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German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

Did you know that German Chocolate Cake isn’t German at all? It’s true. Its name comes from a baker named Sam German. Sam German was a baker who developed the dark chocolate baking bar in 1852 for the Baker’s Chocolate Company. 

German Chocolate Cake

This particular German Chocolate Cake is a bit untraditional. Most just have the coconut-pecan filling sandwiched between the cake layers, but this version takes it up a notch. In my opinion, the chocolate frosting is the finishing touch for this popular American cake!

German Chocolate Cake

Cake Layers

You can use 8-inch round cake pans or 9-inch round cake pans. I prefer 8-inch and is what I used for this recipe. If you use 9-inch your cake will bake slightly quicker than 8-inch cake rounds and won’t stand as tall.

German Chocolate Cake

How To Measure Boiling Water

This recipe uses 1/2 cup boiling water. The best way to measure this accurately is to fill a saucepan with more than 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, use a heat proof liquid measuring cup and measure out 1/2 cup.

German Chocolate Cake

Coconut-Pecan Filling

Anytime I use pecans in baking, I always toast them. It may seem like an unnecessary step but it really intensifies the flavor and the pecans won’t get toasted once they are already in your baked good.  

Coconut-Pecan Filling can also be made up to 2 weeks in advance, sealed in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.

How To Toast Pecans

Toast pecans in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until they start to smell toasty! 

German Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Frosting

I prefer my frosting to be extra smooth. To help with this I sift the powdered sugar in this recipe before adding to the frosting. (Same with frostings that use cocoa powder.)

German Chocolate Cake

Plan It Out

As always…Plan It Out! I can’t stress enough how planning ahead of time helps to keep me organized and on task.

Day 1: Bake the cake layers. Cake layers can be made up to 3 days ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap, and stored in an air tight cake container at room temperature. 

Day 1: Prepare the Coconut-Pecan Filling. This can be made up to 2 weeks in advance so this is up to you and your schedule. For me I made this the same day I made the cake layers. Store filling in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.

Day 2: Prepare the frosting and assemble the cake!

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Italian Cream Cake

Overnight French Toast with Maple-Pecan Syrup

Classic Pecan Pie

Adapted from The Cake Book

German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Homemade German Chocolate Cake filled and topped with coconut-pecan filling and frosted with chocolate frosting.




  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups pecans, toasted and chopped


  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 large eggs, separated at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract



  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, egg yolks and butter and cook over medium heat, and stir constantly until the butter had melted and the mixture thickens and bubbles. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes longer.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, coconut and pecans. Cool for about 1 hour or until the mixture is spreadable, before using.


  1. Place an oven rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of 2 8-inch round cake pans and spray pans with nonstick baking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt to combine.
  3. Combine the chocolate and boiling water in a bowl and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and set aside to cool.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and vanilla extract and set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and beat on high speed until well blended and is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the cooled chocolate and mix until blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with the sour cream mixture in two additions and mixing just until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and set aside.
  6. In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer beat the egg whites at low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and mix until blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the whites are fluffy and begin to form soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to high and whip until the whites until they are glossy and smooth and form stiff peaks. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the chocolate batter one-third at a time. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and smooth the tops.
  7. Bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Invert each cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.


  1. Put the chocolate in a medium stainless steel bowl and place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the bowl from over the pot and set the chocolate aside to cool.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat at high speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the cooled chocolate at low speed, mixing until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Increase the speed to high and beat until the frosting is slightly aerated, about 1 minute. Use the frosting immediately or cover tightly and set aside at room temperature for up to 3 hours.


  1. Place one of the cake layers on a cake board and spread 1 1/2 cups of the filling on top of the cake. Top with the other cake layer (smooth side up).
  2. Set aside about 1 1/2 cups frosting for piping in a piping bag fitted with a 1M piping tip. Using a small offset spatula, smooth the remaining frosting on the sides of the cake, filling in any gaps between the layers. Spread the remaining filling on top of the cake, leaving about 1/2-inch from the edge free of filling for piping. Pipe frosting on the top and bottom edges of the cake.


Cake layers can be made up to 3 days in advance, wrapped in plastic wrap, stored in an air tight cake container at room temperature.

Assembled cake can be stored up to 1 day in an air tight cake container at room temperature or stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1346Total Fat: 85gSaturated Fat: 44gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 36gCholesterol: 313mgSodium: 431mgCarbohydrates: 136gFiber: 7gSugar: 99gProtein: 14g

*Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary.*

Did you make this recipe?

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Did you make this recipe? I’d love to see it! Tag The Cake Chica on Instagram @thecakechica1 #thecakechica1

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Friday 31st of October 2014

This looks amazing... Question! Is the temp/time you gave for the oven for fan assisted?


Friday 31st of October 2014

Thank you! The temps and time is for a conventional oven.


Sunday 5th of October 2014

Oh my...this looks beyond delicious!! I like the concept of German chocolate cake, but like you, I've been disappointed by store-bought varieties all too often. I've actually never made my own, and now I'm wondering why...looking forward to trying this!

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