German Chocolate Cake


Oct 25

German Chocolate Cake – Rich, dark chocolate cake layers, filled with a buttery, toasted coconut filling and pecan wafer crunch, topped with a classic chocolate buttercream.

German Chocolate Cake #cakebycourtney #germanchocolatecake #chocolatecake #chocolatefrosting #milkbar #cake #easychocolatecake

Converted

I never thought I’d say this about a German Chocolate Cake, but I’m so excited about this cake! I’ll be honest, it’s one cake I’ve never understood the hype about. I know some people love it, but I just couldn’t jump on the bandwagon. For me, the texture of the pecans and raw coconut were an immediate turn off. I’ve also never tried a German Chocolate Cake that had decent chocolate cake layers. They always seem bland and dry.

I ended up making this cake because a good friend told me it was her husband’s favorite and asked if I’d come up with a recipe for it. Of course I accepted the challenge 😉

Inspiration from the One and Only

I just knew, however, that I needed to make some changes to the classic version. I started to look around at recipes and didn’t see anything that really caught my attention until I turned to Milk Bar, one of my favorite bakeries in New York City. (They share a few of their recipes online, but you need the cookbook to get ALL the good stuff.)
German Chocolate Cake #milkbar
Picture source: Popsugar
Per usual, Christina Tosi went off the beaten path and created a unique twist on an old classic (which they actually call “German Chocolate Jimbo Cake”). Christina’s version has layers of chocolate cake, chocolate malt soak, chocolate fudge sauce, crack pie filling, coconut, pecan wafer crunch and chocolate malt frosting. Sounds pretty incredible, right?!
While all of these elements make my heart skip a beat with pure joy, I didn’t think my cake needed to be this extravagant. Instead, I took inspiration from Christina’s cake and came up with my own version.

My German Chocolate Cake

My starting point for this cake, and any chocolate cake I make, was my dark chocolate cake. I know most people like milk chocolate cake layers for a German Chocolate Cake, but I’m just not a fan. Dark chocolate has such a rich flavor and is never too sweet.
I also used my chocolate buttercream in this cake. It’s a classic I can’t live without.
German Chocolate Cake #cakebycourtney #chocolatecake #germanchocolatecake
From Christina’s cake, I loved the idea of the coconut and pecan fillings – just not with raw coconut and pecans. So, I toasted my coconut and used the Milk Bar “crack” pie filling. It’s so good! I suggest making a double batch. You’ll be snacking on this all day! (It’s actually a great apple dip!)
I was also blown away with the pecan crunch filling. Instead of using raw whole pecans, Christina whips up a toasted pecan butter and tosses it with crushed chocolate wafer cookies. So, you still get the nutty flavor without the gritty texture of a raw nut. Perfection!
German Chocolate Cake #cakebycourtney #chocolatecake #germanchocolatecake
I really loved how this cake turned out and will be adding it to my list of favorites! Just make sure you have a class of milk nearby with this one!

German Chocolate Cake

Prep

Cook

Inactive

Total

Yield One 3-layer, 8-inch cake

Rich, dark chocolate cake layers, filled with toasted coconut filling and pecan wafer crunch, topped with a classic chocolate buttercream.

Ingredients

For the Chocolate Cake

  • 1 3/4, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups, minus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs, room temperature (I use extra large eggs)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup hot water or hot coffee
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

For the Coconut Filling (recipe slightly adapted from Milk Bar)

  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cup toasted sweetened coconut 

For the Pecan Crunch (recipe from Milk Bar)

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1-3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate wafer cookies, chopped 

For the Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, slightly chilled
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 10 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

For the Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch round pans with nonstick spray, line the bottoms with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Stir to combine.
  3. In a separate medium sized mixing bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, hot water or coffee and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix for about one minute, until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for about 30 seconds.
  5. Evenly distribute the batter between the pans, about 16 ounces of batter in each.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool for 5 -10 minutes before inverting them onto cooling racks to cool completely.
  7. Once cooled, you can level the cakes, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the freezer until ready to use. If you're storing the cake layers longer than a week, also wrap each layer in foil. 

