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German Chocolate Cake

Rich German Chocolate Cake

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Made with melted chocolate, then filled with a thick custardy mixture of coconut and toasted pecans, my Rich German Chocolate Cake recipe will satisfy your sweet cravings! 


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!

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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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4.48 from 17 votes
German Chocolate Cake
Rich German Chocolate Recipe
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
 

Made with actual melted chocolate, then filled with a thick custardy mixture of coconut and toasted pecans, my Rich German Chocolate Cake recipe will satisfy your sweet cravings! 

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12
Author: Gemma Stafford
Ingredients
  • 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
Coconut Filling:
  • 1 cup (8floz/225ml) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz/115g) butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup (8oz/225g) sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups (4oz/ 115g) shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup (5oz/142g) pecans, chopped and toasted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
Instructions
For the Rich German Chocolate Cake:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (180°C) then butter and line 2 GoodCook 9 Inch Cake Pans. Set aside. 

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 

  4. 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. 

  5. 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. 

  6. Next, In a separate small bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.

  7. Add 1/2 the dry ingredients into the cake batter and mix. Then add 1/2 the buttermilk and continue to mix. 

  8. Repeat this process with the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk. 

  9. Lastly, using a large metal spoon like my GoodCook Basting Spoon, gently fold in the whipped egg whites. 

  10. 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.

  11. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool slightly until turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully. 

  12. While the cake is cooling make the coconut filling.

For the Coconut Filling:
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat combine the evaporated milk, butter, egg yolks, and sugar.

  2. 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. 

  3. Continue stirring constantly for about 10-12 minutes until a thick yellow custard has formed. (Watch the video for step-by-step)

  4. 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:
  1. Place the first layer of cake on your cake stand or platter.

  2. Spread over 2/3 of the coconut filling, smoothing it out into a level even layer across the first layer of cake.

  3. Place the second layer of cake on top of the filling, then top the 2nd layer of cake.

  4. 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. 

  5. On top, spread the remaining 1/3 coconut filling until an inch from the edge of the cake. 

  6. With any remaining fudge frosting pipe some rosettes around the edge of the cake on top. 

  7. Cover the cake tightly in cling wrap and store at room temperature for up to 4 days. Enjoy!

Watch the Recipe Video!

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Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!

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50 Comments

Write a Comment and Review

  1. Ana on June 17, 2019 at 4:37 am

    Hi, do you have any tip for using a loose bottom cake pan with a thin cake batter and prevent it from leaking?
    Thank you!

    • Gemma Stafford on June 17, 2019 at 5:46 pm

      Hi Ana! Thanks for reaching out! Ihave a little trick of flipping the bottom of the springform to help. If that doesn’t help you can do the following, 1) wrap a double layer of foil around your springform tin. Or 2) place a cake tin which perfectly fits the bottom of the springform pan. Voila! Those two should work nicely. Or better if you can use a regular cake tin (if you have one) to save you all the trouble 😉 Gemma

  2. Probinsyana on May 25, 2019 at 3:23 am

    The cake recipe itself is really amazing,
    Honestly im not a baker but since i was curious ‘bout the cake i tasted , so it gives me an idea , and believe it or not, its more economical and practical doing by your own, thanks for all your good recipe, its more cheaper and more tastier and plus you can create depends on what u like… thank u thank u for opening an opportunity,

    Lots of sweetness

    Probinsyana

    • Gemma Stafford on May 27, 2019 at 7:46 am

      Yay!!! I’m thrilled to hear that, Probinsyana!

      Thanks for trying it out.
      Best,
      Gemma.

  3. Wanda Blair on May 20, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    I need to make a 1/2 sheet pan German Chocolate cake. How many of the recipe should I make? Thanks.

    • Gemma Stafford on May 21, 2019 at 8:35 pm

      Hi Wanda,

      1 times the recipe should be just fine for 1/2 a sheet cake because it is actually a really big cake.

      Hope this helps,
      Gemma.

  4. Ruthj on May 15, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    I wanted some cake and this was perfect! I did not put icing or frosting on it. Taste great as is.

    • Gemma Stafford on May 16, 2019 at 2:23 am

      Yea! that is great to hear. Yes, it is a lovely rich cake for sure, I am delighted with this review,
      Gemma 🙂

  5. Charrie Topino on May 2, 2019 at 12:41 am

    Hi Gemma thank you for sharing your recipes… can i replace the buttermilk with fresh milk? Thank you in advance

    • Gemma Stafford on May 2, 2019 at 3:43 am

      Hi Charrie,
      It will be best to use buttermilk, this is an acid ingredient and it has its place. You can make substitute buttermilk (https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/homemade-buttermilk/). This is a good way to do it for each recipe, it means you do not get any waste. Most buttermilk that you buy now is cultured in some way, and even a plain yogurt will do this for you.
      I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

  6. AmethystCookie on April 21, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Can I make the filling as just a custard without both the coconut or any nuts? I’m a bit of a picky eater 😁
    Thank you and I can’t wait to try it 😊

    • Gemma Stafford on April 22, 2019 at 12:17 pm

      Yes, you can add any nut you like here. Enjoy!

