German Chocolate Cake

Today is a really exciting day in Sweet Pea’s Kitchen. My husband is in Tampa, Florida taking his Dermatopathology Board Examination. After his year of a Dermatopathology fellowship, today is the day he takes his boards to become board certified! 😀 After taking the eight-hour exam he flies home to Peoria tonight. I wanted to make something special to celebrate.

German Chocolate Cake is his favorite cake ever and I know that he will be super excited to find this incredible cake waiting for him when he walks through the door. I have been looking forward to making this cake for a while. I was planning to make it for his birthday in October, but I think finishing his board exam is more than a reason to celebrate!

Four moist chocolate layers filled with a coconut and toasted pecan filling. Both cocoa powder and high-quality chocolate are used in this cake, making it incredibly chocolatey and decadent.

German Chocolate Cake

Yield: 12 to 16 servings


For the Coconut Pecan 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)

For the Cake:
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa, sifted
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
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


To make the filling, in a medium saucepan, whisk yolks; 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 a heat proof bowl, whisk in vanilla, then stir in coconut. Cool until just warm, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
To make the cake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant and browned, about 8 minutes; set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, combine chocolate and cocoa; pour boiling water over the chocolate and let stand to melt, about 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth; set aside until cooled to room temperature.
Spray two 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high straight-sided cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Spray paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda.
In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugars, and salt at medium-low speed until sugar is combined, 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. 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 just 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 (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 28-30 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.
To assemble the cake, stir toasted pecans into chilled filling. With a serrated knife held so that blade is parallel with work surface, use a sawing motion to cut each cake into two even layers. Starting with first cake, carefully lift off top layer and set aside. Place the bottom layer on a serving plate and using an 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. 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).

Source: Cook Illustrated, January 2005

One Year Ago: Mushroom and Spinach Quiche  

35 Responses to “German Chocolate Cake”

  1. #
    Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide — September 13, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

    One of my all-time favorites. Looks great!

  2. #
    Created by Christi — September 13, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

    That looks amazing.. I haven’t tried german choc cake from scratch yet, looks like it is going on my list

  3. #
    jennknee — September 13, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

    Wow!! Congratulations to your Husband! A great reason to celebrate! :) That cake looks magical. Now I’m definitely craving cake…so much for my “no sugar” decision today!! hehe

  4. #
    Erin — September 13, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    My boyfriend loved German Chocolate cake! Mostly for the frosting/filling.

  5. #
    The Farmers Wife — September 13, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

    Congrats to your hubby! Have fun celebrating! And this cake is definitely the way to do it! This looks so decadent and delicious!

  6. #
    Bluejellybeans — September 13, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

    Congrats to both of you. Your husband for the board and you for this incredibly good looking cake! :)

  7. #
    sportsglutton — September 13, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

    Looks fantastic. Can I have the left overs? :-)

  8. #
    Amy — September 13, 2011 @ 4:05 pm

    Congrats to SweetPea Hubby! Very exciting. I’ve had German Chocolate Cake on my “to-do” list for a while…this recipe looks like a great one!

  9. #
    Janet — September 13, 2011 @ 4:15 pm

    Looks awesome. Congrats to your husband. Knew we must be kindred spirits. My hubby is a Derm guy too plus a fellow midwesterner. Sure he’ll love his congratulatory dessert!!!!

  10. #
    Brenda — September 13, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

    You have the most incredible recipes. Thank you for sharing them!

  11. #
    chocolateandcarrots — September 13, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

    Congratulations to your husband! :-) That cake looks fabulous!

  12. #
    happywhennothungry — September 13, 2011 @ 8:00 pm

    Congrats to your hubby! I’m sure he enjoyed this beautiful cake!

  13. #
    Caroline — September 13, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

    GREAT reason to celebrate…I’m sure your husband absolutely loved this cake. It’s gorgeous and looks so moist. I wish him the best of luck with his board exam results!

