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German Chocolate Cake

Light in texture and rich in flavor, this moist, German chocolate cake recipe is a slice of heaven! It is perfectly paired with coconut pecan frosting and creamy, heavenly chocolate swiss meringue buttercream! A true labor of love, but oh SO worth it!
5 from 21 votes
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Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Serves: 24 servings
Calories: 645kcal

Ingredients

For the German Chocolate Cake

  • 4 ounces (114 g) Baker's German Chocolate melted
  • 4 ounces (114 g) water warmed
  • 4 large (68 g) eggs (yolks and whites separated) room temperature
  • 12 ounces (340 g) All-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (227 g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 14 ounces (397 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces (227 g) buttermilk
  • 4 ounces (114 g) vegetable oil

For the Coconut-Pecan Filling

  • 4 egg (72 g) yolks
  • 12 ounces (340 g) evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces (284 g) granulated sugar or brown sugar for a richer flavor
  • 6 ounces (170 g) unsalted butter
  • 7 ounces (198 g) flaked coconut
  • 7 ounces (198 g) pecans chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 8 ounces (114 g) fresh egg whites
  • 16 ounces (454 g) granulated sugar
  • 24 ounces (454 g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 4 ounces (114 g) Baker's German chocolate melted and cooled to 90º
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • Whisk Attachment

Instructions

German Chocolate Cake Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC).
  • Prepare three 8″x2″ cake pans with cake goop or another preferred pan spray.
  • Melt your chocolate in a heatproof bowl in 15-second increments until just melted. Do not overheat or you could burn your chocolate.
  • Then, add your warm water to the chocolate and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • Next, place the room temperature egg whites in a separate bowl with the whisk attachment and whip until you reach firm but moist peaks. They shouldn’t look broken or crumbly. Set aside.
  • Combine the room temperature buttermilk and the vegetable oil and then set aside.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt and then set aside.
  • Then, in the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the room temperature butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy in color.
  • Add in your egg yolks one at a time, letting each mix in fully before adding in the next.
  • While mixing on low, add in your melted and cooled chocolate and vanilla and then mix until it’s combined.
  • Next, while mixing on low, add in 1/3 of the flour mixture, and then 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat two more times with the remaining flour and buttermilk.
  • Gently fold in your egg whites until they are blended.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared pans.
  • Bake the cakes immediately at 350ºF (177ºC) for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out from the center clean.
  • Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes inside of the pan before flipping them out.
  • Flip the cake onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely. I chill my cakes before handling them, or you can wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them to trap moisture in the cake.
  • Thaw the cake on the countertop while it’s still wrapped before frosting.

Coconut-Pecan Filling Instructions

  • In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the evaporated milk, egg yolks, and vanilla over medium heat until blended.
  • Add in your butter and sugar and continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken (this will take about 12 minutes). Whisk continuously or you risk overcooking your eggs. The mixture will be thick and golden brown when it’s ready.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and fold in your coconut and pecans.
  • Transfer the filling to a heat-proof bowl and cool it completely. You can make this a day ahead and refrigerate it for up to 4 days.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Bring 2″ of water to a boil in a medium saucepan then reduce the heat until it’s just simmering.
  • Next, place your metal or glass mixing bowl on top. The bowl should not be touching the water.
  • Then, pour the egg whites and sugar in the bowl and whisk occasionally to dissolve the sugar and keep the egg whites from cooking. Once the mixture reaches 110ºF or you can no longer feel any granules of sugar in between your fingers, it’s ready.
  • Place the bowl on your stand mixer and whip on high speed (setting 4 on my Bosch Mixer, setting 8-10 on a KitchenAid) until you reach VERY stiff peaks. This can take between 10-15 minutes. The tips should stand straight up when you touch them and the meringue should feel very thick and dense.
  • Pour your meringue out into a shallow dish and pop it into the fridge for about 10 minutes to cool the meringue. You can also put your entire bowl of meringue into the fridge, but it will take longer to cool. If you don’t cool the meringue it will melt your butter. Then you’ll have buttercream soup. You can also place a large bag of ice under the bowl as you’re mixing to cool the meringue down faster.
  • Reduce the speed to low, then slowly add in your butter in small chunks (remove this part about the salt, chocolate and vanilla) followed by your salt, melted and cooled chocolate, and vanilla extract.
  • Whip it on high for 8 to 10 minutes until the color is light and fluffy. Give it a taste and if it still tastes buttery, keep whipping.
  • Reduce the speed to low again and then drizzle in your cooled chocolate, salt, and vanilla and mix until it’s smooth.

Notes

If you don’t want to fuss with making SMBC then you can use my easy chocolate buttercream instead
Important Things To Note Before You Start
  1. Bring all your ingredients to room temperature or even a little warm (eggs, buttermilk, butter, etc) to ensure your batter does not break or curdle. 
  2. Use a scale to weigh your ingredients (including liquids) unless otherwise instructed (Tablespoons, teaspoons, pinch etc). Metric measurements are available in the recipe card. Scaled ingredients are much more accurate than using cups and help ensure the success of your recipe. 
  3. Practice Mise en Place (everything in it’s place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
  4. Using Baker's German chocolate will really set your recipe up for success. You can buy Baker's German chocolate from most grocery stores like Target or Kroger in the baking aisle.
  5. If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you will want to use one of my preferred buttermilk substitutions
  6. Make sure you allow the meringue to cool down before adding butter! This is very important. 
  7. Chill your cakes before adding the filling and frosting. Learn more about decorating your first cake. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 645kcal (32%) | Carbohydrates: 61g (20%) | Protein: 5g (10%) | Fat: 44g (68%) | Saturated Fat: 27g (135%) | Cholesterol: 80mg (27%) | Sodium: 201mg (8%) | Potassium: 152mg (4%) | Fiber: 2g (8%) | Sugar: 48g (53%) | Vitamin A: 944IU (19%) | Vitamin C: 1mg (1%) | Calcium: 64mg (6%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)