German Chocolate Cupcakes

Scrumptiously soft and pillowy chocolate cupcakes crowned with a luscious coconut-pecan topping and creamy chocolate frosting!

As far back as I can remember, German Chocolate Cake has always been known as “man cake” to me. From my dad, to my uncle, to my brother and my cousins, it seems like most of the men in my life go crazy for this cake. I can’t really blame them though. It’s definitely not your typical frosted layer cake. What sets it apart from most other cakes is the mouthwateringly delicious coconut-pecan frosting that it’s paired with. That stuff is LETHAL.

A while back, I made my own version of this iconic cake, and I STILL can’t get that addictive coconut-pecan frosting out of my head. So I decided why not make a mini version of German Chocolate Cake, AKA, cupcakes…

These German Chocolate Cupcakes are sure to please the men AND women in your life. Fluffy, moist, and beyond heavenly, these little gems of deliciousness have all of the exquisite elements of a traditional German Chocolate Cake.

Let’s start with the supremely soft chocolate cake, shall we?

Although German Chocolate Cake is traditionally made with Baker’s German sweet chocolate, I opted for a mix of unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder. The combination of this chocolate duo adds a richer flavor to the cake that you just can’t get with German sweet chocolate. Oh, and speaking of richness, I also added a little bit of instant espresso powder to enhance the flavor of the chocolate. You won’t taste the espresso powder at all, but it will really deepen the flavor of the chocolate.

To keep these cupcakes nice and MOIST (I know, everyone and their dog despises that word), a good amount of sour cream is incorporated into the batter. Greek yogurt or plain yogurt can also be used. One egg yolk is also added to achieve that MOIST crumb. (Sorry, last time. I promise!) The extra fat from the yolk is basically added insurance to prevent any trace of dryness in the cupcakes. Cuz ain’t nothin’ worse than a crumbly dry cupcake!

Now we move onto the most important and MOST DELICIOUS part of these cupcakes…the coconut-pecan frosting. This frosting/topping is what distinguishes it from your ordinary chocolate cake. Moreover, I’m pretty sure it’s the main reason why all men flock to this cake. I mean, who WOULDN’T be obsessed with this frosting?? It contains the most perfect union of caramely, coconutty, pecany goodness!

There’s something magical that happens when you combine egg yolks, evaporated milk, sugar, and butter together. The heat of the stove not only allows it to thicken up into that perfectly smooth consistency, but it also creates that buttery, caramelized flavor. And when you add the TOASTED coconut and TOASTED pecans (TOAST THOSE NUTS, PEOPLE!), you have the most addictive concoction in the world. Oh, and don’t even THINK about buying the canned stuff in the grocery store–I’m pretty sure it’s earwax collected from pangolins or some weird species…

I should also add that you’ll want to make the coconut-pecan topping FIRST, so that it has a few hours to cool down completely and thicken up. Although it thickens up during the cooking process, it thickens up A LOT more once it’s completely cool. You can chill it in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process. And if you’re SUPER impatient (like myself), feel free to put it in the freezer. Just make sure to stir it every 15 minutes or so.

While the coconut-pecan topping adds an abundance of decadence on its own, I thought that a little swirl of chocolate frosting wouldn’t hurt. Plus, it makes the cupcakes extra PURTY. 

The chocolate frosting is a standard American buttercream, which is made by whipping some butter and salt together. Once the mixture is pale and fluffy, cocoa powder is added. Make sure to sift the cocoa powder first since cocoa powder has the tendency to clump together, and those clumps are almost impossible to break up once they’re added to the frosting.

After the cocoa powder has been fully incorporated, vanilla is added, followed by the powdered sugar. The frosting will look rather dry once all of the powdered sugar is added, but then a few splashes of heavy cream are added to smooth and lighten things up.

Although it can be pretty satisfying to end up with the perfect amount of frosting to cover every single cupcake, in this case, I was incredibly bummed that I didn’t have a little of that yummy nummy coconut-pecan topping to inhale at the end. However, if you want a little leftover for yourself, I won’t tell anyone that you skimped on the cupcakes…


German Chocolate Cupcakes

Scrumptiously soft and pillowy chocolate cupcakes crowned with a luscious coconut-pecan topping and creamy chocolate frosting!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 17 Cupcakes


Coconut-Pecan Topping*

  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • cup brown sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup sour cream

Chocolate Buttercream

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream


Make the Coconut-Pecan Topping:

  • In a medium saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and evaporated milk together. Add the sugars, butter, and salt and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture is boiling and thickened. The consistency should coat the back of a spoon, like a thin pudding.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, coconut, and pecans. Allow filling to cool completely before spreading on top of cupcakes.

Make the Cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  • In a double boiler, combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, hot water, and espresso powder, stirring until smooth. Mixture will be thick. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the chocolate mixture and vanilla and continue beating until combined.
  • Add a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the sour cream, mixing until incorporated. Repeat process with remaining flour mixture and sour cream until batter is thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and give one last stir.
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Buttercream:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt together on high until fluffy and pale in color, about 4-5 minutes. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla, and continue beating until combined.
  • Decrease speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a half cup at a time. Add the heavy cream and beat until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Transfer buttercream to a piping bag, fitted with a star tip. I used Wilton's 2D tip.

To Assemble:

  • Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the coconut-pecan topping onto each cupcake, using an offset spatula/butter knife to spread it evenly over the cupcake. Pipe the buttercream into the center of each cupcake. Serve and enjoy!


*It's best to make the coconut-pecan topping first to give it time to cool before assembling the cupcakes. The topping can also be made up to 3 days ahead.

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