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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:

  • 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 melted
  • 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, 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. Boiling water: to accurately measure boiling water, boil more than you need, then measure out the desired amount.
  2. Yield: 15 slices
  3. Storage: store leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator, up to 3 days.
  4. Make Ahead: make up to 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until serving. 
  5. Freezer: individual slices can be frozen by placing on a parchment lined baking sheet in the freezer. Remove frozen slices and store in an airtight container up to 3 months. 


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