German Chocolate Cake

Classic German Chocolate CakeGermanChocolateBirthday

While researching my Birthday Cake BookI spoke with several people who said no birthday would be complete without this cake. Chocolate layers are filled and topped with a sweet coconut-pecan frosting. The name of the cake comes from a sweet chocolate bar developed for Baker’s Chocolate Co. by Sam German in the mid 1800’s. It was originally called German’s Chocolate Cake because the cake was made with his chocolate. A traditional German chocolate cake has three layers and is made with sweet chocolate and buttermilk. If you are short on time, use our Easy Chocolate Cake recipe. Whether two or three layers, the filling is only used between the layers and on top of the cake, leaving the sides exposed; it gives a great ratio of cake to frosting.

And speaking of birthdays and friends, I made the cake in these images for a friend with whom I had lost touch for years. Rachel Roy, I am not letting you go again! You make me laugh and smile every single time I talk to you or see you. Friends like that should be cherished.


German Chocolate Cake
Makes: Makes 1, 9-inch round layer cake; serves 12 to 14
  • 4 ounces semisweet (or Baker’s German Sweet) chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups evaporated milk
  • 1⅓ cups sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1⅓ cups toasted pecan halves, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat the insides of three 9-inch by 2-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line bottoms with parchment rounds, then spray parchment.
  2. Melt chocolate and water together in microwave or top of double boiler and whisk until smooth and cool to room temperature. Whisk together with buttermilk; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl to combine and aerate; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in vanilla.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition, allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in four additions, alternately with the chocolate/buttermilk mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Divide batter evenly in pans and smooth tops with offset spatula.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick shows a few moist crumbs. The edges will have begun to come away from the sides of the pan. Cool pans on racks for 5 minutes. Unmold, peel off parchment, and place directly on racks to cool completely. Layers are ready to fill and frost. Alternatively, place layers on cardboards and double wrap in plastic wrap; store at room temperature if assembling within 24 hours.
  6. For frosting: place evaporated milk and sugar in large saucepan and whisk to combine. Whisk in egg yolks and butter pieces. Gently cook over medium heat until mixture reaches a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes, whisking frequently, until it slightly darkens and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans. Cool, stirring occasionally to release heat, until just warm to the touch and thickened.
  7. Place one cake layer on a display plate and top with a thick layer of frosting. Top with second layer and frost just the top of the cake with another layer of frosting; finish with last cake layer and top with remaining frosting. Allow to cool completely, which will set the frosting. Cake may be served immediately or stored at room temperature overnight in covered container.


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