Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Classic German Chocolate Cake ... with a Slight Twist

A classic, homemade German chocolate cake, except instead of spreading the traditional coconut pecan frosting all over the cake, I've added a new twist of chocolate ganache.
A classic, homemade German chocolate cake, except instead of spreading the traditional coconut pecan frosting all over the cake, I've added a new twist of chocolate ganache.

Classic German Chocolate Cake

German chocolate cake is the traditional cake for my son's birthday and even when given a choice of any kind of cake, German chocolate is the one he picks. It is his daddy's favorite cake too, and you gotta admit, made from scratch anybody can see why. Rich, moist chocolate cake filled and topped with a gooey, buttery, decadent coconut and pecan filling - it is just ♫delicious♫.

It is interesting to learn in the history of German chocolate cake that it is not German at all!  Instead, it was simply a reader submitted recipe to a local Dallas newspaper back in 1957.  This homemaker had baked a chocolate cake using a product called Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate, a product named after Sam German, who developed this chocolate for Baker's Chocolate in 1852. She submitted the recipe to the paper, and the cake quickly became a popular request across the country. As it's popularity grew exponentially, eventually coconut made it's way into it, and over time, the cake was named German Sweet Chocolate Cake, and eventually, simply German Chocolate Cake.

Of course, not being one who is known to leave well enough alone, while I wanted to do this one in the traditional manner - meaning not frosted all over with the buttery cake filling, but left to only being between the layers and on the top - I'm not particularly fond of the traditional way of leaving the edges of the cake naked either. So, after pondering this for a bit, I thought that with the richness and sweet nature of this cake as it stands on its own, a simple chocoate ganache, just on the edges of the cake, seemed the perfect solution.

Recipe: Classic German Chocolate Cake

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 40 min
Total time: 1 hour 10 min

Yield: About 10 to 12 servings


For the Cake:
  • 4 ounces of sweet or semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup of boiling water
  • 2-1/2 cups of cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 egg whites (reserve yolks)
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • Chocolate ganache, optional, recipe below
  • Coconut Pecan Frosting, recipe below
  • Toasted chopped pecans and chocolate curls, to garnish, optional
For the Chocolate Ganache:
  • 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
For the Coconut Pecan Frosting/Filling:
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of evaporated milk
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 2-2/3 cups of sweetened, flaked coconut
  • 2 cups of chopped pecans


For the cake, remove the eggs, butter, and buttermilk from the refrigerator and let it all come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut out rounds of parchment paper by tracing circles using the outside of a 9-inch round cake pan. Butter the cake pans and place parchment rounds into the bottom of each pan; set aside.

Roughly chop the chocolate and place into a small bowl. Pour the 1/2 cup of boiling water over the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth; set aside to cool.

Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixer bowl, using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Transfer the whipped whites to a separate bowl and wipe the mixing bowl clean. In the mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar together until fluffy. Add the reserved egg yolks in, dropping them in one at a time and blending each in before adding the next. Turn mixer to low and add the vanilla, and the chocolate.

Begin adding in the flour 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the buttermilk and until fully incorporated. Remove bowl and fold in the reserved egg whites until blended in. Divide batter evenly between the three pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Set pans on cooling racks and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper, allowing cakes to fully cool on the cooling racks.

When ready to frost the cake, set bottom layer on a serving plate or cake holder and frost the sides with the ganache, if using. Use one-third of the coconut pecan frosting on the first layer. Continue with the next two layers until all are done, finishing with the last third of the frosting on the very top. Garnish if desired.

For the ganache, roughly chop the chocolate and place into a medium sized glass bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream to scalding and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes; stir until well combined and smooth. Set in the refrigerator to allow to cool and thicken, stirring occasionally.

For the frosting, in a double boiler, or using a bowl over a heavy bottomed saucepan filled with water, over medium high heat, melt the butter; stir in the milk, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla. Reserve the egg whites for an omelet or other use. Cook and stir until mixture begins to thicken. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the coconut and pecans; mix well. Allow mixture to cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Can also refrigerate until needed, giving it a stir on occasion.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on January 19, 2010
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  1. I have to try this recipe. It looks so good!

  2. i will have to try this... stopping by from sits. have a great day.

  3. Looks gorgeous Mary, your twist sounds perfect. That filling, incredible!

  4. I sure wish I had some of that delicious cake right now...for breakfast!!!

  5. I gained five pounds looking at the picture and another five reading the ingredients. This is my favorite cake as well. Happy Birthday to your son. (Mine is coming up too -- will you make me one?)

  6. It's been a favorite in my family for years and years. And it used to be the cake my youngest son asked for on his birthday every year! I've made a lot of them!

    Super idea to ganache the sides. Will try it next time I make one.

  7. My brother who is in his "New 30" too has picked this for his birthday cake since he was a kid.

    Yours looks and sounds so much better than my mom's out of a box cake and the story is so interesting...I had no idea.

  8. this is a beautiful thing ... loving it!

  9. My mom always made me a German Chocolate cake for my birthday. After she died I stopped celebrating birthdays pretty much. A few years ago I told my Hubs why I did enjoy birthdays and about my mom's cakes and lo and behold the man makes me German chocolate cakes for my birthday now! Another reason I adore him!!

    Thanks for sharing my SITS day with me!

  10. That looks so rich and delicious. A definite splurge. Thanks for sharing!

    Stoppin' by from SITS!

  11. I clicked over here 'cuz of the nice message you left at SippitySup. I am so happy to discover that you are a new Mary! I love my regular Marys But there is always room for a new one! Besides. This cake reminds me of my Dad who always asked for it as his B-Day cake. You rock... GREG

  12. Wow- looks delish! And that is so interesting about it not actually being German!
    Thanks for visiting me on my SITS Day! Great blog you have here!

  13. I love your twist on this wonderful cake...I made this for my DIL and my husband last year for their birthdays. It's coming up real soon, again. Soooo delicious!

  14. Popped in from SITS! This will be perfect for my husband's b-day...

  15. That looks so good. I just ate lunch, but I think I’ve built up a second appetite just looking at the photos. Yum! Stopping by from SITS!

  16. Very interesting about the history of the German chocolate cake. I had never heard that before. German Chocolate Cake is one of my favorites as well! I agree, no naked cakes!! Lets cloak them with a heavy veil of ANY kind of frosting! Yours looks lushious! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Love your recipes! This one looks delicious and is also my husband's favorite cake! Will have to make it for his birthday in August!

  18. The ganache was a really nice addition Tina - but of course you can do it more traditionally too. Enjoy!

  19. Wow, homemade coconut frosting. I've always bought mine from the cake aisle. NO more of that! Thanks for the recipe.

  20. Can you make this cake in a 9x13 pan?

    1. Hi Donna! I haven't made this into a sheet cake of any kind but yes, it will work. Just make sure you don't overfill the cake pan - you'll need to allow some room for expansion rather than filling it to the rim or risk it running over in the oven. If there is any excess, put it into small ramekins for a snack later! For a 9 x 13 the timing should be roughly the same - check it first with a toothpick in the center at 30 minutes. Let us know how it turns out!

  21. Oh my goodness, this was spectacular! Today is my husband's bday and I made this cake for him and the look on his face when he saw it was priceless. The cake came out really soft and fluffy. The ganache was an excellent twist as well. My mother loves German Chocolate Cake and this would be a great surprise to have made for her next time she comes over.
    Thank you for sharing your recipe, it was very, very good :)

    1. Happy belated birthday to your husband! You're very welcome & I'm so glad to hear he enjoyed the cake! Cake mixes make a pretty good cake, but there's just something extra special about a made from scratch cake.


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