Sunday, June 16, 2013


In 1957, a homemaker made history when she sent her recipe for a sweet chocolate cake covered with a rich, coconut-pecan frosting to a Dallas, Texas newspaper.  The cake uses a chocolate that was created by Samuel German, an employee of the Baker Company, in 1852 as a convenience item for home cooks because German mixed the sugar with the chocolate.  It took a century for his chocolate to come to fame with this typically Southern recipe that enjoys almost universal appeal.  Of course, millennial cooks have changed the original recipe to appeal to the modern palate.  Dark Chocolate ganache is usually found somewhere on the cake today because we have a taste for it now.

I adapted this recipe from The Kitchen is My Playground blog.  I was more specific with directions, as I feel baking is pretty much an exact science.  I used 1/4 tsp. salt instead of a pinch, unsalted butter, a bittersweet chocolate ganache instead of chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles and I cut the coconut topping to 1/3 the recipe.  Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly.  My taste testers and I went crazy over these cupcakes.  The cupcakes are very light, moist, sweet and just chocolatey enough, mimicking the difficult-to-make typical chocolate cake associated with this dessert -- but these cupcakes use a quick-mix method that is more baker friendly and harder to mess up.  The homemade cooked topping is very rich and absolutely divine, and the very easy bittersweet ganache balances out all the sweetness.  These make a truly memorable dessert, one that anyone would be proud to offer their guests.  Please do try these soon.  

German Chocolate Cupcakes with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache and Coconut Topping
Adapted from The Kitchen is My Playground
Rating:  10 out of 10

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.

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.

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.  

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.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


We recently converted our covered porch to a sunroom.  Because we added sunroom furniture, we lost space for one of our tables.  The table pictured above is 25" x 33", perfect for an entry, a plant stand, an eating/snack table, or a place to do paper work.  The chairs are not for sale.

We've invested considerable time and money in restoring the legs.  They're freshly painted, including gold paint for the Singer name.

The Singer trademark is also detailed beautifully in gold paint.

The durable granite is encased in wood for a nice custom effect.  The granite is very dark green which presents as more of a black color until you look carefully and see the green specks.

We're very sad to see this beauty go, but we just don't have room for it.  Our other table is currently in the garage awaiting restoration, and the one you see above, already restored, is the one we're selling for a very reasonable price of $169.00.  This item is too heavy to be shipped, so you have to live in or near New Bern, or be willing to travel to New Bern, to take advantage of this offer.  Please leave a comment  at the bottom of this post with your contact information if you are interested.