Monday, August 3, 2015

German Chocolate Cake

I can't believe it's August already!!! Where have the last six months gone???

In case you don't recognize that cry, it's the anguished disbelief of a writer with a September 1st deadline.

Yes, September 1st.

But in spite of my LOOMING deadline, I do have a life! One of the things that popped up a week or so ago is an invitation to be a featured baker at a local fundraiser in November.

What does that mean? It means I get to share a "Showcase Dessert!" Which also means I've been spending some time going through some of my favorite recipes - I need to choose one this week, so I can submit the recipe and practice, practice, practice making it.


This German Chocolate Cake is one of my favorite recipes, and one I'm considering for the showcase. I shared it here at the cafe a couple years ago, but it's just as good as it ever was. What do you think? Should this recipe be in the running?

German Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup Ghiradelli 60% Cocoa Chocolate Chips
1/3 cup water

1 2/3 cup cake flour (Swan's Down, Wondra or Soft as Silk)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs, separated
2/3 cup buttermilk or sour milk

Coconut Frosting - recipe follows

Making a cake from scratch is a worthwhile skill to learn. It isn't hard, but it does take time and care.

The results, however, are worth every minute you spend :)

If you've ever watched a cooking show on television, you know how the cooks always have their ingredients pre-measured before they start cooking. Don't they make it look easy?

Well, we're going to do the same thing - it's prep time!

Let's take this step-by-step:

1) Bring the butter to room temperature in the mixing bowl.

2) Melt the chocolate with 1/3 cup water - I use the microwave. Thirty seconds is usually enough. Stir until it's nice and smooth.
3) Measure the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium size bowl. Stir to combine.
4) If you don't have buttermilk, make sour milk by combining 1 teaspoon lemon juice with your 2/3 cup milk. Let sit for five minutes.

5) Prepare your cake pans. I grease them with coconut oil, then lay a piece of parchment paper on the bottom.
6) Separate your 3 eggs. Put the yolks in a small dish, and reserve the whites.

7)Preheat your oven to 350°.

Now that the preliminaries are done, it's time to start making the cake.
Cream the butter for 30 seconds, and then gradually add the sugar and vanilla. Beat until fluffy.

Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.
Beat in the melted chocolate.
Add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately, about 1/3 of each at a time, beating well after each addition.

Now comes the part that makes a lot more dishes to wash.... You need to beat the egg whites.

In case you don't know this, egg whites and fat of any kind don't mix, so you need to use clean beaters and a clean bowl to beat them.

Transfer your cake batter to a large bowl, and wash your mixer's bowl and beaters. 
(The reason my mixer looks so strange is because it's a Bosch. Don't laugh. I can make six loaves of bread at a time with this puppy! He's a workhorse. Makes great smoothies, too, with his blender attachment.)
Now that your mixer is clean, beat those egg whites until stiff peaks form. 
Fold the egg whites into your cake batter, and then pour the batter into the pans.
Bake in a 350° oven for 30-35 minutes.
If you want a refresher on the method for making a cake from scratch, there's another version - a different birthday and a different cake - here.

After the cake is baked, and while it's cooling, it's time to make the frosting. This is what makes this a German Chocolate Cake!

Coconut-Pecan Frosting
or, if you don't have Pecans - just Coconut Frosting
1 egg
2/3 cup evaporated milk (a 5 1/3-ounce can)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
dash salt
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a saucepan, beat the egg slightly. Add the milk, sugar, butter and salt. Over medium-low heat, stir until the butter is melted. Cook and stir for twelve minutes more, or until the frosting is thickened and bubbly. Stir in the coconut and pecans. Cool thoroughly.
This is enough frosting for the tops of two 9-inch layers, or one 9"x13" pan.

We've all seen commercial German Chocolate Cakes with rich, brown frosting. Well, mine always turns out this lovely yellow color. Maybe I could add food coloring, or cook it differently so the sugar browns somewhat...but it tastes so good, I hate to mess with it.

Frost the top of one cake layer, put the second layer on and use the rest of the frosting on it. Don't frost the sides of the cake - German Chocolate Cakes don't have frosting on the side.

But, you know, this cake is so rich, you won't miss that extra frosting at all.

And it's so tasty, I wasn't able to get a picture without parts missing!


  1. Oh yum -- I think this recipe is a definite winner. wish I lived close enough to be a taste tester. LOL. Love the idea of coconut frosting on it. That's gotta be a great combination. Question about the frosting though -- you use regular sugar, not icing sugar?

    Happy deadline writing. I know I'll be a happy reader once it gets published.

    1. Good morning, Kav!

      Yes, you use regular sugar in the frosting. It's because this is a cooked frosting - that makes all the difference.

      And the deadline....the only thing keeping me sane is that the story is coming along nicely. This is the second book in the Revell trilogy, due to be released in September 2016.

  2. Ah, what a torturous way to begin my Monday.

    Have I mentioned that German Chocolate cake is my absolute favorite kind of cake? I would be more than happy to sample for you, Jan. :)

    Seriously, I don't know what else you're considering, but this is a winner for sure.

    Could the difference in color be because some people use brown sugar in the icing?

    1. The other dessert I'm considering is a chocolate swirl cheesecake.

      You can't go wrong with chocolate!

      This fundraiser is held the Monday before Thanksgiving and the desserts are sold through a silent auction. So most are themed toward Thanksgiving or Christmas - and some of the showcase desserts have been fabulous. Presentation is key!

      I'm not sure what the difference in the color of the icing is. It could be brown sugar instead of white. Another possibility is that the sugar should be caramelized a bit before mixing the icing. I'm going to try that the next time I make this cake.

  3. Wow, wish I'd seen this Friday. I baked German chocolate cake for guests we had for dinner. However, I cheated and used a box of Betty Crocker. LOL I didn't have this recipe.

    But it still turned out great. I didn't have any oil so used butter instead. That made it really taste good. smile

    Thanks for sharing this. Next time I'll look this up.

    1. The Betty Crocker boxed mix is a good one. It's what I used to use before I found this recipe. My husband loves German Chocolate Cake, so I often make it for his birthday!

      And butter makes ANYTHING good! :)

  4. Congratulations on the invitation!! This looks AMAZING!!