After presenting Dad with a lemon-lemon bundt cake for four years in a row, I baked him his other favorite cake for his birthday last year, in the form of German-ish chocolate cupcakes. As another year elapsed, I debated over what to make in 2012. Lemon-lemon? German chocolate? Both? Neither?
Dad planned a backpacking trip up in the mountains for his birthday this year, so I had a little extra time to dither over his dessert. After scratching my head long enough to look like Einstein, the light bulb in my head finally flickered on. I would combine the two!
Now, how to do that?… The cake needed coconut, chocolate, and lemon components, three flavors very few bakers would mix together. But if I used one as the cake, the second as the frosting, and the third as the filling, it just might work.
After blowing out the candle and biting into my cupcake creation, Daddy proclaimed that my combo cake was the best cake he had ever eaten. I think I know what I’m baking for him next year!
You can make the cupcakes a day or two before, but assemble just before serving so the toasted coconut stays crunchy and the chocolate filling doesn’t go sour.
3 c. cake flour
2 c. granulated sugar
zest from 4 lemons
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 c. milk
3 eggs, separated
¼ c. vegetable oil
4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tbsp vanilla
pinch of cream of tartar
juice from 1 or 2 lemons
½ c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2/3 c. sour cream (light or fat-free)
2 tbsp butter, softened
½ tsp coconut extract
4-6 tsp milk (or more, as needed)
5-6 c. powdered sugar (or more, as needed)
½ c. sweetened coconut flakes, for decorating
Preheat the oven to 350° and line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
To make the lemon cupcakes, whisk together the cake flour, 1½ c. sugar, lemon zest, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks, oil, butter, and vanilla. In a clean dry bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar. Continue to mix, adding 1 tbsp of the remaining sugar at a time, until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
Slowly stir the milk mixture and lemon juice into the flour mixture until smooth. Gently fold in one-third of the egg whites. Once incorporated, gently fold in the remaining whites. Scoop the batter into the prepare pans, and bake at 350° for 18-22 min or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 min before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare the chocolate filling, add the chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 20-sec intervals, stirring between each. (It should take around 60 sec total.) Let the chocolate cool for 5 min. Sift the cocoa into the bowl and stir in. Mix in the sugar and sour cream.
To prepare the coconut frosting, cream the butter and ½ c. powdered sugar. Add in the coconut extract. Alternate between mixing in ½ tsp of milk and ½ c. (or more) of powdered sugar until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. If decorating with the coconut flakes, toast in an oven preheated to 300° for 4-6 min or until light brown and crunchy. Don’t burn it!
To assemble the cupcakes, cut a hole into the center of the cupcakes using a cupcake corer, apple corer, or the back of a large frosting piping tip. (Be creative!) Fill with the chocolate filling, and refrigerate for 5 min to allow the filling to set. Pipe or spread the coconut frosting on top, and sprinkle each with a teaspoon of the toasted coconut, if using.
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