German Chocolate Cake is a favorite everywhere, but contrary to popular belief, it did not originate in Germany, nor does it have any ties to the country of Germany; it is an All-American creation. According to information from Baker’s Chocolate, “German Chocolate Cake was originated in the U.S. at Walter Baker & Company. In 1852, Sam German created a sweet baking bar named in his honor (BAKER'S German’s Sweet Chocolate). Then in 1957, a Texas woman sent a cake recipe using German’s Sweet Chocolate to a newspaper in Dallas, causing a spike in the sales. Hence, the birth of German Chocolate Cake!”
While many variations of the original German Chocolate Cake have been published, and any chocolate cake with coconut pecan topping is dubbed “German Chocolate Cake,” the recipe purported to be the original is easy to prepare and delicious. (If you’ve had a piece of so-called German Chocolate Cake from a bakery with a slathering of overly sweet chocolate frosting made from shortening and a coconut and nut topping made from margarine, then you haven’t tasted real German Chocolate Cake). The original recipe doesn’t call for chocolate frosting, only a rich coconut pecan topping which is sandwiched between the layers and on top.
The following recipe is adapted from the recipe published on the Baker’s site; I’ve streamlined the directions slightly. The site lists “butter or margarine” in both the cake and topping recipes. I doubt the original allowed margarine as a substitution, and I do not list it as an alternative in my adapted recipe. I can’t see any point in taking the time to bake something only to use substandard or tasteless ingredients; the real butter taste comes through in this cake, and the use of margarine would make it taste cheap.
The pictured cake for this article is baked in a sheet pan; although it is much prettier presented as a layer cake, the sheet pan version is easier.
Real German Chocolate Cake
4 ounces Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
4 egg yolks
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 7 ounce package Baker's Angel Flake Coconut
1 1/2 cups Planter's chopped pecans
- Spray 2 9" round cake pans with non-stick spray, line with parchment, then spray again. Alternately, spray the pans with Baker's Joy, or grease and flour. You may also use a 9 x 13" dripper pan, 2 12-cup cupcake pans (rather than spray, line with baking cups), or 1 standard bundt-cake pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Place the chocolate and butter in a microwaveable container and cook on high power 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until the butter is melted; let the mixture sit for 2 minutes, then stir until well combined.
- Scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the sugar, combining well, then the eggs.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt; add to the chocolate mixture alternately with the buttermilk, with the mixer on low speed.
- When combined, turn the mixer to medium speed and beat until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake 30-35 minutes for 9" layers, 50-60 minutes for a 13 x 9" dripper pan, 15-20 minutes for cupcakes, or 60-75 minutes for a bundt cake.
- Remove from the oven, let sit on a cooling rack in the pan(s) for 10 minutes, then invert onto the cooling rack to cool thoroughly.
- Prepare the Topping: Whisk together the egg yolks, evaporated milk, and vanilla in a saucepan; stir in the sugar and butter. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it is thickened and amber colored. Remove from the heat and add the coconut and pecans.
- Assembly: Place a 9” round upside down on a serving plate; spread with half of the topping.
- Top with the second layer right-side up and spoon the remaining topping over the top.
- For a 13 x 9” cake, spread the topping evenly over the top of the cake
- For cupcakes, divide the topping mixture evenly, spreading on top.
- For bundt cake, slice the cake horizontally through the middle and spoon half of the topping over the cut side; replace the top of the cake and spoon the remaining topping over, allowing it to run down the sides.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 598 Calories from Fat 312
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 52% Protein 5% Carb. 43%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 35 g
Saturated Fat 18 g
Cholesterol 146 mg
Sodium 355 mg
Total Carbohydrate 64 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 38 g
Protein 7 g
Vitamin A 18% Vitamin C 1% Calcium 0% Iron 6%