How to Make German Chocolate Cake

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Have you tried to make German Chocolate Cake? It’s easier than you think. We show you how.

German Chocolate Cake with Coconut & Pecan Filling/Frosting

Gorgeous one-of-a-kind classic cake for very special occasions. Serves 16.

slice of German Chocolate Cake

Where did German Chocolate Cake come from?

The traditional German Chocolate Cake is made with a dark, sweet chocolate created in 1852 by Samuel German for Baker’s Chocolate Company. It was the first sweetened baking chocolate. In 1957, (105 years later) the the Dallas Morning News chose the German’s Chocolate Cake recipe as the recipe of the day. It became so popular that it increased sales of Bakers Chocolate (now owned by General Foods) by 73%. The recipe was reprinted so many times that they eventually dropped the possessive form (German’s).

Today, it is considered a classic cake recipe.

How to make the chocolate cake layers rich & fluffy.

A German Chocolate Cake is a layered chocolate cake filled and topped with a coconut-pecan frosting.

The layers are made rich and fluffy by:

  • beating the sugar and butter together until they are light and creamy
  • beating air into the egg whites
  • the acid in the buttermilk activating the baking soda to make the cake rise

Traditionally, the sides of the cake are not iced so you can see the fluffy layers of cake with the sweet layers of coconut-pecan frosting in between. (Plus, this cake is very sweet so icing on the sides is a little too much.)

How to make the German Chocolate Cake frosting with coconut & pecans.

The coconut-pecan frosting and filling is what makes the cake a much-loved dessert. Fortunately, it is easy to whip up. Just whisk the eggs and milk in a saucepan until blended. On medium heat, add butter and sugar, stirring until thick and golden brown. Add the coconut and pecans, and spread when it’s cooled to the right consistency.

How to Make German Chocolate Cake


  • 4 oz Baker’s German or Sweet Chocolate Baking Squares
  • 1/2 c water (to melt chocolate)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c butter (room temperature)
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Coconut Pecan Filling

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1½ c sugar
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ c butter (room temperature)
  • 2 2/3 cups (about 1/2 of 14-oz. pkg.) Baker’s Angel Flake shredded coconut
  • 2 c chopped pecans


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cover the bottom of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment circles and spray sides with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Coarsely chop the chocolate squares into pieces and put into a microwaveable bowl. Pour water over top. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir, microwave 30 seconds to 1 minute, until completely melted. Set aside.
  4. Separate eggs.
  5. Beat butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. On low, beat in chocolate and vanilla until smooth.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. On low, add slowly to the liquids, alternating with buttermilk, mixing until smooth after each addition. Beat until there are no lumps.
  7. Clean beaters for mixer. Beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.
  8. Use a rubber spatula to fold egg whites into mixture gently to combine. Divide batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the top.
  9. Bake on the center rack for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (If you are leaving the sides of the cake bare for a rustic look, make sure you don’t over-cook.)

Coconut Pecan Filling

  1. While cakes are cooling, prepare the filling. In a saucepan, beat egg yolks, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract until well blended. Add sugar and stir until blended.
  2. Add butter and cook on medium heat. Stir frequently until mixture begins to bubble. Continue stirring and cook until a golden brown, about 8 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat aand stir in coconut and nuts. Let cool until spreadable or store in fridge until using.

Assemble Cake

  1. Place a layer of cake on a serving plate. Spread 1/2 of the filling on the top of the cake, leaving sides bare.
  2. Place the second layer of cake on top. Spread the remaining filling on top.
  3. To garnish, drizzle chocolate across the top.
  4. The top of the cake will have a crust that may be cracked. That’s okay – the coconut pecan filling will cover it. Run a small spatula around the edge of the cake pan as soon as they’re out of the oven, then allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  5. You must use sweet or milk chocolate made for baking. Chocolate chips or candy bars will not be smooth enough for baking.
  6. A rustic look will leave the sides of the cake bare so you can see the texture of the cake and the filling. If you prefer, you can frost the sides of the cake with chocolate icing.

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Cake Recipes

Cake photo in header by kimberlykv is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Make filling first, and chill.

Cook cupcakes for 20 minutes or until toothpick in center of cupcake comes out clean. Allow them to cool completely.

Frost with chocolate icing and top with a spoonful of filling.

Garnish with a half pecan.

german chocolate cupcakes for German chocolate cake day

Want more? See our other cake recipes.


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