  7. Donna on April 20, 2019 at 6:40 pm

    Dear Gemma,
    Although you didn’t recommend doing this awesome cake in the microwave, I had to have it for a birthday & my range is on the blink, so I tried it in the microwave anyway. The batter is so thick & rich that I decided I’d better do it as a two layer cake to make sure it got done. Five minutes & 30 seconds later I had one layer of a beautiful, moist & DELICIOUS cake! (Total time-11 minutes) I made the filling & skipped the frosting & had plenty of the “gooey” yumminess” for the middle & the top. The cake was a HUGE success & everyone wanted to know how I made it! I told them all about your site & your recipes, so I’m sure you’ll be getting a lot more desperate bakers like myself. Thank you SO much!!

    • Gemma Stafford on April 21, 2019 at 4:31 am

      Donna, you are a brave #boldbaker indeed!
      well done you. Thank you too for telling us all about this here, it is a big help. I am going to add this to my store of knowledge now too, delighted with this detailed input.
      Many thanks,
      Gemma 🙂

  8. Rabiya J. on April 4, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Greetings Gemma😘
    As always this cake came out as perfect and scrumptious too. Made this for my friend on her bday. Everybody loved it. Thanks
    Love & Regards
    Rabiya😊

    • Gemma Stafford on April 5, 2019 at 12:53 pm

      YAY, great job! Enjoy!

  9. Aneesa on February 20, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Oooh can’t wait to try this! Made your cookies the other day they were amazing! Just out of curiosity, which is the moister, more “chocolatey” cake – this cake recipe or your best ever chocolate cake recipe? Thank u xx

    • Gemma Stafford on February 20, 2019 at 4:07 pm

      OH that is tough, i’s say this one is more light the other more rich but both are very chocolatey!

  10. Dolla on February 16, 2019 at 9:15 am

    Gemma!

    What a loveky surprise to find this recipe!

    I’ve loved German chocolate cake since I was a little girl. There used to be a restaurant here in southern California called “The Farmhouse” that served the BEST German chocolate cake I’ve ever had. Like your recipe, the sides were generously frosted with a light-as-air chocolate frosting which had fine chocolate cake crumbs pressed against it–finding the chocolate frosting was a surprise to my nine-year-old self! Of course there were generous layers of the yummy coconut frosting as well.

    Sadly, that restaurant closed in the late 70s and I haven’t found a German chocolate cake to come close to what I used to enjoy. Until now.

    I haven’t tried the recioe yet but my apoetite has been whetted! These days it seems like everyone is all about red velvet or carrot cake but I’m going to be reacquainting my friends family and co-workers to this delicious cake.

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, Gemma!

    • Gemma Stafford on February 16, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Absolutely thrilled you like it! There are more steps in this cake then in my others HOWEVER, It is really an incredible cake with great texture and flavor.

      Like you said it’s an oldie but a goodie 🙂
      Gemma.

  11. Shashi Bala khulbe on February 12, 2019 at 9:05 am

    Hello chef,
    I want to know what is the substitute for eggs in this recipe. If banana or apple sauce, in how much quantity. Please let me know. Thanks.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 12, 2019 at 9:29 am

      Hi, i would use a flax egg here.

      • Parisha Singh on February 24, 2019 at 6:17 pm

        Hi Gemma! How can I use flax egg? Could you please elaborate (as I’ll be using it for the first time)?

        • Gemma Stafford on February 25, 2019 at 9:20 am

          Yes, you can! To make it you combine 3 tablespoons of ground flax with 1 tablespoon of water and then let is sit for 10 minutes or until it “blooms” or becomes gel like. From there you can use it in place of the eggs.

          • Dipika Bansal on March 7, 2019 at 5:10 am

            Hi Gemma,

            I recently came across tour website and is comoletely thrilled to try many of your receipes as I have recently developed enormous interest in baking. I love you for your generosity and your concern for audience across the world. Would be great if you can explain a point on how to treat flaxegg in this receipe since we are using egg whites and yolk separately?

            • Gemma Stafford on March 7, 2019 at 6:05 pm

              I will absolutely address this. I need to talk to Olivia about how we can go about this.

              Thanks for your lovely comment and being apart of the community.
              Best,
              Gemma.



  12. Indrani on February 9, 2019 at 9:34 am

    Hi Gemma,

    I have recently signed up & this is my first try at baking one of the yummiest cakes that one can think of! Thoroughly enjoyed the full process. The directions were very simple to follow & though I spent most of the day on it, the results were amazing! Sharing the pic with you.. please please let me know what you think of it 😊

    • Gemma Stafford on February 10, 2019 at 1:59 am

      Hi there,
      Yes! I agree, this is a labor of love, not our usual quick fix! However, it is very delicious, worthy of a party, and a real treat.
      Thank you for this lovely review, and for letting us see your results, really perfect!
      Gemma 🙂

  13. Barbara Mays-Stock on February 9, 2019 at 6:15 am

    Hi Gemma,
    I have always enjoyed your wonderful creations. I especially like this version of German Chocolate Cake and plan to try it soon.
    I have a question for you. I know it’s a little bit out of Bigger Bolder Baking’s wheelhouse, but my daughter and her husband visited Ireland on their honeymoon a while back and had an Irish Lamb Stew, which they loved and can’t seem to find a good authentic recipe for it here in the States. Can you suggest a really good recipe? I would certainly appreciate it!

