german chocolate cake


I realize that what I’m going to say is a bit of a heresy.  So I’ll just be out with it.  I’m not really a big fan of Thanksgiving.  And the reason why is even more of a heresy…it’s because of the food.

I’ll wait while you all recover.

There are plenty of things I do love about Thanksgiving.  I love getting together with my family and watching the parade and cooking food.  I love that it rings in the beginning of the Christmas season.  I love that it is a celebration of all we have to be thankful for, which really is so much.

But as far as the food goes, I don’t really get it.  Sure it’s good.  And I do love me some pumpkin pie.  But if we’re really wanting to treat ourselves to a special meal on Thanksgiving day, who decided on turkey?

So you may have noticed that I haven’t been building up the Thanksgiving repertoire this month.  Basically I’ve made a chocolate pumpkin tart (which I think would be perfect at your table, by the way), and that’s about it.  And perhaps this German chocolate cake may seem to you to have nothing to do with Thanksgiving and may seem completely out of place this week.

But last week was my mom’s birthday, and yesterday we had our family birthday lunch, and I made this cake for her.  And that is what I am thankful for most this Thanksgiving.  I am thankful that I am close to my family and can celebrate birthdays and holidays with them.  I am thankful that I was able to make this cake for my mom, and I am thankful that she is such an amazing mother and friend.

So a little bit about this cake: the layers are amazing.  While I was making it, I could not stop eating the batter, because it just seemed like fluffy chocolate creme, just waiting to be licked up.  Honestly, if it wasn’t for the whole raw egg thing and the fact that this is, well, a cake batter, I think I might put the batter in a little ramekin and act like it’s some kind of pudding or mousse.  And when the layers are baked, they are still delicious.  I’m not a fan of coconut, so the frosting is not really my thing (although if I did like coconut, I can totally see how it would be delicious), so I just ate around the frosting and I can definitely vouch for the cake layer part.  And I think my family can vouch for the frosting.

German Chocolate Cake
from Southern Living Magazine October 2011

Prep Time: 30 minutes (for cake), 20 minutes (for frosting), 20 minutes (for assembly)
Bake Time: 30 minutes (for cake), 8 minutes (for frosting)
Wait Time: 2 hours (for cake), 45 minutes (for frosting)

Serves 12+

For the cake:
2 (4 oz.) sweet chocolate baking bars
1/2 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:
2 cups chopped pecans
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease 3 9-inch cake pans.  Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of each cake pan (you can trace the pan on the paper and then cut slightly inside that traced line).  Place one piece of parchment paper in the bottom of each greased pan, and then lightly grease the paper.
2. Place chocolate bars and 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe medium sized bowl.  Microwave on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until chocolate is melted, stirring at 30 second intervals.  Remove from microwave and stir until chocolate/water mixture is smooth and uniform.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together at medium speed for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add chocolate, beating until incorporated.  Mix in vanilla.  Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating at medium-low speed after each addition.  Use a rubber spatula to make sure that everything is incorporated.
5. In a medium sized bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Add to chocolate batter mixture, folding it in gently.
6. Scoop batter into prepared pans, using a rubber spatula to spread the batter out evenly.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove pans from oven, allowing them to cool on wire racks for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from pans and allow to cool 1-2 more hours.  (Now is a good time to wrap the layers in plastic and freeze them to assemble the cake later).
7. Toast the pecans for the frosting.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spread pecans out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 6-8 minutes, until lightly toasted.  Cool for about 20 minutes.
8. To make the frosting, combine evaporated milk, sugar, butter, and egg yolks in a medium-sized saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 3-4 minutes until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted.  Then cook 12-14 more minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly and thick.  It should be a dark yellow, almost caramel color.
9. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in coconut, vanilla, and toasted pecans (it will get darker here).  Allow frosting to stand about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is a good consistency for spreading.
10. If necessary, use a serrated knife to flatten out cake layers (but these tend to be pretty flat on their own).  Lay one cake layer on the cake plate and spread several spoonfuls of frosting over the top.  Add one more cake layer, spreading more frosting on top, and then the last layer of cake followed by the top layer of frosting.  If frosting is too gooey to spread on the sides, place frosting in the refrigerated until it is thickened even more and then ice the sides of your cake.

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6 Replies to “german chocolate cake”

  1. I get the whole turkey thing…except I would miss the gravy if we didn’t have it on the table.

    German chocolate cake is probably in my top three and yours looks wonderful! My husband doesn’t like coconut either….I don’t get it:-). The frosting on the german chocolate cake is the best part!

  2. Cathy–that tends to happen when you add water (or some other liquid) to chocolate after it has already melted. Here you are melting the chocolate in the water, so it keeps a smooth consistency.

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