German Chocolate Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Distinctive with its decadent topping of coconut and pecans, German Chocolate Cake became popular in the 1950’s, and continues to be a favorite today. Made with German Sweet Chocolate and buttermilk, this cake is delicious to eat plain, topped with a chocolate frosting, or topped with sweetened whipped cream. However, add the classic coconut-pecan topping and this cake comes alive with a traditional flavor.
Recipe type: Dessert | Butter Layer Cake | Chocolate Cake
Serves: 10 to 12
  • 4 ounces German Sweet Chocolate
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
Coconut-Pecan Topping:
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 7 ounces (about 2⅔ cups) shredded or flaked sweetened coconut, break-up any clumps
  • 1½ cups pecans, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 9-inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the pans, line the bottom with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust the pan with flour.
  1. Combine chocolate and hot water in the top of a double boiler over hot water; stir and heat just until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Tip: Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer. Place a stainless steel, ceramic, or glass bowl on top of the simmering water, the upper pan should not touch the water.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, stir the buttermilk and vanilla together. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
  5. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the buttermilk mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
  7. Using a balloon type whisk or large rubber spatula, gently fold the melted chocolate into the batter.
  8. In a medium mixing bowl and using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until the peaks hold their shape. Using a balloon type whisk or large rubber spatula gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  9. Bake: Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
Coconut-Pecan Topping:
  1. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan over low heat, combine egg yolks, evaporated milk, and vanilla; whisk together until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat just to a simmer or low boil, cook for 12 minutes, stirring constantly so mixture does not burn. Tip: adjust heat as necessary during the 12 minute cook to keep at a simmer or low boil. The long cooking helps develop the charistic nutty flavors of this topping.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Spread Coconut-Pecan Topping between cake layers and onto top of cake.
Recipe Notes
Pan: Three 9" Round Layers Pan Prep: Greased, Parchment Paper, and Floured Oven Temp: 350o Storage: Covered, Room Temperature

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