When it comes to German Chocolate Cake, nobody does it better! My easy recipe for German chocolate cake features a gooey coconut pecan frosting and a decadent, dark, super-moist chocolate cake, finished with a creamy chocolate buttercream frosting.
Do I have your attention?
I’m going to warn you ahead of time unless you have better self-control than I do, you may find yourself going back for another slice. And don’t forget a glass of cold milk to go with it!
Did you know that German Chocolate Cake isn’t from Germany?
Who Created German Chocolate Cake?
In 1852, Samuel German, an English-American Baker, worked for Baker’s Chocolate Company, where he created a new type of sweetened dark baking chocolate. This chocolate was named Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate after its creator.
105 years after the creation of German’s Sweet Chocolate, The Dallas Morning News published a recipe by a Texas homemaker, Mrs. George Clay. She called her recipe “German’s Chocolate Cake” because it used that brand’s sweeter variety of chocolate.
General Foods, the owner of Baker’s Chocolate Company at the time, noticed the recipe and distributed it throughout the country. Many publications decided to switch German’s to German, making the widely recognized title German Chocolate Cake.
Ingredients to make German Chocolate Cake
I changed up the original recipe a bit, swapping out the baker’s melted chocolate for unsweetened cocoa. The cocoa powder adds incredible depth of flavor and rich chocolate color to this classic cake.
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make my German Chocolate Cake recipe. In Chef Speak this is called the “Mise en Place” which translates to “Everything in its Place”.
Not only does setting your ingredients up ahead of time speed up the cooking process, it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
I love my KitchenAid Mixer. This is one of the mixers I use in my home kitchens and the best choice for home baking.
How to make a German Chocolate Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Butter two 9-inch cake rounds and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment rounds.
- Add the all-purpose flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to a large mixing bowl.
- Blend the dry ingredients together.
- Add the eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, and vanilla extract to the flour mixture (eggs and buttermilk should be at room temperature)
- Mix the wet ingredients into the flour mixture by hand or on medium speed with the beater attachment of an electric mixer. Beat just until smooth, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Don’t overmix!
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.
- Bake for cakes for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then turn out the cakes onto a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.
How to make German Chocolate Frosting
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar to the melted butter.
- Whisk the butter sugar mixture until well blended.
- Add the egg yolks, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract to the saucepan.
- Cook the mixture over medium heat for 10 – 12 minutes until thickened. Stir the mixture frequently and don’t let it burn.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the coconut and pecans.
Let the coconut pecan frosting cool completely before using it to assemble the cake.
How to Make a Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer)
- Beat the butter until light and fluffy.
- Add in the cocoa powder and vanilla extract.
- Beat the ingredients until well combined.
- Add one tablespoon of milk to thin out the mixture, mixing until creamy.
- Add the powdered sugar to the mixture, 1 cup at a time on low speed.
- Mix until well combined (scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions of the confectioner’s sugar).
- Add 1-2 additional tablespoons of milk to the frosting to achieve a spreadable consistency.
When the frosting is completed, you can begin assembling the German Chocolate Cake.
How to Assemble a German Chocolate Cake
- Place one layer of the chocolate cake top down on a large cake dish.
- Spread half of the coconut pecan frosting on top of the first layer.
- Place the other cake layer on top of the frosting and spread the remainder of the coconut pecan frosting on the top of the cake.
- Use the chocolate buttercream to frost the outside of the cake. Save some for a pastry bag to decorate the top edge of the cake.
When it comes to German Chocolate Cake, this is a great recipe! I know you’ll find many out there, but trust me when I tell you this could just become your new favorite cake.
German chocolate cake is traditionally made with sweet baking chocolate, while devil’s food recipes call for unsweetened chocolate.
Yes, it typically has a sweeter flavor than a classic chocolate cake because of the type of chocolate that is used. But the most notable difference between the two types of cake is the coconut pecan frosting layer in the center of the cake and on top.
The answer is simple: if you love chocolate, cocoa will give you a richer, darker, and more flavorful cake. Melted chocolate will make a milder, lighter cake, which will be lost against the coconut pecan frosting.
No, it does not. You can keep the cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. You can refrigerate the cake, but it needs to have time to warm up before serving.
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These are the spatulas I use in my kitchen. They are durable, heat resistant and easy to keep clean.