German Chocolate Cake Recipe- amazing made from scratch chocolate cake topped with a rich, creamy coconut pecan frosting. A perfect cake for any special occasion!
In my opinion, the best thing about this cake is the german chocolate frosting. I’ve loved it since I was a kid, and I remember making it with my mom. She would let me scrape the pan clean, and that coconut pecan frosting was oh so tasty!
My family loves it just as much now. German chocolate brownies are a favorite dessert at our house. In fact, my husband and oldest son often request them for birthdays. I figured it was time I went a little more fancy and made a German chocolate layer cake.
You can use a cake mix, but I liked the density of this homemade chocolate cake. It held up really well to the thick frosting, and was perfectly chocolatey.
How to make German Chocolate Cake
To skip my tips and just see the detailed recipe card, just scroll to the bottom of the post.
- all purpose flour (I prefer to use unbleached flour.)
- unsweetened cocoa powder (I just used regular Hershey’s cocoa powder.)
- baking powder
- baking soda
- milk (I used 2%, but whole or skim will work just fine.)
- eggs (I use large eggs for all of my baking.)
- vegetable oil (or another oil that is liquid at room temperature)
- vanilla extract
- boiling water
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat in the milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add boiling water and mix till smooth. Pour batter into two prepared 9″ cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or till toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
How to Make German Chocolate Frosting
- evaporated milk (Not to be confused with sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk has no added sugar.)
- egg yolks
- butter (I use regular salted butter in all of my recipes.)
- vanilla extract
- sweetened flaked coconut
This frosting is different from most frosting recipes because it doesn’t call for powdered sugar.
Combine evaporated milk, sugar, and egg yolks in a heavy saucepan. Whisk till smooth, then add a cube of butter. Cook and stir over medium heat till thick.
Cool for a few minutes, then stir in vanilla extract, flaked coconut and chopped pecans. Toasting the pecans first is tasty, but not required. Cool completely. (Frosting will continue to thicken as it cools.)
After both your cake and frosting are cool, place one layer of cake on a plate stand and spread half of the frosting to the edges of the cake. Add the remaining layer of cake, then spread the rest of the frosting on top of the cake. Serve immediately or cover.
What makes a German chocolate cake German?
It isn’t actually a German recipe. In the 1850’s an American baker named Samuel German developed a baking chocolate bar for the Baker’s Chocolate Company. A Texas baker named Mrs. George Clay submitted a recipe to her local newspaper for Chocolate Cake with coconut pecan frosting using Baker’s German chocolate. It was an instant hit, and the rest is history!
Does German chocolate cake need to be refrigerated?
No, you don’t need to refrigerate it. This cake keeps really well, and will last for 2-3 days at room temperature if you cover it tightly. A large cake dome works the best. It is actually even more moist the second day because the yummy coconut pecan frosting soaks into the cake.
If refrigerated, the frosting actually turns thick and isn’t as easy to eat. So if you need to refrigerate the cake to make it last longer, let it come to room temperature before serving.
German chocolate frosting is so sweet that I don’t think the cake needs extra chocolate frosting. But if you want it, you can definitely frost the sides.
If you really love chocolate frosting, you could also spread some frosting on each layer of cake before adding the coconut pecan frosting. It’s totally up to you!
Looking for more tasty German chocolate desserts? Check these out:
Love coconut? Give these recipes a try:
Best German Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
German Chocolate Frosting
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9" round cake pans liberally with non-stick spray. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment, then spray the parchment with non-stick spray.
- Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and oil. Beat with a hand mixer till well combined. Slowly pour in the boiling water and beat till smooth.
- Divide batter between two pans. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool for 8-10 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks. Cool completely.
- Spread half of the frosting onto one of the cakes. Add the second layer, then spread the remaining frosting on top.
- Whisk together milk, egg yolks, and sugar in a heavy saucepan till smooth. Add the butter. Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened, about 10-12 minutes.
- Let cool for about 10 minutes, then stir in the vanilla, coconut, and pecans. Cool completely before frosting the cake.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 528Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 490mgCarbohydrates: 68gFiber: 3gSugar: 48gProtein: 7g