Amazing German Chocolate Cupcakes Are a Must-Try

Amazing German Chocolate Cupcakes Are a Must-Try

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We can’t talk about German Chocolate Cupcakes without first talking about German chocolate! Why do they call it German chocolate? Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t because the chocolate was made in Germany. Even if I had some of the best chocolate ever when Miss Sarah and I were touring that country, it isn’t the birthplace of this treat.

How to make German Chocolate Cupcakes article cover image

We found the answer with an article from NPR:

The name comes from Sam German — who was either an American or an Englishman, depending on what you read. In 1852, he invented a style of sweet baking chocolate for the Baker’s chocolate company. The company named it after him, but “German’s Chocolate” didn’t become well-known until 1957.

Eventually the language changed and the man became a country – who knew?

Where was German chocolate invented?

Right here in the good ol’ USA. Sam German was an English-American employee of the Baker’s Chocolate company and his gem added a little more sugar than the traditional semi-sweet fare that was normally made there.

As for the German chocolate cake recipe, that came about 100 years later from a Texan housewife: Mrs. George Clay. She sent the recipe in to her local paper and when General Foods found out (they owned Baker’s Chocolate), they spread that recipe everywhere to help sell their product.

Mrs Clay created the “Green bean casserole” of chocolate cakes as everyone knows what it is – that sweet chocolatey goodness topped with a creamy coconut-pecan frosting.

What is the difference between chocolate and German chocolate?

German sweet chocolate is dark baker’s chocolate with sugar added. Basically, the difference between chocolate and German chocolate cake is the fact that chocolate cake uses cocoa powder while the German version uses melted chocolate.

Baker’s brand sweet chocolate baking bars are a little harder to come by these days – they ARE around you just have to hunt for them. Many people choose to use semi-sweet chocolate in its place now – but the Baker’s bars are worth the search if you ask me. I can tell the difference in the finished product.

What can I substitute for German chocolate?

As I mentioned, Baker’s chocolate may be a challenge to locate. Semi-sweet chocolate chips may be melted down to whip up the recipe if you are in a pinch.

German chocolate cupcakes from box

Yes, this is do-able.

How do you make German chocolate frosting from scratch?

Yes, it is possible. Honestly, the stuff in the can is on sale for $1.50 or less all the time and it is hard to make it from scratch for even twice that price. The effort IS worth the taste, but you will find yourself spending a lot more than two bucks.

Here is a great video on how to make it from scratch, should you feel so inclined:

Watch how to make a pecan and coconut frosting for German chocolate cake. Make the frosting on the stove top and then add to the cake or cupcakes while it’s still warm.

Does German chocolate frosting need to be refrigerated?

If you are buying it – then no. You can keep it shelf-stable for up to a year (per it’s expiration date stamped on the container) if you do not open the tamper seal.

If you are making it from scratch, you want to add it to your cake or cupcakes when it is still warm. That makes refrigeration not even an option, although if you chill it, it will be thicker. Some people pop their freshly frosted treats into the fridge for 20-30 minutes to help that frosting set up a bit.

Remember, baked goods do better at room temperature, don’t leave that German chocolate goodness in there!

Now, let’s get to those Amazing German Chocolate Cupcakes!

My one big tip here – is to have as many of the ingredients at room temperature as you can, from the butter to the water. You won’t be wasting the early part of your oven time bringing those items up to the same temperature as the rest of the ingredients and you will have a better finished product.

These babies are kind of over the top. They are German’s chocolate base cupcakes, with the traditional coconut pecan frosting, drizzled with chocolate ganache, and topped with chocolate frosting that graces a few chopped pecans.

It is SO worth the putzyness – trust me.

For the German Chocolate Cupcake Base You will need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces Baker’s German’s chocolate
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water


Preheat oven to 350.

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a medium-sized bowl.

In another medium-sized mixing bowl, mix butter and sugar until fully combined. The end result should look like wet sand.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. Keep in mind that in the microwave, it doesn’t melt into a “pool” but gets shiny. You need to try to “mush” it to see if it has melted every 30 seconds or so as it can burn quickly.

Once the melted chocolate is cool enough to touch, add it to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time.

Add in oil, vanilla, and sour cream until just combined. Then gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Lastly, add the water.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and put in the oven. Bake for 18-22 minutes.

Immediately remove cupcakes from the cupcake tin and place them on a cooling rack or on the counter to cool to room temperature.

**I KNOW I talked about German Chocolate Cake being frosted while still warm, but we are making German Chocolate Cupcakes with layers of frosting and goodness added to them. It is easier with all items being cooler.

Coconut Pecan Topping

  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk 
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted sweet cream butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • cup3/4 C pecan chips
  • small ice cream scooper

For the Coconut Pecan Topping:

Using a medium saucepan, combine the evaporated milk, egg yolks, brown sugar, and butter over medium heat. Make sure to stir constantly until thickened. Should take about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and strain using a mesh strainer. Stir in the vanilla, shredded coconut and pecan chips. Allow the mixture to cool completely

Chocolate Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted sweet cream butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar 
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 disposable piping bag fitted with a star tip

For the Chocolate frosting

Using a standing mixer, beat all ingredients together until combined, smooth and fluffy, but holds its shape. Scoop into the piping bag and set aside.

Chocolate Ganache

  • ½ cup chocolate chips 
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream 
  • 1 disposable piping bag

For the Chocolate Ganache 

Using a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute and mix until smooth. Scoop into the disposable piping bag and cut the tip off, setting it aside.

Building the German Chocolate Cupcakes

Scoop a small amount of the coconut pecan topping onto the cupcake and spread into a thick flat disk.

Building the German Chocolate Cupcakes adding the coconut pecan frosting to them

Drizzle the chocolate ganache over the pecan coconut topping. 

Building the German Chocolate Cupcakes drizzling them with chocolate ganache

Pipe a dollop of the chocolate frosting in the center.

Sprinkle some chopped pecans on top.

German chocolate filled cupcakes?

It can be a little challenging to just pipe that coconut pecan frosting inside a cupcake. You really need to remove a “core” from the top, add some frosting, and then replace the top. It might not be pretty, but it is a tasty surprise as all filled cupcakes are.

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