This German Chocolate Cake has a nice soft chocolate cake, with a gooey coconut and pecan filling, and creamy chocolate buttercream frosting. It’s a delicious combo that is so irresistible.
This German Chocolate Cake can’t be beat. It’s perfect for chocolate and coconut lovers. It’s great for celebrating a birthday or special occasion.
German Chocolate Cake is one of our favorite cake flavors for celebrating a birthday. In fact, it’s one of my husband’s favorite. So the first time I made this for him was back in 2012, when we had been married for less than 2 years.
I got this delicious cake recipe and coconut pecan frosting recipe from my mother in law, and added my own chocolate buttercream recipe that I use on my easy chocolate cake to make the cake even more chocolatey.
What is German Chocolate Cake?
German chocolate cake is a layered chocolate cake topped with a coconut pecan frosting. The Coconut Pecan Frosting is custard based, and made with egg yolks and evaporated milk.
German chocolate isn’t a super chocolatey cake on it’s own. The cake sometimes has a chocolate frosting on the sides of the cake, or chocolate ganache over the top. I added chocolate buttercream to the sides of the cake, and little rosettes to the top of the cake as well, to make it more chocolatey, rich, and delicious.
Why is it called German Chocolate Cake?
Although I do love all things German, did you know that “German chocolate cake” didn’t originate in Germany at all. It was actually named after an American named Sam German, who developed the Baker’s German Chocolate that is used in the cake. But the original recipe came from a Texan homemaker. Interesting, right?
How to make German Chocolate Cake?
First you’ll make your German Chocolate Cake layers. Start by preheating the oven. Line the bottom of your baking pans with parchment paper, then spray the baking pans with nonstick spray.
Chop up the German Chocolate bar into bite sized pieces. Bring 1/2 cup of water to boil in a small sauce pan. Once it is boiling, remove it from the heat and add your chocolate pieces to the hot water. Stir until the chocolate is totally melted. Set it aside to cool slightly.
In a large mixing bowl cream your butter until it is smooth (a stand mixer, or a large bowl with a hand mixer works best). Add in the sugar and continue mixing till smooth. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Then stir in the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate.
In another bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda, and salt. You can also add in 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to the cake (as pictured) to give it more of a chocolate flavor in the cake itself, and give it a darker brown chocolate color. ** Add half your flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, then stir till combined. Then half the buttermilk to the mixture, and stir till combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk.
Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans. I used two 9inch cake pans, but you can also use three 8inch pans, if you want a slightly taller cake. Bake for 30 minutes, then check if the cake is done by inserting a toothpick to see if it comes out mostly clean. Continue cooking as needed till the cake is done. Cool the cake layers for 10 minutes in the pans, then remove from the pans to finish cooling on cooling racks.
How to make Coconut Pecan Frosting?
To make the coconut pecan frosting you will need egg yolks, evaporated milk, sugar, butter, vanilla extract, coconut flakes, and chopped pecans.
You’ll need to add the egg yolks, evaporated milk to a large sauce pan, and mix them together well. Add in the sugar and butter. Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes to let the mixture melt, and thicken to a nice golden brown color. Stir constantly while it is cooking. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, coconut and pecans. Set aside till needed for the cake.
How to make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting?
In a large bowl, cream your butter until nice and smooth (a stand mixer or hand mixer works great here too). Add in three cups of the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder until they’re mixed in well to the butter. Add in vanilla extract, cream, and salt, and mix until smooth. Turn the mixer up to a medium high speed and beat until the frosting is nice and fluffy.
How to assemble a German Chocolate Cake?
Have your chocolate cake layers, coconut pecan frosting, and chocolate buttercream frosting out and ready to use.
Cut off the tops of your cake layers as needed to make them flat across the top. Place the bottom later onto a cake stand or serving plate, or cookie sheet, whatever you have that is flat and large and you will be serving the cake on.
Spread 1/3 to 1/2 of the coconut pecan filling over the cake layer to cover it evenly. Add the second layer of cake on top of the filling.
