Layered German Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

I just can’t help it. Come March, I’m itching for a tall piece of German chocolate cake. I have Mom to thank for this annual craving, as she’s the one who’s been indulging my dad with this layered cake goodness on his birthday for as long as I can remember.

Dad's birthday 1980

Dad’s birthday – 1980

The number of pictures I found of Dad over the years with various German chocolate cakes poked with candles is slightly amusing…

Last year I made his namesake cake for the first time in my own kitchen, and gave it some modern flair. This year I gave the cake another little spin, introducing the fun of a layered cake to cupcakes. I made Layered German Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache!

Yes, I split the cupcakes in half horizontally, slathered some of that sticky lick-every-last-finger-clean coconut pecan frosting through the middle and over the top…and then finished it off with a small swirl of thick chocolate ganache and a big ol’ pecan. It’s just the stuff my dad’s birthdays are made of!

Happy birthday, Dad!
I love you!

German Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Yield: 36 regular size layered cupcakes


for the chocolate ganache:

  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 T. vanilla

for the cupcakes:

  • 4 oz. Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. buttermilk

for the coconut-pecan frosting:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. butter or margarine
  • 1 7-oz. pkg. flake coconut (about 2-2/3 cups)
  • 1-1/2 c. chopped pecans


for the chocolate ganache:

Prepare the chocolate ganache first, so it has time to set and thicken. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small pan over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Remove cream from heat and pour cream over the chocolate pieces. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Let cool to room temperature. It will be very thick. If it is not thick and set when you're ready to pipe it onto the cupcakes, set the bowl in the refrigerator for a bit, checking every 10 minutes or so.

for the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray regular size cupcake tins generously with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition. Add egg whites and stir gently until well blended.

VERY IMPORTANT: Fill individual cupcake cavities only slightly more than half full. The batter puffs up during baking and then settles back down. If the cavities are too full, the batter leaks out over the rim of the cupcake cavity. It's a big mess!! When all cavities are half-full with batter, rap the pan gently a few times on the counter to settle any air pockets.

Bake about 17 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. VERY IMPORTANT: Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. The cake is very tender...handle with care.

for the coconut-pecan frosting:

Beat egg yolks, evaporated milk, and vanilla in large saucepan with wire whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter and cook on medium heat 12 minutes, or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add coconut and pecans. Mix well. Set frosting in the refrigerator, stirring periodically. Chill until the frosting has a bit of stiffness to it before assembling the cupcakes.

to assemble the cupcakes:

With a thin serrated knife, carefully slice the cupcakes in half horizontally. Spoon a bit of frosting onto the bottom layer and spread it out to the edge of the cake. Place its top on and then spread more frosting onto the top. Place the chocolate ganache in a piping bag fit with a medium star tip and swirl a bit onto the top of the frosting. Finish by pressing a whole pecan into the ganache.

The cake itself is rather delicate, and the coconut-pecan frosting rather gooey. I found it best to refrigerate the cupcakes once assembled, to help stabilize them. Then take them out of the refrigerator 20 minutes prior to serving.

Cake and coconut-pecan frosting adapted slightly from the recipe on the Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate wrapping, the only German Chocolate Cake recipe my mom has ever made!



34 Responses to “Layered German Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache”

  1. #
    Laurie Jesch-Kulseth @ Relishing It — March 16, 2012 at 7:57 am

    These cupcakes look perfect! I will have to make them for my brother — it’s his favorite! Have a great weekend, Brenda!

  2. #
    Maria — March 16, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Love the layered look! I am sure they taste amazing too! Happy Friday!

  3. #
    Krista — March 16, 2012 at 8:02 am

    German chocolate cake is one of my all time favorite desserts! The frosting is definitely the best part. These are so beautiful!

  4. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — March 16, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Oh my! What a fabulous idea! These sound delightful.

  5. #
    Priya — March 16, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Luks so cute..i am gonna try this soon.

  6. #
    Karyl — March 16, 2012 at 8:19 am

    German chocolate cake was my dad’s favorite too. I am also keeping watch for fabulous cupcake recipes and ideas. My son is getting married in a little over a year and his bride would like to have cupcakes. Anybody with ideas just shoot me an email!

