This Homemade German Chocolate Cake With Coconut Pecan Frosting is three tiers of perfection. The fluffy sponge has just the right amount of chocolate flavor to carry the sweet and crunchy Pecan-Coconut frosting.
A German Chocolate cake is one of those baked goods that just doesn’t translate to a box mix. This extra-special cake is my husband’s favorite. I don’t bake often, but this is a cake that I take the time to make homemade. Not only is the sponge perfectly light, but the coconut pecan frosting is sweet, rich and extra gooey.
My grandmother has made this recipe for ages and I pulled it right out of her recipe box.
Make this cake!
This is a beautiful 3-tier cake that feeds a large group.
This Homemade German Chocolate cake recipe makes the lightest chocolate sponge you have ever eaten. (Look for my expert tips below)
The Pecan Coconut icing comes together perfectly in 15 minutes on the stove and sets for a deliciously rich and crunchy cake topping.
Once you try this recipe, you will never go back to a box again.
German’s Chocolate- When buying the chocolate bar, you should be able to find a Baker’s German Chocolate. The German chocolate called for in this recipe is not actually chocolate made in Germany, but a special baking chocolate named for the man who developed it. This chocolate is 48% cocoa and has extra sugar for a sweet baking chocolate.
Cake Flour- Cake flour is extra fine flour that has been bleached. Sifted cake flour is easily absorbed into wet ingredients and has less protein which produces less gluten to make a more tender sponge cake.
Sweetened Coconut Flake- Be sure to grab sweetened coconut flake and not plain flakes. The cake itself is not overly sweet, but the frosting is extra sweet and rich to make this a truly decadent dessert.
Chopped Pecans- I always buy whole pecans and give them a rough chop myself. I find the chunks of the packaged chopped pecans are a little too big and uneven. I like small pieces distributed a bit more evenly.
- Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Pull out all of your ingredients so that you have soft butter and room temperature eggs.
- You need three 9 inch round baking pans and parchment paper. Spray each pan with cooking spray. Trace the shape of your pan onto the parchment paper and cut three identical circles to line the bottom of the pans.
- Boil ½ cup of water on the stove. Once the water comes to a boil, shut off the heat and melt your chocolate bar.
- Sift cake flour together with baking soda and salt. Set the bowl of dry ingredients aside.
- Separate the four eggs and set aside as well. Place egg whites into a medium sized mixing bowl as you will be whipping the eggs into stiff peaks before mixing them into your batter.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together. This means mix together until the butter and sugar are well integrated and soft.
- Add the egg yolks to the butter and cream one at a time. Mix on a low speed until they are fully mixed.
- Add buttermilk and cooled melted chocolate slowly and mix well.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients a little at a time. Make sure to mix on a slow speed so you don’t send flour across the kitchen.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they foam up. Then increase the mixer speed to high and beat until they have grown in size and form stiff peaks. (I use a hand mixer for this whole recipe rather than my stand mixer. I find it easier to clean the beaters and move between bowls rather than wash bowls for the stand mixer.) Add the stiff eggs to the batter.
- Gently fold the stiff egg whites into the chocolate cake batter. Folding just means using a spatula to gently turn the batter over the egg whites. Do not stir or push the eggs whites down.
- Pour even amounts of batter into each lined cake pan. Use a spatula to push the cake batter out to the edges. Bake for 20-25 minute in a 350 degree oven. To be sure the cake is fully cooked insert a toothpick into the center of each cake. If the toothpick comes away clean (no wet batter), then they are done.
- Once the cakes are cooked, let them sit in the cake pan for 5 minutes.
- Turn the cooked cakes out onto a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper and let them cool.
- Leave the cakes upside down on the cooling rack. This will help level out the cake top a bit.
- Remove the parchment and let cool while making the frosting. I never cut away the uneven top of this cake. I find that I can level the cake out with frosting and that I tend to make things less level and neat when I try to cut this cake because it is so soft and spongy.
- Next, assemble all of the Coconut Pecan Frosting ingredients. Put all of the ingredients into a small saucepan.
