German Chocolate Cake Recipe
A delicious homemade German Chocolate Cake recipe topped with homemade coconut pecan frosting. This cake has been officially dubbed a “family favorite.”
If you are looking for a smaller cake, then I’d recommend my 6-Inch German Chocolate Cake rather than adapted this recipe to fit smaller pans. If you are looking for an even smaller option, then German Chocolate cupcakes are for you!
Moist German Chocolate Cake Recipe
If I had it my way, there would be equal frosting to cake ratios on this cake. Unfortunately, that may have been a tad overboard for most of you.
Nonetheless, this homemade German Chocolate Cake recipe will be one you turn to time and time again. It’s a classic! And a dang good one.
How to make German Chocolate Cake
- In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In a second bowl combine the Dutch process cocoa powder and chopped chocolate. I used semi-sweet chocolate but feel free to use German sweet chocolate.
- The difference between semi-sweet and German sweet chocolate is their sweetness levels. German chocolate is sweeter and has a milder chocolate flavor than semi-sweet chocolate. If you want a super sweet cake, use the German chocolate.
- Pour boiling water into the bowl of cocoa powder and chocolate, cover the bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, whisk the chocolate mixture until smooth.
- For the boiling water, fill a small saucepan with water, bring to a boil and then measure the 1/2 cup of boiling water.
- Now, cream the butter and granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. This will take 2-3 minutes.
- By creaming the butter and sugar together, the sugar is aerating the butter – these air bubbles expand when in the oven and contribute to leavening the cake (helping it rise).
- Proper creaming also results in a lighter and tender cake.
- Add the eggs, beating well after each addition.
- Continue by adding the vanilla and the melted chocolate mixture.
- Finally, alternate adding the dry ingredients and sour cream, starting and ending with the flour.
- Dry, sour cream, dry, sour cream, dry.
- Adding the ingredients in alternating increments ensures the you don’t over mix the cake batter. Over mixing will result in a tough cake and potentially a sunken cake center.
Divide the cake batter
Divide the batter amongst 2 – 9 inch round cake pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes.
Once cakes are cool, gently slice the two cakes horizontally to create 4 cake layers. Yes, 4 layers. And don’t worry, it’s really not hard to slice a cake horizontally. I promise!
German Chocolate Cake Frosting
Toasted pecans and sweetened coconut are the signature ingredients in this highly addictive frosting. And lucky for the both of us, this frosting only takes about 10 minutes to make.
How to make German Chocolate Cake Icing
- Whisk 4 egg yolks and 1 can of evaporated milk in a medium sized saucepan.
- To the saucepan add granulated sugar, butter, brown sugar, and salt.
- Bring this mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil this mixture for about 6 minutes, the mixture will slightly thicken.
- Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the sauce to a large bowl. Stir in the vanilla and sweetened coconut. Let cool at room temperature until just warm, about 20 minutes.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.
Pro tip: This coconut pecan frosting will stay in the fridge for up to 3 days. When ready to use, simply remove it from the fridge and bring it to room temperature, add the toasted pecans and then frost the cake.
- Note, the pecans haven’t been added to the frosting yet. We hold them out for a reason. Add the pecans into the frosting before you frost the cake. Doing this keeps the pecans from getting too soft.
All that’s left to do is frost the cake! Slather a generous amount of frosting between the 4 layers of cake and then dig in!
Note: I didn’t frost the sides of the cake. If you want to cover the edges you can 1.5X the coconut pecan frosting recipe and you should have enough to cover the sides. Or use a chocolate buttercream frosting recipe to cover the sides, it’s up to you!
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
For information on storing and freezing cakes, check out my How to Store and Freeze Cakes guide!
German Chocolate Cake
- 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate - finely chopped
- 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter - softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar - packed
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, whisk the egg yolks and evaporated milk. Once combined, whisk in the granulated sugar, butter, brown sugar, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly about 6 minutes. (The mixture will slightly thicken).
- Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the sauce to a large bowl and stir in the vanilla and coconut. Let cool at room temperature until just warm, about 20 minutes. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours (or up to 3 days).
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2- 9 inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, and then grease and flour the parchment paper and sides of the pans. Set aside.
- In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a second small bowl combine the cocoa powder and chopped chocolate. Add the boiling water to the bowl, cover the bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, whisk the chocolate mixture until smooth. Let the chocolate mixture cool to room temperature.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the vanilla and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the chocolate mixture, and beat again (about 30-45 seconds). Scraping down the sides of the bowl so that everything is evenly combined.
- With the mixer on low alternate adding the flour mixture and sour cream, starting and ending with the flour. (Flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour).
- Divide the batter evenly amongst the two pans.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove cake pans from the oven and place on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the pans (discard the parchment) and let cool completely on wire rack.
- Remove the coconut frosting from the fridge and stir in the pecans.
- Once cake is cool, slice the two cakes horizontally to create 4 layers.
- Place a cake layer on a cake stand, add 1 cup of the frosting to the top of the cake layer and spread to the edge of the cake. Add another cake layer to the top of the frosting, and continue adding 1 cup of the frosting until you’ve used all of the cake layers and the frosting is gone. Keep the sides of the cake bare. *