Spread the chocolate frosting evenly over the sides of the cake. Use remaining chocolate frosting to piper swirls around the top of the cake as desired. Fill in the top middle of the cake with the remaining, coconut pecan frosting as needed. You may have extra of each frosting, depending how thick you spread the frosting in each area. You can use any extra on cookies, or cupcakes.
Slice the cake up and serve. Enjoy it with a glass of milk or scoop of ice cream.
Any leftover cake should be covered tightly with a cake lid, or plastic wrap and can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
If you have any leftovers you want to store longer, you can freeze the leftover cake (or the whole cake). The cake slices or whole cake should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, then in a freezer safe container or bag, for 2 to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature when you’re ready to serve.
This German chocolate cake is the best of the best. It has the best layers of moist chocolate cake, filled with coconut pecan frosting in the middle, all coated in a rich and creamy butter cream frosting. It’s the perfect cake for a special occasion, and everyone will gobble it right up.
Looking for more German chocolate inspired recipes?
- German Chocolate Cake Cookies
- German Chocolate Poke Cake on Sugar and Soul
- German Chocolate Brownies on Celebrating Sweets
- German Chocolate Fudge on Favorite Family Recipes
- German Chocolate Cheesecake on Life Love and Sugar
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German Chocolate Cake
For the German Chocolate Cake:
- 4 oz German's Sweet Baking Chocolate Bar
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 3/4 cup white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cup sifted flour
- 1/4 cup sifted cocoa powder (optional)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (or mix 1 cup regular milk with 1 TBS vinegar and lemon juice and allow to sit for 10 minutes)
For the Coconut Pecan Frosting:
- 4 egg yolks
- 12 oz evaporated milk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cup butter
- 7 oz sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
For the Chocolate Buttercream:
- 1 1/2 cup butter (softened)
- 6-7 cups powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 6-7 TBS heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 dash salt
- Large Mixing Bowl
For the German Chocolate Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Chop Chocolate into bite sized pieces and set aside.
- Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Remove from heat.
- Mix the chocolate pieces into the boiling hot water, stir until melted.
- In a large mixing bowl cream your butter.
- Slowly add in the sugar and stir till mixed.
- Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg is added.
- Stir in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate.
- In another bowl, mix together your flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Add half the flour mixture and half the buttermilk to the chocolate and egg mixture, alternating.
- Beat smooth after each addition.
- Line the bottom of three 8inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. (Can also bake in two 9inch cake pans)
- Pour cake batter evenly into the two or three prepared cake pans.
- Bake cakes in preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes for 8 inch pans, until a toothpick comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay) (Bake for 30-40 minutes for 9 inch pans)
- Cool cakes in pans for about 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and finish cooling on racks.
For the Coconut Pecan Frosting:
- Beat egg yolks, evaporated milk and vanilla in a large saucepan until well blended.
- Add sugar and butter.
- Cook on medium heat about 15 minutes until thickened and golden brown. Stir constantly.
- Remove from heat.
- Add in the coconut and pecans and mix well.
- Cool until needed for the cake.
For the Chocolate Buttercream:
- In a large bowl cream your butter until smooth.
- Turn the mixer on low and add in 3 cups of powdered sugar and the cocoa powder. Beat until they're mixed well.
- Add in the vanilla extract and cream and salt and mix till smooth.
- Turn the mixer up to medium high speed and beat until it has gotten nice and fluffy.
To Assemble the Cake:
- Have your cake layers, coconut pecan frosting, and chocolate buttercream frosting out on the counter and ready to use.
- Cut off the tops of each cake layer as needed to make them flat.
- Place the first cake layer on a cake stand, or serving plate.
- Spread 1/3 of the coconut pecan filling over the top of the cake layer.
- Add the second layer of cake on top of the filling.
- Spread chocolate frosting over the sides of the cake.
- Use remaining chocolate frosting to pipe swirls around the top of the cake.
- Fill in the top center of the cake with the last part of the coconut pecan frosting.
- Slice and serve.
This German Chocolate Cake was first posted on March 23, 2013. Photos and text updated on July 29, 2020.