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German Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

German Chocolate Cupcakes. Easy homemade dulce de leche combines with shredded coconut, pecans, and chocolate cupcakes for a fun and classic dessert recipe! 

German Chocolate Cupcakes on a Plate

This recipe was originally published June 18, 2012. It has since been updated to include clearer instructions and new photos. 

This is on the top of my top cupcake recipes. My husband lives for coconut and caramel, so of course this is our go-to around his birthday. 

A moist chocolate cake is topped with the combination of homemade gooey caramel and toasted coconut and pecans. It is a salty sweet combination that pairs SO well together. 

Side note, this is my favorite chocolate cupcake. If you only make one thing from this recipe, let it be the cake. Or the caramel. It is ridiculously easy and SO GOOD.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

All of the magic starts with a great chocolate cake. Typically I reach for my absolute favorite chocolate cake recipe, but in this case we want something a little different. Since we will be pairing the cupcakes with a creamy dulce de leche style topping we need a more hearty cake recipe.

Dutch cocoa adds a rich flavor to the cake that is the flavor pairing we are looking for. Whisk away, bake, and get ready for the best part of the dish. THE TOPPING!

How to make caramel with canned sweetened condensed milk:

  1. Remove the labels of your can.
  2. Place the can on its side in a large pot.
  3. Cover completely with water.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Simmer until cooked (see recipe).
  6. Cool completely.

TIP: I want to stress this – you absolutely have to keep the cans completely submerged in water while cooking. It is 100% ok to add more water if you notice it is getting a little low.

Follow the recipe and you will have the most amazing (and easy) Dulce De Leche!

Homemade Caramel

German Chocolate Cake Ingredients:

  • All-Purpose Flour- Regular ol’ white flour. This can be found in the baking aisle of your local grocer.
  • Cocoa Powder- Dutch cocoa is my go-to. It adds a depth to the cake that is unbeatable. However, you could substitute this with regular baking cocoa with equally delicious results. 
  • Baking soda and Salt- Baking soda is the leavening agent that gives your cake that delightful puff. Salt is a flavor enhancer that gives it just  a little boost. 
  • Butter- I always use salted butter, because that is what we normally have on hand. Unsalted would do just fine. 
  • Granulated Sugar- White sugar.
  • German Chocolate- You can find German chocolate in the baking aisle. However, if you are unable to locate this varieity you can substitute with a regular  Hershey’s milk chocolate bar (1 oz). 
  • Eggs- Large eggs at room temperature. 
  • Oil- I have used vegetable oil and coconut oil with yummy results. 
  • Vanilla Extract- Pure vanilla extract!! Avoid anything imitation.
  • Sour Cream- No sour cream? Swap with Greek yogurt. Although, sour cream gives it a slight tang that cannot be beat. 
  • Water (or coffee)- your choice. Coffee only enhances the chocolate flavor. 
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk- This is the caramel sauce secret ingredient
  • Coconut and Pecans

How to toast coconut:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment or silicone baking mat.
  3. Spread your coconut flakes in an even layer on your baking tray.
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring your coconut every 2 minutes. 
  5. Remove from the oven when desired coloring is achieved, we like a lighter brown with small bits of white, but also enjoy a darker brown.

How to make German chocolate cake from scratch: 

For the topping:

1. Remove the labels from the can of sweetened milk. Place the can on its side in a large pot. Cover completely with water. 

2. Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for two hours. BE SURE that the can stays completely submerged in water the entire cooking time. Add more water if necessary.

3. Leave your cans in the hot water and allow to cool completely.

4. Toss the coconut and pecans in a medium sized bowl. 

5. Once your cans have cooled, remove from the water and carefully open. Stir into the coconut mixture. 

6. Spoon over your cooled cupcakes. 

For the cupcakes:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.

3. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

4. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with the paddle attachment at medium speed until incorporated.

5. Stir in the melted 2 oz German chocolate. Mix until it is smooth. Add the eggs and egg yolks followed by the oil and vanilla.

6. Fold in the dry ingredients followed by the sour cream and water.

7. Divide the dough into your prepared liners, filling 3/4 full. Bake 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

8. Cool and top with the caramel mixture.

What is German chocolate cake?

German chocolate cake, believe it or not, is actually an american made dessert. It traditionally is served with chocolate cake layers that are filled with a caramel coconut and pecan filling. No frosting is used. 

Cupcake Baking Tips:

  1. Be sure you use quality ingredients. Do not skimp on the vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract (always use pure NOT imitation), and BUTTER. Flour, baking soda and powder are always ok as “off brand.”
  2. It is so important that you use room temperature ingredients. This ensures even mixing and a perfect batter.
  3. Do not over mix your batter. I like to keep my mixer on low/medium speed. This keeps the butter from overheating and the ingredients incorporate evenly.
  4. Use a scoop for even cupcake sizes. This isn’t necessary but does make it super simple to keep your cupcakes even.

More Cupcake Recipes:

More Coconut Recipes:

German Chocolate Cupcakes

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 18 cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Caramel: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 33 minutes

German Chocolate Cupcakes. Easy homemade dulce de leche combines with shredded coconut, pecans, and chocolate cupcakes for a fun and classic dessert recipe! 

Ingredients

For the topping

  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa Dutch cocoa powder*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 oz German chocolate, melted*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup coffee or water

Instructions

For the topping:

1. Remove the labels from the can of sweetened milk. Place the can on its side in a large pot. Cover completely with water. 

2. Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for two hours. BE SURE that the can stays completely submerged in water the entire cooking time. Add more water if necessary.

3. Leave your cans in the hot water and allow to cool completely.

4. Toss the coconut and pecans in a medium sized bowl. 

5. Once your cans have cooled, remove from the water and carefully open. Stir into the coconut mixture. 

6. Spoon over your cooled cupcakes. 


For the cupcakes:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.

3. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

4. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with the paddle attachment at medium speed until incorporated.

5. Stir in the melted 2 oz German chocolate. Mix until it is smooth. Add the eggs and egg yolks followed by the oil and vanilla.

6. Fold in the dry ingredients followed by the sour cream and water.

7. Divide the dough into your prepared liners, filling 3/4 full. Bake 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

8. Cool and top with the caramel mixture.

Notes

If you cannot find German chocolate, you can substitute with any milk chocolate variety. We often use a Hershey's bar.

It is VERY important that you make sure you keep the cans of sweetened condensed milk completely submerged in water while cooking. Allowing any part of the can to be exposed could result in the can erupting and potentially harming you or your kitchen. It is completely ok to add water as needed.

Allow the cans to cool completely before opening.

Be safe and enjoy! 

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German Chocolate Cupcakes. Easy homemade dulce de leche combines with shredded coconut, pecans, and chocolate cupcakes for a fun and classic dessert recipe!

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