  14. #
    teacher-chef — September 13, 2011 @ 8:12 pm

    CONGRATS to you and your family. THANK YOU for making this for your husband as my family was just having a discussion how they wanted me to make German Chocolate Cake – guess its a sign!

  15. #
    kaleygrace — September 13, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

    Oh my, that looks like some moist amazingness!!! Aaah, serious cravings going on here.

  16. #
    Mary — September 13, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

    This is a gorgeous looking cake. I’m new to your blog, so I took some time to browse through your earlier posts. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you feature here and I’ll definitely be back.I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  17. #
    Geet — September 13, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

    Congratulations to your husband. Your cake looks delicious. German choc cake is one of my kids favorite. Looking forward to making this :)

  18. #
    Anita Menon — September 14, 2011 @ 3:20 am

    Looks fantastic. All the very best to your husband and so sweet of you to make his fav chocolate cake.

  19. #
    ChgoJohn — September 14, 2011 @ 4:44 am

    Such a big day at the Sweet Pea Household! Congrats! And that cake! Oh, how I love German chocolate cake! There are none better.

  20. #
    microwavegoddess — September 14, 2011 @ 7:43 am

    Sounds delicious! So pretty too :)

  21. #
    Felicia — September 14, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    I just made German Chocolate Cake for my hubby birthday and turn out delicious but yours I have to try it for another occasion : looks amazing !!! Congrats to your husband !!!

  22. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts — September 14, 2011 @ 11:30 am

    Congrats to your husband! This cake looks like a great way to celebrate!

  23. #
    Sasha @ The Procrastobaker — September 14, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

    Ive wanted to try making this cake for such an incredibly long time but knowing you made it for such a wonderful occasion means this recipe must really be good :) So this will be the one for me I think! Congratulations to your husband, a great achievment!

  24. #
    Jen at The Three Little Piglets — September 14, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    Congratulations to your husband! What a great accomplishment – for both ot you. And what a perfect way to celebrate; it looks incredible.

  25. #
    Nicole@HeatOvenTo350 — September 14, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

    I’d be excited to come home to that, too. I love German chocolate cake, and this looks like the king of all of them. Congrats on your husband making it to the boards!

  26. #
    Sandi — September 15, 2011 @ 8:49 am

    Nice way to celebrate,congratulations! Always love to see hard work pay off :)

  27. #
    briarrose — September 15, 2011 @ 9:53 am

    I would kill for a slice. I know he will be thrilled when he sees this cake. :) Beautiful job.

  28. #
    freshandfoodie — September 15, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

    Oy. This looks so good. German chocolate is one of my favorite cakes, however I never make it. I’m gonna bookmark this recipe for a rainy fall day. It looks amazing.

  29. #
    Sandra — September 15, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

    Congratulations to your husband on his accomplishment. This cake looks so good, four layers with that heavenly filling, what more could you ask for. I like the addition of sour cream in the cake batter. This is one of my youngest son’s favorite cakes, he’s going to love it!

  30. #
    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — September 17, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

    Congrats to your hubby! This is my husband’s favorite cake, too. He almost always asks for one for his birthday.

  31. #
    Choc Chip Uru — November 10, 2011 @ 12:24 am

    I too have made an insane German chocolate cake – I do believe these cakes are destined for greatness… :)

  32. #
    raquel — January 5, 2012 @ 11:40 pm

    As I am browsing on all of your recipe index my eye caught this recipe and it took me for a while on reading on how to make this…it seems the ingredients are easy to prepare and I also excited to make this. I love baking and eating cake that’s why I can’t resist this recipe…I cannot lie this cake looks really great. =)

  33. #
    Jo — February 2, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious. Would love for you to share your gorgeous pictures with us at

  34. Pingback: German Chocolate Brownies for Our 4th Wedding Anniversary | Sweet Pea's Kitchen

  35. Pingback: Sweet Pea's Kitchen » Snickerdoodle Scones

Leave a Comment