I’m a lucky girl.  I had the privilege of growing up knowing all four of my grandparents.  It is a blessing to be able to see your family regularly and learn where you came from and about the lives of your family.  All of my grandparents are very special people.

Just like my Pepaw, my other grandpa, Pappa G, is a quite guy.  When he does talk however, he usually has something interesting and/or funny to say.  He also likes giving everyone a hard time.  For example, when eating out, when the waiter asks if everything tastes good, my grandpa responds with, “I haven’t tried everything yet.”  Or if you go and visit him rather than saying, “It was good to see you”, he says “I’m glad you got to see me.”  Funny guy.

Pappa G is also special because, well, he looks like Santa Claus.  Growing up he would play Santa around the holidays for community events and every Christmas morning my sister and I would get a VIP visit from Santa.  That is one of my favorite holiday memories.

Despite growing up in a small town in Missouri, he has had his share of adventure as well.  He served in the army during the Korean War and was stationed in Germany.  One of my favorite stories is of his 16 day road trip throughout the majority of Europe during a leave.  Along with some other army guys, my grandpa rented a car and made it from Germany to Italy to Denmark and even up into Sweden stopping in all the countries in between.  It is amazing to me that he did this in 16 days despite not having traveled much, let alone in different countries.  I love imagining my young grandpa experiencing all these new places for the first time.

Pappa G and my grandma are coming to visit for Thanksgiving and I am super excited to celebrate with them and have my grandpa give me a hard time.  Of course this calls for dessert, so today I am made my Pappa G’s all-time favorite dessert, German Chocolate cake.  I decided to switch the recipe up a bit and make cupcakes instead of one big cake

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 20 cupcakes

All recipes adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Devil’s Food Cake

1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup boiling brewed coffee

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


3 large egg yolks

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cups pecans, chopped fine

Chocolate Frosting

10 ounces, semi-sweet chocolate, chopped fine

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened

Make the cake:  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Place 20 cupcake cups into two muffin pans.  Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk the boiling coffee, chocolate, and cocoa powder until well combined.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.  Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until incorporated.

Reduce the speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the chocolate mixture.  Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and remaining chocolate mixture.  Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.  Divide batter evenly among the cupcake cups.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Make filling:  Cook the egg yolks, evaporated milk, sugar, butter, and salt together in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is boiling and slightly thickened, about 6 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and stir in vanilla and coconut.  Let chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours.  Stir in pecans right before using.

Make Frosting:  Place the chocolate in a food processor.  Bring the cream, corn syrup, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.  Stir mixture to combine.

Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and process until the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.  Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to process until combined, about 30 seconds.  With the machine running, add the softened butter, one piece at a time, through the feed tube.  Continue to process until the frosting is smooth and no butter chunks remain.

Transfer the frosting to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thick and spreadable, 1-1 1/2 hours.

Assemble cupcakes:  Cut a 1-1 1/2 inch circle on the top of each cupcake and remove center of cupcake so there is a well about an inch deep in the middle of each cake.  (You can freeze the centers that you remove for another use)

Place filling into a pastry bag or a large ziploc bag.  Cut a large hole in the tip of bag and pipe filling into the centers of each cupcake mounding filling a little of the top (see picture above).  Fill a pastry bag (or large ziploc), fitted with a star tip, with chocolate frosting and pipe around cupcakes to cover the entire surface of the cakes.  Let the mounds of filling continue to peak through the frosting (see picture above).  Garnish tops of cupcakes with a whole pecan (optional).  Enjoy and share with your grandpa.