My dad loves German chocolate cake. It’s his fave.

So I’ve been studying recipes (I have stacks of library cookbooks I check out again and again) so I could make him some from scratch.

I now have a batch for him to try tomorrow.

I’m thinking — yes. These are them.

The Ones.

First, I tasted the caramel coconut-pecan frosting — delicious. Much richer and more flavorful than the store-bought stuff.

Second, the cake — awesomely good.

The cupcakes have a tender, soft crumb, are nice and chocolatey, and make for a great froster.

It’s not as rich as the ganache-filled ultimate chocolate cupcakes, which are so over-the-top chocolate-rich (in a good way) that I cannot find a suitable frosting.

These right here are yummy, soft, simple and cheap to make — nothing more costly than Hershey’s cocoa powder and a little oil.

Oh yeah baby.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Coconut-Pecan Frosting

adapted from “Baking Unplugged,” by Nicole Rees (cake) and  “Buttercup Bakes at Home,” by Jennifer Appel (frosting)

makes about 10 to 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup warm coffee or warm water (I used coffee)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners or spray well with vegetable spray.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In large bowl, beat together sugar, oil and egg until thick and pale, about two minutes with a handmixer. Beat in vanilla.

With mixer on low, or with whisk, mix in the flour mixture and coffee (or warm water) alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for about 16 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted into center comes out with only a few crumbs attached.

Allow cupcakes to cool in pan on wire rack for about 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pan and allow them to cool completely on wire rack.

Frost with caramel coconut-pecan frosting. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

For the frosting:

  • 9 ounces evaporated milk (I used almost two 5 oz. cans)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (I used walnuts)

In medium saucepan, whisk together the evaporated milk and egg yolks. Add sugar, butter and vanilla to the pot and stir. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will bubble, thicken and darken slightly.

When thick and bubbling, remove from heat. Stir in coconut and chopped nuts. Pour into a big bowl and cool to room temperature. I popped mine into the refrigerator for about 45 minutes, stirring once in a while, to speed the cooling process up.

Note: This makes about a 1/2 cup extra frosting. I’m probably going to eat it, save it, make more cupcakes. I can’t throw mine away.