For the Coconut Crack

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9x13" with with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, and salt. Mix on low speed until evenly blended.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add the melted butter and stir for one minute until all the dry ingredients are wet.
  4. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low speed for about one minute, until any of the white streaks from the cream have completely blended into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg yolks, stirring them into the mixture until combined. Be careful not to over beat (aerate) the mixture, but certain the mixture is glossy and homogenous.
  6. Pour the filling into the prepared pan and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. You want the filling to be firmer and more set toward the outer edges of the baking pan but slightly jiggly and loose in the center. If the filling is still jiggly all over, give it another 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Let the filling cool slightly and add the toasted coconut. The filling can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

For the Pecan Crunch

  1. Heat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Pour the pecans on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 15 minutes.
  3. In a food processor or blender, puree the warm pecans with grapeseed oil, salt and brown sugar.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine the pecan butter with the crushed wafer cookies. The crunch can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days or up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. 

For the Chocolate Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and light in color, about 2 minutes.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, gradually stream in the cooled, melted chocolate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another minute.
  3. Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, followed by the salt and vanilla.
  4. Add the heavy cream and then turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for 5 minutes.
  5. Frosting can be store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week.
  6. When you're ready to frost the cake, bring the frosting back to room temperature and mix by hand with a wooden spoon to push out all of the air pockets. 

Assembly

  1. Level each cake layer with a cake leveler.
  2. On a cake board, spread a dollop of frosting to act as "glue" to the cake. Place the first cake layer, top side up, on the center of the cake board. You will have a little edge of the cake board showing around the cake.
  3. Spread one half of the coconut crack filling on the cake layer, followed by one half of the pecan crunch.
  4. Place the second cake layer, top side up, on the fillings and repeat step 3.
  5. Place the final cake layer, top side down, on the second layer of fillings. Apply a thin coat of frosting around the entire cake to lock in the crumbs. Place the cake in your freezer for 10 minutes to set the frosting.
  6. Remove the cake from the freezer and continue to frost the cake with the remainder of the frosting.
  7. If you want to pipe swirls or any decorate design on the cake, I suggest adding another half recipe of the chocolate frosting to what is listed above. 

Courses Dessert

Cuisine Cake

17 thoughts on “German Chocolate Cake

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  1. Oh, gosh, so many things I’m not doing right. I assumed 9×13 glass dish and my crack pie is taking forever to bake. Did I ruin it? It also took forever to toast my sweetened coconut. I gave up before it reached the brown I was thinking of. Is there hope?

  2. The crack filling is taking me over double the time you said, is that ok? I’m using a glass dish, does that make a difference?

    1. Yes that’s ok. How are your cakes cooking? If those are taking longer than my suggested time too, you may have to check your oven temperature. It may be running cooler than it tells you on the screen.

  3. I’ve made your delicious cakes and they always turned out perfect, but I’m not sure about the coconut crack in this recipe. After about 13 minutes I removed it from the oven and the butter appeared to separate from the rest of the mixture. I mixed it with a spatula and then it looked OK. Should I try again prior to adding the coconut? Was the baking at 325 degrees so the eggs were cooked?

  4. Hi Courtney,I stumbled upon your website while idly surfing through Instagram and boy, am I glad I did! Your flavor combinations are just brilliant and very innovative. I saw your post on the german chocolate cake and I just had to see your filling recipe. I’m not sure if we get grapeseed oil in this part of the world (I live in the Middle east). So I was wondering if you could suggest me a substitute for this oil?

  5. THIS sounds amazing! My very first cake was a German chocolate cake for my grandpas birthday since it’s his fave, I should try this one out for him too!

  6. A few questions on the German chocolate cake recipe…. is milk powder the same as powdered milk? Also, the chocolate wafer cookies, are those the ones with the waffle like print on them? Or are they something else? Thanks!