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A German chocolate cake on a pink cake stand with a piece being removed.
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German Chocolate Cake

This classic dessert features a rich and tender chocolate cake slathered in a coconut pecan caramel frosting that's beyond addictive and totally delicious!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 10 Slices
Calories 414kcal

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 4 oz Baker's German's sweet chocolate, chopped 115 grams
  • 1/2 cup hot water or coffee 120 ml
  • 2 1/4 cups AP flour 270 grams
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder 10 grams
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 2g
  • 1 tsp baking soda 6g
  • 1/2 tsp salt 3g
  • 1 cup buttermilk 240 ml
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter 280 grams, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar 400 grams divided
  • 4 eggs room temperature, large, separated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 7mL

For the Coconut Pecan Frosting:

  • 1 cup toasted pecans
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar 300g, use brown sugar for more caramel flavor
  • 12 oz evaporated milk 360mL
  • 3 large 60 grams egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter 170g cut into pieces
  • 1/8 tsp salt 1g
  • 1 1/2 cup sweetened or unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut 150g
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 2mL, heaping

Instructions

For the Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Lightly butter and flour, and line the bottoms of three - 8 x 2 inch deep round baking pans with parchment paper.
  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. 
  • Melt the chopped chocolate and coffee, or water, in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the water doesn't touch the bowl.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add 1 3/4 cups of sugar (reserving the rest for the egg whites) and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy (this will take about three to five minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine. Then add the melted chocolate and beat until incorporated.
  • Add the flour mixture and butter milk in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat only until the ingredients are mixed together.
  • Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl at high speed. Slowly drizzle in the 1/4 cup of reserved sugar as mix. Once soft, almost stiff peaks form, mix about a cup of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it then carefully fold the remaining the egg whites into the batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the three prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Rotate the pans about halfway through baking to ensure even baking. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Butter or lightly spray with a non stick vegetable spray a wire rack before inverting the cakes onto the rack to prevent the cakes from sticking. Cool the cakes completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from oven, cool, and then chop fairly fine.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, egg yolks, butter, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, and when the mixture begins to boil and thicken, remove from heat (about 5 minutes). Stir in the chopped pecans, coconut, and vanilla extract. Let cool until spreadable (about 30-60 minutes).
  • To Assemble: Place one layer of cake (top facing down), on your serving plate, and cover with one third of the frosting. Place the second layer of cake, onto the first cake layer and frost with another one-third of the frosting. Then add the third cake layer and frost the top of the cake with the remaining frosting (sides of cake are left bare). The finished cake can be stored at room temperature for a 2-3 days or it can be refrigerated.

Video

Notes

  • Whip those egg whites up last and lighten the batter by whisking in 1/4 of that fluff into the batter before folding in the rest.
  • To get FLAT layers that are moist inside and out try using cake strips! You can buy a set on the shop page or make your own from foil and paper towels at home. I made a whole blog post on it so check it out if you’re interested!
  • If you're out of buttermilk try adding two tablespoons of lemon juice or white vinegar to whole milk. Stir and set aside a few minutes to curdle.
  • The frosting is traditionally made with pecans but you can use walnuts or even chopped macadamias if preferred.
  • DOUBLE the frosting for an even more decadent cake. You won't be sorry!

Nutrition

Serving: 109g | Calories: 414kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 4.3g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 8.5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6.8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7.3g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 158mg | Fiber: 1.9g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 290IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1.7mg