- Cook the frosting on medium heat. Stir the ingredients the whole time to make sure the butter melts and get combined into the frosting. Let the frosting come to a low boil. Continue stirring the mixture and let cook for 5 minutes or until it begins to thicken.
- After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let the frosting cool for a bit. As the frosting cools it will thicken up.
- Get the plate or stand you want to display your Homemade German Chocolate Cake on. This will not be movable once it is assembled. Start assembling the layers by placing a spoonful of frosting on the plate and placing the first cake on top.
- Place approximately ⅓ of the frosting on the center of the first cake. Use a knife or spatula to work the frosting out to the edges.
- Do the same for the second and third layers. You should have a beautiful three tiered cake perfect for any party.
This cake has a light chocolate flavor and the iconic Coconut Pecan Frosting. Recipes often use Baker’s brand German chocolate which is double sweetened.
The egg whites in this recipe add air to the batter. When incorporated properly, the stiff egg whites create an especially light and springy sponge cake.
For this recipe I grease my pans with plain cooking spray. I don’t butter and flour the sides of the pan for this recipe because the flour leaves white residue on the edges of the cake which will not be covered.
Beat your egg whites until they form stiff peaks. The egg whites go from clear to completely white and hold their shape when you move the beaters through them.
The egg whites make this cake batter extra light. If you know the air out of them by mixing the cake will be more dense. The egg whites might even separate and you can end up with strips of cooked egg in the batter.
Be Patient. Turn the bowl a quarter turn after each fold and working around the bowl until the eggs are fully integrated.
Once you have the batter in the pans, do not shake or bang the pan on the counter. This knocks the air out of the batter and can cause your cake to collapse on itself when baking.
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Homemade German Chocolate Cake
- (3) 9 Inch Cake Pans
- 3 Mixing bowls
- 2 ½ Cup Sifted Cake Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 4oz German’s Sweet Chocolate Bar
- ½ Cup Boiling Water
- 1 Cup Butter (2 sticks)
- 2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 4 Eggs Separated
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- 1 Cup Buttermilk
Coconut Pecan Frosting
- 1 Cup Evaporated Milk
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 3 Egg Yolks
- ½ Cup Butter (1 stick)
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- 1 ⅓ Cup Coconut Flake
- 1 Cup Chopped Pecans
German Chocolate Cake instructions
- Pre-Heat oven to 350°.
- Prepare the three 9 inch cake pans by spraying with cooking spray and lining with parchment paper.
- Bring ½ Cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Once water comes to a boil turn off the heat and add 4oz bar of German’s Sweet Chocolate bar to the water and gently stir to melt. Set melted chocolate aside for a later step
- Sift together 2 ¼ Cups cake flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream 1 cup (two sticks) of butter, 2 cups sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla together until the butter is soft and sugar is well integrated.
- Separate eggs. Place egg whites in a mixing bowl and set aside.
- Add egg yolks 1 at a time. Beat mixture well each time.
- Pour melted chocolate and buttermilk in slowly and mix until smooth.
- Next, add sifted dry ingredients a little at a time and mix on medium speed. Make sure to scrape down the bowl to ensure the flour is fully mixed.
- Beat egg whites on high until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold into cake batter.
- Divide the batter evenly over the three pans. Use a spatula to push batter out to the edges of the pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove cakes from the oven and let sit in the pan for five minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.
- Let cakes cool and assemble cakes. (German Chocolate Cake Frosting recipe below)
- Place a spoonful of frosting on the center of a cake plate and set the first 9 inch round in the center of the plate.
- Spoon ⅓ of the frosting into the center of the cake and use a knife or spatula to spread to the edge of the cake.
- Repeat this process until all the layers are stacked neatly atop each other with a generous layer of frosting on each.
Coconut Pecan Frosting Instructions
- Place 1 cup evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, ½ cup (1 stick) of butter, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup chopped pecans, 1 ⅓ cup sweetened coconut flake, and vanilla into a small saucepan.
- Place on the stove and cook on medium heat. Stir in the butter until it is melted then bring the frosting to a boil for 5 minutes stirring continuously.
- The frosting should go from very runny to clinging to the spoon at the end of cooking.
- Let cool for 15 minutes before frosting the german chocolate cake rounds.
- See frosting instructions above