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German Chocolate Cake

Scott Phillips

Servings: 16

German Chocolate Cake isn’t actually German. It’s named for Samuel German, the creator of a chocolate bar for Baker’s Chocolate Company that became the original cake recipe’s star ingredient back in 1957. German’s chocolate contains only 46% cacao, which makes for a subtly flavored cake. This ultimate recipe for German Chocolate Cake uses a moderate amount of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate—up to 70%—for deeper flavor. You can use any semisweet or bittersweet chocolate you like, as long as it contains 70% cacao or less. Any more than that could adversely affect the cake’s texture.


For the cakes

  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pans
  • 4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (up to 70% cacao), coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

For the coconut-pecan filling

  • 7 oz. (about 2 cups) sweetened, shredded dried coconut
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1-1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 590
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 280
  • Fat (g): 31
  • Saturated Fat (g): 16
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10
  • Cholesterol (mg): 170
  • Sodium (mg): 360
  • Carbohydrates (g): 72
  • Fiber (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 8


Make the cakes

  • Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Grease the sides of three 9×2-inch round cake pans with butter and line the bottoms with parchment circles.
  • Put the chocolate in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Let stand for several seconds and then whisk until the chocolate is dissolved. Set aside until cool to the touch before mixing the batter.
  • Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper. Whisk the eggs in a small measuring cup.
  • Beat the butter for a few seconds in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed. Add the sugar in a steady stream and then beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl as necessary, until the mixture is lightened in color and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Still on medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time, taking a full 1-1/2 minutes to add them all. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and beat just until blended. With the mixer turned off, add a quarter of the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed just until incorporated. Add a third of the buttermilk and mix until blended. Repeat, each time adding another quarter of the flour, then a third of the buttermilk, until the last of the flour is added. Scrape the bowl as necessary and mix each addition only until it is incorporated.
  • Divide the batter among the pans and spread it evenly. Bake, rotating the pans and swapping their positions, until the cakes just start to pull away from the sides of the pans and spring back when very gently pressed with a finger, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the cakes cool in their pans on a rack for 10 minutes.
  • Run a knife or small spatula around the edges to separate the cakes from the pans. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and peel off the parchment. Cool completely.

Make the filling

  • Spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350°F, stirring every 2 minutes, until golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Scrape the toasted coconut onto a sheet of waxed paper and let cool completely.
  • Whisk the egg yolks with the evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a heavy-duty, nonreactive 4-quart saucepan. Add the butter. Set over medium heat and stir constantly with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom and corners of the pot. When the mixture starts to boil, adjust the heat so that it boils actively but not furiously, and cook, stirring constantly, until golden and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the coconut and pecans. Let cool completely.

Assemble the Cake

  • Put one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread a third of the filling over the top of the cake, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Top with a second cake layer. Spread with half of the remaining filling. Put the third cake layer on top and cover it with the remaining filling. Leave the sides of the cake exposed. Serve at room temperature.

Make Ahead Tips

The cake will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Let it come back to cool room temperature before serving.


Rate or Review


  • Niria | 01/04/2018

    I made this for a friend party, wao!!! the frosting is delicious. I personally do not like too much sweet but this is a keeper for me. Thank you Alice

  • bellaginger | 04/24/2017

    I've never had German chocolate cake before making this recipe. The cake was so moist and the frosting was delicious! It was a hit at my office Birthday celebration - not a piece was left!

  • Stardust4300 | 12/09/2016

    This is the perfect German Chocolate Cake. I found it to be easier than some of the reviews. Mixed the cake put it in the oven made the filling and they were cool enough to put together about the same time. It's moist not to chocolatey and the filling is quite delicious! Well done, I am having it again at Christmas when I visit family. Definitely one of my favorites.

  • red_over_white | 12/12/2013

    I made this for my dad's birthday cake, as he loves German chocolate cake. It did not disappoint. The cake itself is moist and tender. (I have used the cake recipe by itself since in a chocolate mousse layer cake). I loved the texture of the frosting with the crunch of the pecans and chewiness of the coconut. (I am a sucker for coconut and pecans though). I did use some dark chocolate buttercream to frost the sides of the cake for a prettier presentation, maybe that offset the sweetness, but I thought it was perfect anyway. Kept well in the fridge for several days too.

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