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


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





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.


For the Chocolate Cake

  • 1 3/4, plus 2 tablespoons (225 g)  all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups, minus 2 tablespoons  (375 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (88.5 g) dark cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g)  baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 g) baking powder
  • 3 eggs, room temperature (I use extra large eggs)
  • 1 cup (240 g) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (109 g) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup(236.6 g) hot water or hot coffee
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract 

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

  • 1 1/3 cups (266.6 g)  granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (82.5 g) light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (31.25 g)  milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons  (113 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons (86.6 g)  heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.1 g) vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cup (186 g) toasted sweetened coconut 

For the Pecan Crunch (recipe from Milk Bar)

  • 1 1/2 cups (225 g) pecans, chopped
  • 1-3 tablespoons (13.6-40.8 g)  grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoons (5.6 g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (27.5 g) brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup (180 g) chocolate wafer cookies, chopped 

For the Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter, slightly chilled
  • 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 10 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.8 g)  kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (57.75 g) heavy whipping cream
  • *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra 1/2 batch.


For the Chocolate Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch or four 6-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 8-inch or 12 ounces in each 6-inch.
  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 a microwave safe bowl, heat the cream and then pour it over the chocolate to melt. Stir until the mixture is smooth and silky. If needed heat the mixture for another 20 to 30 seconds and stir until the chips are melted. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and light in color, about 2 minutes.
  3. Turn the mixer to medium-low and gradually add the melted chocolate ganache. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat again for about one minute.
  4. Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, followed by the salt and vanilla.
  5. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for 5 minutes.
  6. Frosting can be store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week.
  7. 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. 


  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 about 3/4 cup of the buttercream, followed by one half of the coconut crack filling on the cake layer and then 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

58 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?

    1. Milk powder can be found at the grocery store in the baking aisle. And the chocolate wafers can really be any brand you find. I’ve tried a few and don’t have a preference.

  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!

  7. Should the pecan crunch be really salty? Also, the coconut crack has hardened… should it be gooey? Thinking I should try them both again. Oh boy! 😉

    1. Yes the pecan crunch is salty – it balances all the sweet really well once they are all together. And just microwave the coconut filling for 10-20 seconds to soften it to put in the cake.

  8. This looks amazing 😍 is there any substitution for grape seed oil in making the pecan butter?? I’m in a pinch and can’t get any.

  9. I made this and it was absolutely divine! Thank you!! I think the fillings were too much in quantity (esp the coconut crack). I don’t feel that I got enough chocolate cake in one bite. I might increase the cake or decrease the coconut crack next time.

  10. This cake was soooooo delicious!! From the sweet and salty filling to the texture of cake with a crunchy filling. Oh my! I’ve made a few of your recipes and this was a huge hit with my family and friends. Everyone agreed this is their fav. recipe so far. Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. What type of milk powder do you use for this? Instant skim milk powder or non instant whole milk powder?

  12. Hey Courtney! I have a friend wanting me to make a GCC for her dads birthday and this looks SO good!! One question, why AP flour for this and not cake flour? Thanks!!

  13. Can this cake be completed and refrigerated or frozen for a day or two or will the layers get soggy with the fillings?

    So far all the different steps have turned out so tasty!

  14. Can’t wait to try this! Couple of questions…are the wafer cookies the rectangular ones with the chocolate cream filling or just thin chocolate cookies? Also, when you pull the filling out and add the coconut, do you mix it up and then spread it out to cool. Trying to figure out the consistency of it. Thank you!

      1. Thank you! Do you think I could use coconut oil in place of the grape seed oil? I appreciate all your help. Can’t wait to taste it!

  15. Just got through with baking the cake layers, but they only rose about half as tall as I see in the photos. I used three 8” pans, and had fresh baking powder too. Not sure what I did wrong, but it smells incredible. Just won’t have much cake scraps after leveling 😅

  16. Hi there! I have a question about the chocolate wafer cookies used in your German Chocolate Cake. Are you talking about the rectangular wafer cookies that come in strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla flavors? Or is it the little circular vanilla wafer cookies that also come in chocolate flavor? Hope that makes sense. TIA!

  17. Hi!!! Love love love your recipes! And I appreciate you responding to all questions out there 🙂
    Few questions for you… How long will the cake layers last in the fridge wrapped in plastic foil? If frozen, how long would it take to thaw for a 6in cake? One fully assembled and frosted, how long will the cake last in the fridge? Thank you!!!

  18. Hi! Do you think I could add some rum to the crack filling?? If so, how much should I add?
    My brother is wanting some rum incorporated haha

  19. I have a couple of questions. Is there any malt in this or was that just the example of another cake you like? Can I use malt powder in place of powdered milk? Also do I just use coconut from the package or do I need to toast it in the oven before I add it to the filling? I’m super excited to make this. I made your chocolate chip cookie cake for my birthday and it was amazing.

  20. I also have another question. What is the texture of the coconut filling supposed to be like? Is it supposed to be smooth with only the texture of the coconut? Mine is sugary and grainy because the sugar crystallized. Is that right?

  21. I have a question about the coconut crack, when you add in the coconut, do you stir it in and what consistency should it be when cooled? Is it like a spread? I can’t wait to make this for my dad’s birthday! Thanks!

  22. Hi, Courtney!

    I made this cake over the weekend and it turned out great. I had to make a couple of adjustments. The baking time for the cake appears to be incorrect. I typically bake an eight inch layer cake 28-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Also, both fillings seemed to have a little to much salt. I will adjust the amount of salt next time.