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German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

What a great big cake! It was so tall, the cover for my cake plate was too short. I had to tape the cover from my Tupperware cake taker to the stand in order to take it to my mom’s house. We were celebrating my brother’s birthday and this is his favorite cake. I have made German Chocolate Cake for him almost every year since the mid-1980’s. I usually bake this cake with 9-inch pans. For whatever reason, I decided this time to use 8-inch pans.

The extra height posed a small problem. I ran out of frosting. I already increased the recipe from the one in a cookbook to completely cover the cake as I usually bake it (9-inch). Why would anyone not want frosting on the sides? That is how it is in the cookbook. Insane. At least it is for this frosting lover. Anyway, no worries though. I just made more.

A slice of German Chocolate Cake

This is a classic version of German Chocolate cake. The recipe below is slightly adapted from the Betty Crocker’s Chocolate Cookbook published in 1985. I increased the frosting and reflected my method of preparation. Speaking of the cookbook, mine is splattered with chocolate throughout the whole thing. I have put this book to lots of good use over the years.

Chocolate is a big hit with my family. German Chocolate for my brother, Chocolate Pecan Torte for my mom, and brownies for my niece and nephews. What flavor of cakes or desserts are popular with your family?

German Chocolate Cake

A recipe for a classic German chocolate cake with coconut-pecan frosting.
Course Dessert
Cuisine German
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 people
Author Renee


For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 bar sweet cooking chocolate 4 ounces, broken into pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 4 egg whites beaten to stiff peaks

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter 1 1/2 sticks
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 bag sweetened flaked coconut 7 ounces
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans


For the cake:

  1. In a small bowl, pour boiling water over chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 round 8- or 9-inch cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper. Set pans aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy using an electric mixer on high speed. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Beat in cooled chocolate and vanilla on low speed. Mix in flour alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, until batter is smooth. (Do not over-mix). Fold in egg whites.
  5. Divide the batter equally in the pans. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. 35 to 40 minutes for 8-inch pans. 30 to 35 minutes for 9-inch pans. Cool cakes in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely on racks.

For the frosting:

  1. In a medium saucepan, add sugar, evaporated milk, butter, egg yolks, and vanilla. Cook over medium heat for 12 minutes or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Stir in coconut and pecans. Cool until of spreading consistency.

To assemble the cake:

  1. Spread frosting between layers, on top, and on sides of the cake.

Recipe Notes

You may need more frosting if using 8-inch cake pans. If so, increase quantities to: 2 cups sugar, 2 cups evaporated milk, 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, 7 egg yolks, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 10 ounces coconut, and 2 cups chopped pecans.

Recipe Rating

Paula @ Vintage Kitchen

Saturday 20th of October 2012

I´ve never made german chocolate, is one of my pending things to bake. Such neat layers! Your brother must´ve been happy!

Angie @ Big Bear's Wife

Wednesday 17th of October 2012

German Chocolate Cake is the only thing I can eat Coconut in and I love it to death! Man is it good, I haven't had it in forever though!

Fiona Maclean

Monday 8th of October 2012

I love ALL kinds of chocolate cake. This one does look very very special...I wonder who I can find to make it for me!

Jennie @themessybakerblog

Friday 28th of September 2012

Wow! That is one beautifully tall cake. The frosting sounds divine. Too bad you don't live closer.

Sawsan (Chef in disguise)

Thursday 27th of September 2012

I was actually looking for this recipe to make for my dad's birthday it sounds like a wonderful cake for a celebration