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Hi Bold Bakers!
Since it’s been a while since I made a cake, I decided to go Bigger and Bolder than ever before and take on the classic American German Chocolate Cake.
This cake is loved by all who know it and has been highly requested, so I’m so excited to be sharing my recipe — my tips and tweaks on this classic means it’s not your grandma’s recipe anymore, it’s my Rich German Chocolate Cake. This cake is made with melted chocolate, then filled with a thick custardy mixture of coconut and toasted pecans. Complete with my Best Ever Chocolate Fudge Frosting, this is by far one of the most decadent cakes I have ever made.
What is a German Chocolate Cake?
Some of you might not know what a German Chocolate Cake is, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t either until I recently. The cake itself is a super chocolatey and moist cake, thanks to a mixture of melted chocolate and water that gets added into the batter. In addition to being chocolatey and rich, my German Chocolate Cake recipe makes everything light and tender.
It’s the buttermilk that tenderizes the batter and the whipped egg whites that add air into the mix. The result of all these components is a very unique sponge. What makes a German Chocolate Cake next level is the filling that’s layered between the cakes. Instead of being filled with frosting or buttercream, this cake is filled with a super thick custard made of coconut and pecans. The base of the custard is evaporated milk, butter, sugar, and egg yolks, so that alone should tell you how rich this filing is. This combination is what MAKES this cake.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s not at all German? The inventor’s name was Sam German, so this is an American cake through and through!
I don’t like nuts, can I still make the frosting?
If you are allergic to pecans or don’t care for them, feel free to swap them out for another nut — walnuts would also go very well here. Whatever nuts you do add, just be sure to toast them before adding them into the custard as this will make sure their flavor is fully developed.
If you don’t want to use nuts you can leave them out and make the filling with just coconut.
How to Line A Cake Tin
I know it might seem self-explanatory, but I get a lot of questions about how to properly line a cake tin. For this cake, and all my others, I use my GoodCook 9 Inch Cake Pans. These pans are non-stick and heat super evenly, which makes for the perfect bake.
In addition to having the right pans, I ALWAYS butter and line my tins. There is nothing worse than taking the time to make a gorgeous cake only to take them out of the oven and find them sticking to the pan. For this reason, I generously butter my pans all along the bottom and the sides. Then I line the pan with a round piece of parchment I cut to the size of the pan. The butter will help the parchment round stick to the pan and just add that extra insurance to the side.
No matter what cake you’re making you’ll want to prepare the pans this way.
Why did my cake sink in the middle?
This cake does involve a lot of steps, but there is a reason to the rhyme, as each part plays a very important role. The texture of my rich German Chocolate Cake is one of the best parts so you want to be sure to take care of each step. This means whipping the egg whites patiently, really allowing the chocolate and water mixture to cool before adding to the other ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing, because this is hugely important and often overlooked.
Lastly, be gentle when folding the egg whites into the batter to ensure they add the right amount of spring to your cake. If you take your time, the batter will do the work for you and bake evenly. If for any reason you experience uneven baking, it may be due to over mixing the batter, not placing the cake in the middle rack of the oven, or opening the oven door while baking. All of these things are small considerations you want to take that add up and make a big difference in the final product.
Can you make this in the microwave?
While I do have many microwave cake recipes, this is not one I suggest making in the microwave, as the batter is a lot more complex in texture than your average cake. It’s really important that it be baked in the oven for the full amount of time.
How to decorate a German Chocolate Cake
German Chocolate Cake is somewhat rustic, so I like to keep the decoration simple and allow the lovely coconut and pecan filling to peak out. Plus, then whomever I’m serving it to knows it’s not just any old chocolate cake.
After generously topping each layer or cake with the filling, I like to finish the sides of the cake with my Best Ever Fudge Frosting. For the top of the cake, I like to leave the filling showing and just pipe some frosting along the outer rim of the cake. It will look beautiful.
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Watch The Recipe Video!
Rich German Chocolate Recipe
- 2/3 cup (4oz/115g) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 6 tablespoons water
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 cups (12oz/ 340g) sugar
- 1 cup (8oz/225g) butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups (10oz/284g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (8floz/225ml) buttermilk
Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
- 1 recipe Best Ever Chocolate Fudge Frosting
For the Rich German Chocolate Cake:
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (180°C) then butter and line 2 GoodCook 9 Inch Cake Pans. Set aside.
- In a medium microwave-safe bowl combine the chocolate and the water. Place in the microwave for 1- 2 minutes until the chocolate has melted. You can also do this step over a ban marie. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks on high speed. Transfer the whipped egg whites to a clean bowl and set aside.
- Using the same hand or stand mixer on high speed, cream together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, this will take about 5 minutes.
- Add the melted chocolate, egg yolks and vanilla to the creamed butter mix. Stop the mixer if needs be and scrap around the bowl to make sure everything is mixed well.
- Next, In a separate small bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
- Add 1/2 the dry ingredients into the cake batter and mix. Then add 1/2 the buttermilk and continue to mix.
- Repeat this process with the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk.
- Lastly, using a large metal spoon like my GoodCook Basting Spoon, gently fold in the whipped egg whites.
- Once the cake batter is complete divide the batter between the two tins. Bake the cakes for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool slightly until turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.
- While the cake is cooling make the coconut filling.
For the Coconut Filling:
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat combine the evaporated milk, butter, egg yolks, and sugar.
- Stir this mixture constantly using a spatula scraping along the sides and bottom of the pan to ensure the mixture does not burn or curdle.
- Continue stirring constantly for about 10-12 minutes until a thick yellow custard has formed. (Watch the video for step-by-step)
- Remove the custard from the heat then stir in the coconut, toasted pecans and vanilla. Allow this to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature. It thickens as it cools.
To assemble the cake:
- Place the first layer of cake on your cake stand or platter.
- Spread over 2/3 of the coconut filling, smoothing it out into a level even layer across the first layer of cake.
- Place the second layer of cake on top of the filling, then top the 2nd layer of cake.
- Using a large offset spatula, frost the tops and sides of the cake with my best ever chocolate fudge frosting. I didn't do a crumb layer for this cake but if you want you can.
- On top, spread the remaining 1/3 coconut filling until an inch from the edge of the cake.
- With any remaining fudge frosting pipe some rosettes around the edge of the cake on top.
- Cover the cake tightly in cling wrap and store at room temperature for up to 4 days. Enjoy!