German Chocolate Cake is a sweet, rich, and delicious layered cake that actually isn’t German. It has its roots in the mid-19th century in America when baker Samuel German developed a dark, baking chocolate which was subsequently named after him – Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate.

Recipes for the dish didn’t appear until the mid-20th century, when a “recipe of the day” appeared in the newspaper Dallas Morning News. The actual recipe was created by a homemaker who lived in Dallas, George Clay, who stuck to the traditional German’s Sweet Chocolate for the recipe. This gave the final result a unique result, a richness that was unmatched, and popularity for the recipe exploded.

Today, it’s an American dessert staple – so much so that June 11th is German Chocolate Cake Day in the United States.

Yeah, we tend to just make up holidays for things.

German Chocolate Cake

When you assemble the cake, the filling should be cool or cold (or room temperature, at the very warmest). To be time-efficient, first make the filling, then use the refrigeration time to prepare, bake, and cool the cakes. The toasted pecans are stirred into the filling just before assembly to keep them from becoming soft and soggy.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 people

Ingredients

  • Filling
  • 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
  • Cake
  • 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa sifted
  • 1/2 cup water boiling
  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • 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).

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