What Is German Chocolate?

by Michelle Powell-Smith

German chocolate can refer to a type of baking chocolate, to a type of cake or to where the chocolate was manufactured. There is a commonality among the three, as they are typically all a mild and quite sweet chocolate. Learning more about chocolate of all types can improve your baking and assist you in choosing the right chocolate product for a cake, cookies or pudding. You will also find it easier to select recipes, whether you want a traditional German chocolate cake or the right chocolate for a batch of cookies.

German's Sweet Chocolate

In 1852, American Sam German invented a sweetened baking chocolate as a convenient alternative to the unsweetened chocolate previously available. German worked for Baker's Chocolate company. In time, German's chocolate became German chocolate and is still sold today. This baking bar is composed of chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin and flavorings.

German Chocolate Cake

German chocolate cakes have been made since the 1920s. Layers of mild chocolate cake are complemented by a dense, sweet, sticky frosting featuring both coconut and pecans. The sides of the cake are not iced, allowing the layers of cake and frosting to be seen. German chocolate cake became quite popular in the late 1950s, when the recipe appeared in a food column in Dallas, Texas.

Chocolate from Germany

Germany produces a variety of chocolates, both common and gourmet. The most common German chocolate is a smooth, milky chocolate with a low percentage of cocoa. Gourmet German chocolates may offer milk chocolate with a higher cocoa percentage. Most of these have an excellent, creamy mouth feel.

Using German Chocolate

As with any chocolate, consider the sweetness, milkiness and creaminess before using it to cook or bake with. Typically, German chocolate from Germany can be substituted in any recipe calling for milk chocolate, whether used solid or melted. Chill well before chopping if necessary. Baker's German chocolate is a semi-sweet chocolate and can be used in any recipe calling for semi-sweet chocolate.

German Chocolate Cake Variations

While traditional German chocolate cake is a layer cake, you can also make German chocolate cupcakes, brownies or even German chocolate cheesecake. These options can allow you to enjoy and experiment with the chocolate, caramel, coconut and pecan flavors traditional to this recipe.

About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.