The Best Homemade German Chocolate Cake Recipe

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A Decadent Dessert Perfect for Any Special Occasion

German chocolate cake is somewhat of a misnomer. Instead of originating in Germany, it was actually devised by an American woman who created the recipe using Baker's German's sweet chocolate. The rich dessert caught on after the recipe was printed in a Texas newspaper, and sales of the sweet chocolate soared. Baker's still sells its German's sweet chocolate baking bars, but any sweet or semisweet chocolate will work for this cake recipe.

Total Time: 4 hours | Prep Time: 1 hour | Serves: 12 (makes one 3-layer cake)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 8 ounces sweet or semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

For the frosting and filling:

  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

For the cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 350F, and line the bottoms of three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Spray each pan with cooking spray or grease with a thin layer of butter.
  2. In a large heat-proof bowl, melt the baking chocolate with 1/2 cup of water by microwaving it for 30-second intervals on high. Stir after each 30-second interval until the mixture is smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the 4 egg yolks, one at a time. 
  5. Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and beat in the melted chocolate and the vanilla, just until incorporated.
  6. With the mixer still on low, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk. Continue with another 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the sour cream. Finally, beat in the last 1/3 of the flour mixture, just until incorporated. 
  7. Clean the electric mixer attachments. In a separate bowl, beat the 4 egg whites on high with the clean attachments until they reach stiff peaks.
  8. Using a spatula, fold the egg whites into the cake batter, then distribute the cake batter evenly among the three cake pans.
  9. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for at least 1 hour before frosting them.

For the frosting and filling:

  1. In a large, shallow saucepan, toast the pecans on medium-high heat on the stovetop, tossing frequently, until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a deep pot, combine the evaporated milk, sugar, butter and egg yolks. Warm on the stovetop over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture caramelizes, bubbles and thickens to the consistency of pudding.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the coconut, vanilla and pecans. Let the frosting stand at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture has cooled and is thick enough to spread.
  4. Using a spatula, spread the frosting between the cake layers and over the top and sides of the cake. Then serve.