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4.44 from 46 votes

German Chocolate Cake

A traditional homemade German Chocolate Cake made from scratch with layers of moist and delicious chocolate cake and topped with lots of a rich coconut and pecan frosting!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cake, dessert, german chocolate cake
Servings: 12
Calories: 623kcal
Author: Joanna Cismaru

Ingredients

Cake batter

Coconut-Pecan Topping

  • 12 oz evaporated milk (1 can)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter unsalted
  • 2 2/3 cups sweetened coconut shredded or flaked
  • 2 cups pecans , coarsely chopped

Instructions

Cake Batter

  • Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  • You will need 3 cake pans, each 8 inches in diameter. Cut out 3 parchment paper circles that will fit inside the cake pans. Place the parchment papers inside and using some melted butter or cooking spray, butter each pan well.
  • In a large size bowl or the bowl of your mixer combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix. With the mixer still on low speed, slowly add the coffee and continue mixing until everything is well combined and smooth. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula and mix as needed. Pour the batter into the 3 prepared pans, equally.
  • Bake the cake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until baked through. Do the toothpick test, insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean, it's done. Let the cake cool in the pans for about 30 minutes then turn them out onto a cooling rack or a cutting board and cool completely. To get nice flat layers, cut the top of the cakes (the dome part) with a very sharp knife.

Coconut-Pecan Topping

  • In a medium heavy saucepan combine evaporated milk, and vanilla, sugar and butter; cook on medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly so mixture does not burn. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans. Cool to room temperature.
  • To assemble the cake, place one cake on a serving platter and spread about 1/3 of the frosting evenly. Repeat with the 2nd cake layer and frosting, then place the last cake and spread the rest of the topping. Drizzle with chocolate syrup if preferred.

Video

Notes

Cover the cake and refrigerate it. You can also leave it on the counter if it's covered, but I would recommend keeping this cake in the fridge for up to 4 days.
You can also make this cake in 2 9 inch cake pans and then cut each one in half so you'll end up with a 4 layer cake. Alternatively, you can use a 9x13 inch pan as well and cut in half to have a 2 layer cake.
The coffee is added to this chocolate cake because it adds depth to the flavor of the cake. The coffee will actually enhance the chocolate flavor. Although there is a cup of coffee in this cake, you will not taste the coffee.
Buttermilk is also added in this chocolate cake to add depth to the cake while adding very little fat. It also helps tenderize the gluten in the batter, therefore you'll end up with a softer texture and fluffier cake. The buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to create bubbles of carbon dioxide, it is these bubbles that give your cake volume and you end up with a light and tender cake.
If you're out of buttermilk or prefer not to use it, although I strongly recommend it, you may use 1 cup of milk plus 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Stir the two together then let it sit for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes you'll notice your milk is curdled, which is what you're looking for. You may also substitute with 1/4 cup of milk and 3/4 cup of yogurt.
The coconut pecan topping uses evaporated milk instead of just regular milk because you end up with a creamier consistency, and it also has less fat content than cream. Evaporated milk is just milk where half the water has been boiled off. 
If you find the coconut pecan topping too runny, just add a tbsp of cornstarch and mix it in well. Make sure to let the topping cool completely before using it. Also if you refrigerate the cake after you're done assembling it, it will set and the topping will harden as the cake sits in the fridge.
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.

Nutrition

Serving: 196g | Calories: 623kcal | Carbohydrates: 65.12g | Protein: 8.53g | Fat: 39.4g | Saturated Fat: 16.855g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8.742g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11.595g | Trans Fat: 0.524g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 491mg | Potassium: 455mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 42.9g | Vitamin A: 1000IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 2.9mg