    • Brenda replied on March 21st, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Karyl, check out this post: – I’ve always thought these could be done for a wedding, too. The little random pearls are so fun and pretty. And they come in lots of colors for different color themes.

  7. #
    Jen @ The Scrumptious Pumpkin — March 16, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I would really like to try this one. I was in Germany a few months ago and found that all of the desserts were incredible!

  8. #
    Erin — March 16, 2012 at 8:23 am

    I bet he loved these!

  9. #
    the wicked noodle — March 16, 2012 at 8:26 am

    German Chocolate Cake is my dad’s favorite, too! With my parents flying in next week I think I’ll make these for him. Thanks!!

  10. #
    Harriet — March 16, 2012 at 10:51 am

    These look yummy as always! I love chocolate ganache, it always reminds me of the German Exchange trip circa 2004!

  11. #
    Jackie Thompson — March 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I just loved German Chocolate Cake growing up ~ my mom made it too. It always made the round of birthdays. The gooey coconut and pecan topping is so delicious but I’ve never thought of adding chocolate ganache! Brilliant idea and these look so positively gorgeous! Your dad is going to just love these, I’m sure.

  12. #
    Zee — March 16, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Sounds interesting!

  13. #
    Becca @ Crumbs and Chaos — March 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    How beautiful! I think I would love this cake to frosting ratio – you can never have enough of that gooey frosting!

  14. #
    Cindy @ Once Upon a Loaf — March 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I love German Chocolate Cake and your version is beautiful! Thanks for sharing the picture of your family, too – love all the redheads! (I am the only one in my family.) Evernoted to make soon – thanks!

  15. #
    Paula — March 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Your Dad is one lucky fella to have these for his birthday this year! Best wishes, I hope he has a wonderful year. These cupcakes, with that fabulous frosting are amazing!

  16. #
    Julia {The Roasted Root} — March 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

    I’m right there with you with the German Chocolate Cake craving. I get these specific cravings too. It’s been a while since I’ve had some, so I’ll make your cupcake version, that way I can keep my portion size under control (hopefully) ;)

  17. #
    Candy — March 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm

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  18. #
    Becca - Cookie Jar Treats — March 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    These look so cute and delicious! I can’t beleive I’ve never had German Chocolate Cake before.

  19. #
    Lori Ann — March 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Your recipes look sooo yummy! I can’t wait to try them!

  20. #
    Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids — March 19, 2012 at 6:25 am

    I love German Chocolate Cake, and these little cupcake versions look fantastic.

  21. #
    Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything} — March 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    German chocolate cake is my favorite cake ever. If someone wouldn’t have created the chocolate cheesecake, than the German cake would be my favorite dessert. Love the cupcake version. So cute!

  22. #
    Mom — March 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Got the pans out so I can get the traditional German Chocolate cake made for your Dad tomorrow. Thanks for putting that picture of him in your story. Good memories!

  23. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — March 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    This looks perfect in cupcake form. It definitely makes it easier for portion control so I don’t eat the whole cake! :)

  24. #
    TidyMom — March 20, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Brenda my mom is a big German Chocolate fan too – have you seen a recipe I post way back, for upside down german chocolate cake! it’s now my mom’s favortie!!

    These cupcakes look AMAZING!! – I should maybe try the upside down cake as cupcakes!

  25. #
    L. — April 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    It must be a dad thing! Every year my dad requests the good ole german chocolate! Maybe I can cajole him into cupcakes this year :)

  26. #
    Josephine — April 18, 2012 at 1:04 am

    If you are looking for soft wonderful cakes, with yummy filling and amazing ganache frosting … Stop here. These might remind you of another type of cupcake—but these are way better.

  27. #
    Jamie — May 31, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Can’t wait to make these tomorrow for my husband’s B-Day. He loves him some German Chocolate Cake!

  28. #
    Amber — September 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Hey thanks for the recipes. I am making them right now for my husbands grandfathera birthday tonight!!!

  29. #
    Amber — September 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Hey thanks for the recipe. I am making them right now for my husband’s grandfathers birthday tonight!!!

    • Brenda replied on September 30th, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks for letting me know, Amber – I hope your husband’s grandfather liked the cupcakes!


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