German Chocolate Cake


German Chocolate Cake. You know what I’m talking about, a big impressive chocolate layer cake with that distinctive coconut pecan frosting. It always seemed a bit intimidating to me and I had never attempted to make one before. My husband has a texture thing about shredded coconut. So with all of the layers of shredded coconut on this cake, and my unfounded trepidation, it just wasn’t happening. But then, a good friend of mine had a birthday coming up and I asked around to see what his favourite cake might be. Yup. You guessed it, German Chocolate Cake. So I did a bit of recipe research on the good old interwebs and found one that I was sure would produce a fantastic cake.


I also uncovered a few interesting facts about this confection. Turns out it isn’t German at all! Nope. It is a total German poser! In actuality, this cake is so American it might as well be whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy! You see, back in 1852 there was an American chocolate maker whose name was Sam German. Now he invented a dark baking chocolate for Baker’s Chocolate Company. In honour of Sam, the Baker’s company christened this new chocolate as “Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate”. Fast forward 105 years later to 1957, when a homemaker from Dallas Texas published a recipe for “German’s Chocolate Cake”. This recipe became very popular and various newspapers across the country published the recipe. It essentially went, as we would say today, viral causing Baker’s Chocolate sales to increase by as much as 73%. The thing is that some where along its meteoric rise to fame, that possessive “German’s” changed to just “German”. Ahhh….so it became known as “German Chocolate Cake”. Thus conveying it’s false Germanic pedigree to the masses.


But enough of my historic ramblings, let’s get back to talking about this incredibly decadent cake today. This wonderful recipe comes from the Brown Eyed Baker who adapted it from David Lebowitz. With it you will be able to create a big tall dark chocolate four layer cake. Each of these rich chocolate layers are brushed with a rum syrup which not only intensifies the chocolate flavour but keeps the cake incredibly moist. After being drenched in rum syrup the layers are filled with a custard based toasted coconut pecan frosting. And then, as if anything else was needed, the sides of the cake are covered with a bittersweet chocolate ganache that is just to die for!


This stunning cake is actually easy to make, though a bit time-consuming. But with just one bite, you will know it was all worth it! Needless to say, my friend was delighted with his German Chocolate Birthday Cake. Indeed my coconut adverse husband even happily ate a slice. But don’t wait for a special occasion to make this cake. Believe me, any day you choose to make this spectacular cake will instantly be transformed into a special occasion. And in the meantime, let’s all raise a glass to Sam German whose lovely German’s chocolate made it all possible…


German Chocolate Cake

recipe from: Brown Eyed Baker


For the Cake:

  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cup + ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted

For the Rum syrup:

  • 2/3 cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons dark rum

For the Chocolate Icing:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream


Make the Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Melt the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Use either a double-boiler or microwave on 50% for 30 seconds to 1 minutes. Stir until smooth, then set aside to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and 1¼ cup of the sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the melted chocolate until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the flour mixture, beating until just combined. Add the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, mixing until combined, and then add the remainder of the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the ¼ cup of sugar and beat until they form stiff, glossy peaks.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there’s no trace of egg white visible.

Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake layers completely (leave them in the pans). While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup and icing.

Make the Filling: Stir together the heavy cream, sugar and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the butter, salt, pecans and coconut in a large bowl and set aside. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170 degrees F.). Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature.

Make the Rum Syrup: In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum. Set aside until ready to use.

Make the Chocolate Icing: Place the chopped chocolate, corn syrup and butter in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Once the filling and icing are both cooled to room temperature, refrigerate for 1 hour.

Assemble the Cake: Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally using a sharp serrated knife, so you have four cake layers. Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush the top of the cake layer with the rum syrup. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top. Repeat, brushing the top of each cake layer with the rum syrup, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top. Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.


17 Responses to German Chocolate Cake

  1. What a gorgeous cake!

  2. This looks so amazing, makes me sad Bathing Suit season is looming! LOL🙂

  3. kayjayaitch says:

    Very nice post! I always appreciate some background history to my recipes

  4. Jenny says:

    Pictures, recipe, (I can do without a four page history) all great but none of these comments actually say anyone has actually made it!!!!

    • Jennifer says:

      I made this this past Sunday and its very, very good!! It’s my husbands favorite cake but I don’t like coconut shavings (it’s a texture thing) so I would never make it. For some reason I just had an urge to make this for him and wow it’s decadent! He loved it too!! I even enjoyed several pieces and like I said before I don’t even like coconut shavings. It came out super moist and looking almost like the picture. This was my first time making a four layered cake. But this is definitely going in the recipe book. Deliciousness!!!🙂 thank you.

  5. Reblogged this on sherrinorris16 and commented:
    German Chocolate Cake< Yummy

  6. jarraitee says:

    Reblogged this on PHRENOLOGY and commented:

  7. Randi says:

    This was a delicious endeavor, albeit a time-consuming one!! It took me about 3 hours start to finish, but it was fantastically moist and the filling was probably the best I’ve ever had on a German Chocolate Cake! The ganache was also lovely and added depth to it as well. Thanks for the post!

  8. brittanymarie14377 says:

    I see some cake recipes use ‘Cake flour?’…I was wondering if you’ve made cakes using caking flour and if you really noticed much of a difference compared to All-Purpose flour?

    Also, I was curious if instead of using 2 oz. semi-sweet and 2 oz. unsweetened for the cake if i could just use all semi-sweet?….or would that make the cake too sweet????

    • liadh1 says:

      Hi Brittany Marie- I have used cake flour for some recipes. It is a lighter flour which has less gluten in it. This makes things baked with it more delicate and “crumbly”. I don’t know how the German Chocolate Cake would do with cake flour vs. all-purpose. The frosting is pretty heavy, so I don’t know if a cake flour cake would hold up to it.

      As far as using all semi-sweet chocolate, you could give it a whirl. It would be sweeter than if you had used some unsweetened chocolate in the mix, but it don’t know if you would consider it “too” sweet. I have never tried it, so I’m afraid I don’t know.

      Good luck with the cake!


  9. Stacey Sobell says:

    OMG – made this for my boyfriend’s birthday and it was a HUGE success!! This is a seriously amazing recipe. Only things to know are that it’s pretty time-consuming (I think it took me 4-5 hours all told with cooling time and clean up). I would def recommend baking the cake and making the filling and frosting the night before so all you have to do day of is assemble and frost (rum syrup is super quick). I used bittersweet chocolate (as opposed to semi-sweet) in the cake and icing and would def recommend that – it presents a needed foil to the intense sweetness of the rest of the cake. Finally, I had just barely enough of the filling to cover each layer and the top. If you like the filling, I would rec doubling it. You’ll probably have leftovers, but then you can be generous with it. THANK YOU Lea and Jay for sharing this! Enjoy everyone else

    • Shelby Nielson says:

      I wanted to make this for my coworker for her birthday. However I don’t think my boss would approve of cake with Alcohol. He’s a stickler for rules. Can you substitute the Rum syrup with something else?

  10. Shelby says:

    I wanted to make this for coworker. However I don’t think my boss would approve the alcohol. He’s a stickler For rules. Can you substitute the room at syrup with something else?

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