German Chocolate Cake

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Growing up there were seven people in my family, and almost every single one of us would ask for this German Chocolate Cake for our birthday.
I was super lucky, being a twin, because my mom would make both of my favorites! German chocolate cake for my sister, and carrot cake for me! What better than a little sliver of each for your birthday?
My mom always made it inside-out, with the coconut frosting in between the layers and on top of the cake, and homemade chocolate frosting covering the outside.

I am so excited to share this cake with you today. It’s been a long time coming! I’ve got a German Chocolate Cheesecake and German Chocolate Cookie Stacks, but no actual cake. Crazy! I actually first made this cake a couple years ago, but wasn’t completely happy with it so it got pushed aside until now. It’s officially ready and I can’t for you to try it!

WHAT IS GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE?
The name German chocolate cake is a little deceiving as it is not actually a German dessert and traditionally the cake is a lighter colored cake with a mild chocolate taste and the entire cake is usually covered in coconut pecan frosting.  My families version is a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting covering the cake and coconut frosting on top and in the center of the cake. This cake seriously can’t be beat, especially if you’re a chocolate lover!

WHY IS IT CALLED GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE?
German Chocolate Cake is one that I’ve seen many people ask questions about. The main one being, “Why is it called German? It’s not German.”

Totally true – it isn’t from Germany. The cake is actually named after the blend of sweet chocolate used in the cake, German chocolate, and the chocolate is named for the man that developed that specific blend. His name was Samuel German. So the cake isn’t “German” as in the country, it’s “German” as in the chocolate.

The chocolate blend is actually a sweet one. Most cocoa used in cake is unsweetened. The German chocolate isn’t quite as strong as unsweetened cocoa and therefore the cake isn’t always as chocolatey as you might expect. But its signature comes from the melted chocolate itself used in the cake, the buttermilk and the whipped egg whites.

Ingredients
Cake
Cooking spray to grease pans

  • 4 oz sweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/4 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour or 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Coconut-Pecan Filling and Topping
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar or packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk (from 12-oz can)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Steps

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch or two 9-inch round cake pans with the cooking spray. Cut three 8-inch or two 9-inch rounds of cooking parchment paper. Line bottoms of pans with the paper.
  2. Coarsely chop the chocolate. In a 1-quart saucepan, heat the chocolate and water over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is completely melted; remove from heat and cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking soda and salt until mixed; set aside. In another medium bowl, beat 2 cups sugar and 1 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy; set aside.
  4. On medium speed, beat 1 egg yolk at a time into the sugar mixture until mixed. On low speed, beat in the melted chocolate and 1 teaspoon vanilla. On low speed, beat in 1/2 of the flour mixture just until smooth, then beat in 1/2 of the buttermilk just until smooth. Repeat beating in flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk just until smooth.
  5. Wash and dry mixer beaters. In a small bowl, beat the eggs whites on high speed until beaten eggs whites form stiff peaks when beaters are lifted. Add egg whites to the batter; to fold in, use a rubber spatula to cut down vertically through the batter, then slide the spatula across the bottom of the bowl and up the side, turning batter over. Rotate the bowl 1/4 turn, and repeat this down-across-up motion. Continue folding until batter and egg whites are blended.
  6. Pour batter into pans; use a rubber spatula to scrape batter from bowl, spread batter evenly in pans and smooth top of batter. (If batter is not divided evenly, spoon batter from one pan to another.) Refrigerate batter in third pan if not all pans will fit in oven at one time; bake third pan separately.
  7. Bake 8-inch pans 35 to 40 minutes, 9-inch pans 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes. To remove cake from pan, invert onto cooling rack, then invert right side up on second cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  9. In a 2-quart saucepan, stir the 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, the evaporated milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla until well mixed. Cook over medium heat about 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until thick and bubbly. Stir in the coconut and pecans. Cool about 30 minutes, beating occasionally with a spoon, until mixture is spreadable.
  10. Place 1 cake layer, rounded side down, on a cake plate; using a metal spatula, spread 1/3 of the filling over the layer. Add second layer, rounded side down; spread with 1/3 of the filling. Add third layer, rounded side up; spread with remaining filling, leaving side of cake unfrosted. Store cake covered in the refrigerator.

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