…of course! Excellent combo, especially in a frosted cup cake. Never had a thing for coconut until recently. Now I fantasize about the stuff. Digging unrefined coconut butter (they make one with cacao nibs and goji berries) It is so blissful as an oatmeal topper. As always, you are a great inspiraton :)

  • Katie
    February 28, 2010 7:17pm

    Berko, the place on Rambuteau! I’ve seen the lines. Delicious. I went for lunch on a thursday around 1pm and they were already out of soup and salad. Quiche was delicious, I recommend the salmon and spinach. So many cupcakes! Carrot cake frosting was to die for, but the cupcake wasn’t very carott-cake-y. Peanut butter? Filled with peanut butter was just what a peanut butter lover in France needs. Big and tiny little versions. Cheese cakes. Little tarts.

  • March 1, 2010 1:47am

    Katie: I haven’t been, but have heard about those lines! I did try a couple of carrot cakes this weekend at other places in the Marais. One place that is famous for their carrot cake…well, it didn’t live up to its reputation. (And was expensive, to boot.)

    But we did go to another place, called Cococook, which was incredibly charming, and had a nice slab of carrot cake with a very unusual frosting-which wasn’t exactly cream cheese, but was mousse-like and really good.

  • March 1, 2010 10:19am

    But every time I buy a bag and open it, I find they’re rancid and I end up tossing them out.

    Am I to take it that it is not the custom to return food items that are rancid or otherwise unsatisfactory upon purchase? Because I am utterly shameless about that sort of thing here. On the rare occasion that something is already bad when I buy it, I take it back. I work too hard for my money.

  • March 1, 2010 5:08pm

    My oh my, these look superb!!

  • Sharon
    March 3, 2010 10:34am

    David, Thanks so much for the recommendation of Chocolate Snowball. It is out of print, but I managed to find a used copy online. I anxiously await its arrival so I try out her recipes and learn more about high altitude adjustments.
    Thanks again!


  • March 3, 2010 6:18pm

    Oh, doesn’t that frosting look so much more sophisticated than the usual “can of evap, some eggs, lots of sugar, milk, coconut and pecans.”

    Don’t get me wrong. I love me some of the typical coconut pecan frosting for chocolate cake, but I think you’ve taken it to a new level here. And I’m really looking forward to trying it!

  • March 4, 2010 10:46am

    I’m blushing! You’re probably right though, bring on the cupcakes!

  • Anne
    March 6, 2010 3:40am

    Does anyone know whether the cocoa in Australia is Dutched or natural? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t say on the packet. :(

    Anne. :)

  • Anne
    March 6, 2010 3:43am

    Btw, the brand I have is called Bournville Cocoa.

    Thanks again,

  • March 6, 2010 2:52pm

    These look fabulous. I have a friend who loves german chocolate cake–I might have to try to get these together for her birthday!

  • March 9, 2010 12:01pm

    Your blog and recipes are just wonderful David! Can’t wait to try these out :)

  • March 16, 2010 1:39pm

    Ha, cupcake shops opening in Paris? I was quite surprised by Macarons being on every corner, but what shocked me the most was stumbling across Macarons inside a McCafe!!! Not that I go to such a place, but it caught my eye! How weird! Is the Macaron the Paris version of a cupcake? What will happen to it now that cupcakes are invading???

  • March 28, 2010 6:06pm

    this is the 2nd recipe I have tried from your list and for the second time my baking was given a thumbs up. thanks for sharing this to a novice like me…

  • June 25, 2010 1:43pm

    David, I have made these cupcakes quite a few times now (adapted them a bit to suit our tastes and availability of ingredients), and they’re a hit everytime.

    As suggested by you, I went ahead and used 25% cream instead of the evaporated milk in the frosting and it worked just fine.
    Got the bit about dessicated coconut, and I think fresh grated coconut would be quite good too.

    I also frosted one set of these cupcakes with chocolate mascarpone mousse and they were fantastic.
    I have blogged about them and you might like to see them at


  • Deborah Croll
    August 12, 2010 3:36pm

    Hi David, I own your book Room For Dessert and love it and have used many recipes when I was baking desserts for a restaurant in Lambertville, N.J. I do have a question on the peanut butter cookie recipe. I have tried it several times and each time the cookies remain basically the size they are after marking them with a fork and don’t spread as usual most peanut butter cookie recipes. Is this the result YOU get, or am I doing something incorrectly.
    By the way, the gingersnaps are delicious!
    Thanks for an answer to my question if you have time.

  • August 12, 2010 4:11pm

    Hi Deborah: Here’s a picture of my Peanut Butter Cookies from the updated version of the book, Ready for Dessert, which is close to the same recipe in my first book.

  • LesBailey
    December 9, 2010 10:50pm

    These are wonderful~! Thank you! Made them for my Husband’s 50th birthday. We’re building, so all my cake & cupcake pans are in storage, except for the mini-muffin tin. This recipe made delightfully light, gently sweet mini-cakes, onto which I piled that crazy topping. They’re cute – look like toddlers wearing their Mother’s hats with crazy hair. A heavy topping for mini-cakes – or perhaps I cooked it a bit much – either way this is an excellent recipe, and I’m more of a cook & less of a Baker. Thanks!

  • lauramich
    January 23, 2011 6:27pm

    Long story short: I made this German chocolate frosting and spread it on brownies. It was awesome. You have gone from being merely my ice cream god to my dessert god.

    Long story: My parents were friends for a long time with another couple, S and B. My mother died back in May 2009, but S and B have maintained their friendship with Dad. Since I live 100 miles away from Dad, I rest better at night knowing that he has local friends looking after him. His own health is not great, and B has come out to snow-blow his driveway during recent snows. We all got together this past weekend, and I wanted to make a special dessert to thank S and B — but especially B — for their kindness and friendship to my Dad. B is a notoriously picky eater, but it turned out that one thing he does like is German chocolate. Dilemma — both Dad and my husband despise coconut! How to please everyone? I went with brownies, half with peanut butter cream cheese frosting and half with your German chocolate frosting. B ate his brownie with relish, and S pronounced it the best German chocolate frosting she’d ever had. I’m normally take-it-or-leave it about coconut myself, but I loved this as well. I think that my husband might even like an adapted version without the coconuts and pecans, just as a milk chocolate frosting. (Dad is a dark chocolate kind of guy.)

    So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for providing this recipe so that I could make a special dessert for special people.


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