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German chocolate cake.

German Chocolate Cake

Calling all coconut and chocolate fans (you know who you are)! This recipe for German chocolate cake turns up the dial on the chocolate and then gets slathered in a luscious homemade frosting that’s loaded with pecans and shredded coconut. This may be the best layer cake of them all.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 15 servings
Calories 631kcal


For the coconut frosting:

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter cut into 4 pieces (1/2 stick)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup pecans toasted and finely chopped

For the chocolate frosting:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Devil's Food Cake:

  • 1 cup whole milk at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (1 1/2 ounces) plus extra for dusting
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar packed (10 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup oil canola or vegetable
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water (see notes)


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, melt butter, then stir in cocoa powder. Alternatively add powdered sugar and milk, 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 formed, stir in vanilla. 

To make the Devil's Food Cake:

  • Make the buttermilk. In a small bowl, combine milk and lemon juice and leave out at room temperature for at least thirty minutes, or until the acid makes the milk start to curdle. (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.


To accurately measuring boiling water, boil more than you need, then measure out the desired amount.


Calories: 631kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 429mg | Potassium: 367mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 71g | Vitamin A: 346IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 134mg | Iron: 4mg