Growing up, the favorite family cake was German chocolate with coconut pecan frosting. Mom was too busy having fun with my little sister and me to be bothered to make a cake from scratch, and honestly, why bother when a boxed cake mix produced a moist, fool proof and flavorful cake? Back then, the coconut and pecan frosting came as a dry mix in a box to be cooked on the stove top with the addition of milk and butter. It was so good. For birthday cake requests after we were grown, she would use two frosting mixes for extra gooey yumminess. I still love German chocolate cake made from a box, but the frosting now comes in a plastic container and just doesn’t taste right.
This German chocolate cake cookie recipe caught my eye this holiday season. They satisfy the craving for chocolate, sweet pecans and coconut and put a smile of remembrance on my lips.
German Chocolate Cookies
Makes 2 dozen
1 cup/128 grams all-purpose flour
½ cup/47 grams natural cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons/113 grams butter (1 stick), at room temperature
½ cup/101 grams granulated sugar
½ cup/110 grams packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups/128 grams lightly toasted,sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup/170 grams chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup/119 grams chopped pecans
1. To toast the coconut, spread it out on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven when the edges and some of the coconut in the center are deep golden brown. It’s fine if some of the coconut is still pale.
Keep oven temperature at 350 degrees.
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth.
3. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture. Add coconut, chocolate and pecans and mix to just combine.
4. Portion the dough in 2 tablespoon scoops and roll them into balls. Place them on parchment-lined baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until dry on top but still soft in the center, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately tap the sheets against a work surface to deflate them slightly. Let the cookies sit on the sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
Anything that has chocolate and cherries in it gets my vote as a must-try goodie. I still love the cheap Cello cherries that show up around the holidays in their cellophane wrapped tidy sized box. The chocolate is waxy, the filling sickeningly sweet and messy and the cherry vaguely tastes like a cherry, but for some reason, darn, they are enjoyable once a year.
A friend made homemade chocolate cherries that were aged for a few weeks before being deemed ready in order for the filling inside to become syrupy. They were the best I ever had. I will never forget those precious confections she painstakingly made.
David Lebovitz published this recipe on his blog, and like David, anything that has fruitcake in the title intrigues me. Each year since meeting my father in law and taking note of his love for holiday fruitcake, I’ve made fruitcake in little foil pans for our family. It includes lots of fruits, nuts and brandy. I wish I could still share it with him.
Dark Chocolate Cherry Fruit Cake
Courtesy David Lebovitz
1 1/2 cups (180-20g) dried cherries, sweet or sour, chopped
1/4 cup (60ml) plus 2/3 cup (160ml) rum
1 1/4 plus 1 tablespoon (180g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (50g) unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch-process or natural
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
10 tablespoons (140g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (400g) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (180g) buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 cup (135g) walnuts, pecans, or almonds, toasted and finely-chopped
3/4 cup (120g) chocolate chips
1. A day or two before you make the cake, toss the cherries in ¼ cup of rum. Cover and let macerate, stirring a few times.
2. To bake the cakes, butter two 9-inch (23cm) loaf pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir together the eggs and yolk with the vanilla in a small bowl, then dribble them in while beating at medium speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure they’re getting completely incorporated.
5. Mix in one-third of the flour and cocoa mixture, then half of the yogurt or buttermilk. Then mix in another third of the dry ingredients, then the rest of the yogurt. Finally add the remaining dry ingredients, and gently stir in the nuts, chocolate chips and cherries. (Which should have absorbed all the liquid. If not, add that as well.)
6. Divide and smooth the batter into the two prepared loaf pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center just about comes out clean, but avoid overbaking it.
7. With a toothpick skewer, poke 50 holes in the cake and spoon 1/3 cup (80ml) of liquor over each cake. Let the cakes cool completely.
Storage: These cakes will last, well-wrapped, for 3-4 days at room temperature. If you want a more boozy cake, or one that keeps longer, you can “feed” the cake with rum. More information about how to do that is posted at the end of the Black Fruitcake recipe by Lebovitz.