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German Chocolate Cake | The Recipe Critic


German Chocolate Cake | The Recipe Critic

Homemade German Chocolate Cake, with two layers of scratch made cake, a sticky coconut pecan topping, and fudge frosting is everyone’s favorite cake!

Everyone loves a good homemade cake. Some may consider it the best dessert there is. And if you’re as big of a fan of cake as I am, you’ll surely want to make a Perfect Tres Leches Cake or a Marble Bundt Cake.

German Chocolate Cake

I love homemade cake. I can always tell the difference between a homemade cake where everything was made from scratch. I grew up on boxed mixes and frosting from a tub, but once I realized how wonderful scratch baking was, I’ve never looked back.

I had some extra cake and asked my friends if they wanted any. I could not believe how many people said that German Chocolate was their absolute favorite! For many people, they said it’s been their favorite since they were a kid!

What is different about German Chocolate Cake?

There are actually quite a few differences between a German Chocolate Cake and traditional chocolate cake.

First of all, the chocolate in the cake portion was intended to come from a sweet chocolate. This is different than milk, semi-sweet, or dark chocolate. If you see any recipes that call for chocolate chips or cocoa powder, know that you’re not going to get a cake that tastes like authentic German Chocolate Cake. In my opinion, milk chocolate is the closest you can get, unless you did what I did and use a combination of semi-sweet and blonde chocolate (which I think is the perfect combination for this recipe). Do you see how light brown the cake color is? Buttermilk is also a common ingredient of German Chocolate Cake.

Second, German Chocolate Cake is known for the custard-like topping that is full of pecans and coconut. I am a huge fan of coconut, and also love making coconut ice cream and coconut pudding.

Third, chocolate frosting is often seen on German Chocolate cake, however it is totally optional. I’ve seen cakes that are smothered in the coconut pecan topping without any frosting, and for me, that’s just too much. I also think a super creamy shortening frosting (like what you might get from a grocery store bakery) is a really bad choice for this cake. No. The only way to go is with a dark, rich, fudge like chocolate frosting like the one I’ve used. It’s the perfect compliment to the subtle chocolate flavor in the cake.

Why is it called German Chocolate Cake?

Think this cake originated in Germany, and that’s why it’s called German Chocolate Cake? Nope.

This cake was originally called German’s Chocolate Cake, after an American baker named Samuel German.

Does German Chocolate Cake need to be refrigerated?

This cake is most definitely best enjoyed right away, but I was surprised at how well it kept. I stored my cake in an air tight container at room temperature, and we were enjoying it for days.

If it makes you feel better to refrigerate the cake, you can certainly do so, but I kept it at room temperature and it was fine.

Love homemade chocolate desserts? Try these:

German Chocolate Cake

Prep Time 30 minutes

Cook Time 45 minutes

Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Homemade German Chocolate Cake, with two layers of scratch made cake, a sticky coconut pecan topping, and fudge frosting is everyone’s favorite cake!


  • Cooking spray to grease pans
  • 4 oz milk chocolate alternatively, I used a combination of semi sweet chocolate and 32% blonde chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 4 large eggs yolks and whites separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Coconut-Pecan Filling and Topping

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coconut flaked and unsweetened
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the Chocolate Frosting:

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

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