Literally the Best Thing Ever: German Chocolate Cake

So as you can tell from the title, I really like German Chocolate Cake, which shouldn’t surprise you because pretty much everything I make I somehow incorporate coconut into it. But when I say this recipe is “Literally the Best Thing Ever,” believe me. Go make this. Become German (actually, did you know that German Chocolate Cake isn’t even German? Yeah, kind of like French Fries aren’t even French. I’ll explain this later in the post). And by the way, this is my go-to dessert recipe, it isn’t all that complicated and it gives insanely delicious results. So next time you have a birthday party, company coming over, or you just really want to bake a cake, make this.

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So as I was saying, German Chocolate Cake is actually not German; it is, in fact, like all great things, American (sorry, I’m pretty biased towards America). But where in the United States did it exactly originate? The answer is: Texas (where everything is bigger and better)! But why does the name of this scrumptious dessert include the word “German”? Simply because it was originally made with German chocolate! That’s right, German Chocolate Cake is German-Chocolate Cake (say the “German” and “Chocolate” with less space in between to symbolize that it is German chocolate, not German cake – it’s Texas cake. No, you don’t have to pronounce it any differently; just remember this fact and when you make this delicious dessert to wow all of your friends with this awesome history lesson).

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So anyway, to make this cake you have to make two layers of chocolate cake (don’t worry, you don’t have to buy special German chocolate for this).

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And of course, you are also going to have to make that ridiculously delicious coconut filling (which I could literally consume by the bucketful).

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And then all you have to do is stack and shovel it into your pie-hole (which in this case would actually be a cake-hole)!

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So you may be wondering why I didn’t incorporate the pecans (must be toasted; makes a major difference in the entire cake; TOAST THE PECANS!!!) into the coconut filling. This is simply because I was making half of the cake nut-free for my brother because he is allergic to nuts. If the people you are serving this to don’t have nut allergies, then I strongly suggest incorporated the toasted pecans into the filling (seriously, it is much better). But if you have a nut allergy, feel free to leave out the pecans, because the coconut filling is quite frankly the food of gods. You also may notice that I give a lot of different options regarding dairy products in the cake. Usually, a German Chocolate Cake will use buttermilk for the cake and heavy cream for the filling. I, however, like using full fat coconut milk because besides making the cake dairy-free (safe for my brother); it also adds extra coconut flavor that really makes the cake something special. Yum!

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German Chocolate Cake w/ Coconut-Pecan Filling

Adapted from Baking Illustrated

Serves 12

German Chocolate Cake:

  • 1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour/white whole-wheat flour/whole-wheat pastry flour, + more for dusting pans
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/3 c. full-fat coconut milk w/ 1 tsp lemon juice/apple cider vinegar or 1/3 c. buttermilk/plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 Tbsp (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter/Earth Balance buttery sticks, softened but still cool
  • 1-1/4 c. sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temp.
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Coconut-Pecan Filling:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter/Earth Balance buttery sticks, softened but still cool
  • 1 c. full-fat coconut milk/heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 c. chopped pecans, toasted
  • 2 c. lightly packed shredded coconut

 

  1. For the cake: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position & heat the oven to 350°. Generously grease 2 9-in. round cake pans & cover the pan bottoms w/ rounds of parchment paper. grease the parchment rounds & dust the pans w/ flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. Mix the cocoa & water until smooth.Then stir in the coconut milk & vanilla.
  3. Beat the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer at med.-high speed until smooth & shiny, ~30 sec. Gradually sprinkle in the sugar; beat until the mixture is fluffy & almost white, 3-5 min. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating 1 full min. after each addition.
  4. Whisk the flour, baking soda, & salt in a med. bowl. W/ the mixer at the lowest speed, add ~1/3 of the dry ingredients to the batter, followed immediately by ~1/3 of the cocoa mixture; mix until the ingredients are almost incorporated into the batter. Repeat the process twice more. When the batter appears blended, stop the mixer & scrape the sides of the bowl w/ a rubber spatial. Return the mixer to low speed; beat until the batter looks satiny, ~15 sec. longer.
  5. Divide the batter evenly btwn the pans. W/ a rubber spatula, spread the batter to the pan sides and smooth the tops. Bake the cakes until they feel firm in the center when lightly pressed & a toothpick comes out clean or w/ just a crumb or 2 adhering, 20-25 min. Transfer the pans to wire racks; cool for 10 min. Run a knife around the perimeter of each pan, invert the cakes onto the racks, & peel off the paper liners. Reinvent the cakes onto additional racks; cool completely before frosting.
  6. For the filling: Mix the egg yolks, sugar, & salt in a med. saucepan; beat in the butter, then gradually beat the cream & vanilla into the mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is puffy & just begins to thicken & the temperature reaches 180° on an instant-read thermometer, 20-25 min. Pour the mixture into a med. bowl & cool to room temp. Stir in the pecans & coconut.
  7. To assemble: Place 1 of the cake layers on a serving plate upside down. Spread 1/2 of the filling over the cake. Place the 2nd cake over the filling upside down. Spread w/ the remaining 1/2 of the filling. Cut the cake into slices and serve.
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