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A German Chocolate Cake.

German Chocolate Cake

My German Chocolate Cake recipe starts with a rich chocolate cake base, which is smothered in a homemade frosting spiked with pecans and shredded coconut. Prepare to meet your new favorite layer cake.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 16 servings (1 slice each)
Calories 591kcal


For the coconut frosting:

For the chocolate frosting:

For the Devil's Food Cake:


To make the coconut frosting:

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine egg yolks, evaporated milk, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter. Bring to boil and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is slightly thickened, about 6 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and transfer to a medium bowl. Add vanilla and stir constantly until mixture has cooled slightly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. Stir in pecans and coconut just before using.

To make the chocolate frosting:

  • In a medium bowl, stir together butter and cocoa powder. Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk, 1/3 at a time, beating to a spreadable consistency.
  • If you need to thin the frosting, add a small amount of milk. If it needs thickening, add some powdered sugar. Once desired consistency is reached, stir in vanilla. 

To make the Devil's Food Cake:

  • To make the buttermilk, combine milk and lemon juice in a small bowl. Leave out at room temperature until the acid makes the milk start to curdle, at least 10 minutes. (This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to three days.)  
  • Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, coat with nonstick spray, and dust with cocoa powder.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until combined.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, oil, chocolate, eggs, buttermilk (as prepared above), and vanilla extract and mix well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. 
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with a few crumbs attached, about 20 to 30 minutes, rotating and switching pans halfway through baking time.
  • Cool cakes in pan 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cakes and flip out on to wire racks. Peel off parchment paper, flip cakes right-side up, and cool completely, at least 2 hours.

To assemble the cake:

  • Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep platter clean during cake assembly. 
  • Place one cake layer on platter and smooth a thin layer of chocolate frosting over the entire cake. Then spoon 1/3 of the coconut frosting on top, spreading it into a smooth layer. Leave about 1/2" between filling and edge of cake. 
  • Stack the second cake round on top and repeat with 1/3 of the coconut frosting. Lay the third layer of cake on top.
  • Smooth chocolate frosting over the entire cake. Spread remaining 1/3 coconut frosting on top of cake, then pipe a decorative border around the top of the cake. Remove parchment strips from platter before serving.



  1. Egg yolks and eggs: You'll need only the yolks for the frosting. To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, soak them in a bowl of warm water for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Evaporated milk: This is a key ingredient to add luscious texture to both the coconut and chocolate frostings. Look for it in cans in the baking aisle near canned pumpkin.
  3. Pecans: Toasting the pecans is optional, but highly recommended to bring out even more nutty flavor.
  4. Unsweetened cocoa powder: We tested this German Chocolate Cake recipe with both Dutch-processed cocoa and natural cocoa and both work well. Choose your favorite, keeping in mind that Dutch-processed will result in a darker-hued cake and frosting.
  5. Unsweetened chocolate: I prefer chopping this by hand to stud the cake batter with uniquely-sized, easy-melting pieces. To save time, you could certainly use unsweetened chocolate chunks or chips.
  6. Boiling water: For the cake batter. To accurately measure boiling water, boil more than you need, then measure out the 1 cup called for in this German Chocolate Cake recipe.
  7. Yield: Since this German Chocolate Cake recipe is three layers deep (and is fully loaded with decadent flavors), I usually get 16 slices out of each batch.
  8. Storage: Store leftovers wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  9. Freezer: Assemble, bake, and cool the cake itself, then wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to freezer-safe zip top bags. Stored this way, the unfrosted cake will last well for a month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 591kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 397mg | Potassium: 347mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 67g | Vitamin A: 324IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 127mg | Iron: 4mg