    • Gemma Stafford on February 10, 2019 at 1:33 am

      Hi Barbara,
      Thank you, do let us see your German Chocolate cake when you make it!
      I hope we were nice to your daughter and son in law on their visit to Ireland.
      I grew up on Irish Stew! I am going to email you my mum’s version, and other versions too. It is a basic thing, made with the tougher cuts of lamb, but delicious!
      I hope you enjoy it!
      Gemma 🙂
      Gemma 🙂

  14. Paige on February 8, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Gemma,

    This cake looks scrumptious. I was wondering if I could bake the cake in just one pan then slice it in the middle instead of using two baking pans?

    Thanks.

    • Gemma Stafford on February 9, 2019 at 2:55 am

      Hi Paige,
      Yes, you certainly may do that. You will need to adjust the baking time. The testing of the ‘doneness’ will be important. The touch test will really help, it should feel firm to the touch when baked.
      I hope you enjoy this cake,
      Gemma 🙂

  15. Shikha on February 8, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Amazing recipe…

    Can you show cheeseblast/ cheeseburst pizza recipe?
    Can you also show how to make cheese spread from processed cheese?

    There are many recipes on YouTube but they are not true… I love your recipes and they are always perfect… Hope you could help

    • Gemma Stafford on February 9, 2019 at 2:22 am

      Hi there,
      I think this is a great idea! Thank you, I have added that to my list.
      Processed cheese is already as processed as it can get! If you are going to process cheese further into a spread you would be best to start with a good strong cheese, a melting cheese, like cheddar.
      I will have a think about this one.
      Thank you for being in touch,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Shikha on February 10, 2019 at 8:40 am

        Thankyou so much… very eagerly waiting for your cheeseblast pizza recipe…

        • Gemma Stafford on February 11, 2019 at 1:24 am

          On the list, Shikha,
          Gemma 🙂

  16. ELLEN MILLER on February 7, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    I have signed up- so many times don’t know why I never get anything in my email

    • Gemma Stafford on February 8, 2019 at 2:41 am

      Hi Ellen,
      I am sorry! Neither do I, but the tech guys should be able to help with this, I will forward your message to them. We appreciate your letting us know, thank you,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Rifadha on February 8, 2019 at 8:59 am

        Hi Gemma
        I’m not receiving any of your emails even though I have signed up.
        Rifadha

        • Gemma Stafford on February 9, 2019 at 2:23 am

          Hi Rifadha,
          I will let the tech people know about this. We are working on the website currently to improve it for you. There have been a few glitches, thank you for letting me know,
          Gemma 🙂

  17. Reshmi Bisnath on February 7, 2019 at 10:29 am

    Hi gemma how to make whole milk an butter milk i live in trinidad an my son an i loves to watch u we tried your best ever choclate chip cookies an it came out perfect we love watching u

  18. Carol on February 7, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Gemma,
    Is the desiccated coconut in Europe ok to use for this cake.
    You help me out so much…..more than you can imagine !

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 4:33 pm

      Yes, that will work here!

  19. Denise Freitas on February 7, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Thank you Gemma for another good video tutorial. I live in south Georgia and German Chocolate Cake is a staple here for holiday baking. A bit of trivia…German Chocolate get’s its name from Samuel German who developed the formula for the chocolate typically used in this cake (we have German friends who had never heard of the sweet baking chocolate called German Chocolate). I’ve baked professionally for a long time and In my opinion, the whisk attachment should only be used when preparing a sponge based cake, i.e. angle food cake. Instead, the paddle attachment creams the batter without adding too much air and results in a finer crumb to your cake. Here in the south, the coconut pecan filling is used for between layers and on top and the sides left naked. Because I like a lot of that filling, I double the recipe to have enough for my sides as well. Make sure to prepare the coconut pecan filling well in advance so that it can completely cool and thicken. A delicious addition to the cake is melting a bit of semi-sweet chocolate and drizzling it around the top rim, letting it drip down the sides. Yummm!

    • Gemma Stafford on February 8, 2019 at 3:32 am

      Hi Denise,
      Thank you for this lovely input. This will inspire other bold bakers to try this recipe, and to make it to suit what they have.
      Well done you, love this, delighted you added it to the conversation,
      Gemma 🙂

  20. Pooja on February 7, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Hi, is it possible to make it eggless?

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 4:38 pm

      In this recipe i would suggest you include eggs.

  21. Val on February 7, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Lovely cake, Thankyou

    • Gemma Stafford on February 7, 2019 at 4:38 pm

      😀 thank YOU!

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