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German Chocolate Cake

I’ve been a fan of German Chocolate Cake ever since I was little. I think it’s in my genes to love it. My grandmother on my mom’s side loved making cakes, and she really liked German Chocolate Cake. My grandfather on my dad’s side claimed it as his favorite cake, and my mom would always be sure to make it for family reunions. He used to get really excited when we showed up with that cake. My dad also loves it and requested it last year for his birthday.

I usually make the recipe on the on the back of the box of Baker’s German Chocolate, but I wanted to try something new to see how it would compare. I knew Cook’s Illustrated had a recipe, and their recipes usually turn out very well for me, so I decided to try their version of German Chocolate Cake. The strangest thing to me is that it did not contain any German Chocolate, but rather semisweet chocolate. I think next time I make it I will try the German Chocolate, because it’s not the same without it!

This was a delicious cake. It got raves from our dinner group and was gone at the end of the night. It was a very moist cake, and I thought that the cake layers were better than the Baker’s recipe. The frosting was about the same. I think the frosting is my favorite part. I could just eat spoonfuls of it ๐Ÿ™‚ The frosting just tastes wonderful with the cake. I think it’s funny that the sides of a German Chocolate Cake are never frosted. It kind of looks naked ๐Ÿ™‚ Overall this was a great cake and I would make it again, next time using German Chocolate in place of the semisweet.

I’m also submitting this to Laurie’s new baking event, Layers of Cake.ย  I can’t wait to see all of the beautiful layer cakes that people have made!

German Chocolate Cake (Source: Cook’s Illustrated January 2005)


4 egg yolks
1 can evaporated milk (12 ounces)
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut (7 ounces)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans (6 1/2 ounces), toasted on baking sheet in 350-degree oven until fragrant and browned, about 8 minutes


4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa , sifted
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus additional for dusting cake pans
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (about 4 3/4 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon table salt
4 large eggs , room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream , room temperature

See Illustrations Below: Assembling the German Chocolate Cake

1. FOR THE FILLING: Whisk yolks in medium saucepan; gradually whisk in evaporated milk. Add sugars, butter, and salt and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is boiling, frothy, and slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl, whisk in vanilla, then stir in coconut. Cool until just warm, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cool or cold, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. (Pecans are stirred in just before cake assembly.)

2. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine chocolate and cocoa in small bowl; pour boiling water over and let stand to melt chocolate, about 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth; set aside until cooled to room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, spray two 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high straight-sided cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Sift flour and baking soda into medium bowl or onto sheet of parchment or waxed paper.

4. In bowl of standing mixer, beat butter, sugars, and salt at medium-low speed until sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula halfway through. With mixer running at medium speed, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down bowl halfway through. Beat in vanilla; increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. With mixer running at low speed, add chocolate, then increase speed to medium and beat until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl once (batter may appear broken). With mixer running at low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with dry ingredients, and beating in each addition until barely combined. After final flour addition, beat on low until just combined, then stir batter by hand with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, to ensure that batter is homogenous (batter will be thick). Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; spread batter to edges of pans with rubber spatula and smooth surfaces.

5. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard paper rounds. Cool cakes to room temperature before filling, about 1 hour. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.)

6. TO ASSEMBLE: Stir toasted pecans into chilled filling. Set one cake on serving platter or cardboard round cut slightly smaller than cake, and second cake on work surface (or leave on wire rack). With serrated knife held so that blade is parallel with work surface, use sawing motion to cut each cake into two even layers. Starting with first cake, carefully lift off top layer and set aside. Using icing spatula, distribute about 1 cup filling evenly on cake, spreading filling to very edge of cake and leveling surface. Carefully place upper cake layer on top of filling; repeat using remaining filling and cake layers. If necessary, dust crumbs off platter; serve or refrigerate cake, covered loosely with foil, up to 4 hours (if refrigerated longer than 2 hours, let cake stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before serving).

13 Responses

  1. What I wouldnt give for a slice of that right now. You need to submit it for my Layers of Cake event!!! Its gorgeous!

  2. Duh! You did! (I was just looking at the pretty pictures, sorry Erin! LOL)

  3. Looks delicious! German chocolate cake is one of my favs too!

  4. My mom loves German Chocolate Cake too, and every year for her birthday the rest of us would make the recipe on the Baker’s chocolate box. We’d invariably screw something up, because we were kids (plus my dad, who is far from a baker) and didn’t know what we were doing. I’ve been wanting to try the CI version for a while now. I can’t remember why they don’t use German chocolate in it, but I think they discuss the reason in their write-up of the recipe-making process.

  5. Mmmm this looks SO good. German chocolate cake is one of my favorite cakes but I have yet to master it. I agree that the frosting is so, so good.

  6. German chocolate cake is my favorite also! I used to get it every year for my birthday from my family’s favorite bakery. Maybe this year I’ll try making it myself!

  7. thanks for the review comparing it to the baker’s version – i might try this one next time instead ๐Ÿ™‚ this is my hubby’s fav cake

  8. german chocolate is my favorite cake (and what i always request on my birthday)! this looks awesome, and i’ve made this cook’s recipe myself, so i know it tastes awesome, too!!

  9. Oh delicious!!! You know I’ve never had German chocolate cake but the icing itself makes me want to make it. Must do that soon! What’s German chocolate?

  10. Hey thanks for the article about the cake. =) From the article, I guess German chocolate is a sweeter kind of chocolate like milk chocolate instead of semisweet?

  11. That’s the impression I got!

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