Holiday Feature


German Chocolate Cake

8-10 servings
(for Paul)


For those of you unfamiliar with German chocolate cake, it is usually a two-layer, lightly chocolate cake filled and topped with a coconut-pecan frosting. While it is not a swank-looking dessert, it is delicous. Unfortunately, I find most cakes used for this to be spineless in the chocolate department, so I came up with one that's much more chocolatey. The layers are rather tall; you'll need 9-inch layer pans that are 2-inches deep. If you don't have those, you can use two square 8 by 8 by 2 inch deep pans, but the layers might bake for a bit less time. The batter for this cake is fairly thick, and there's a lot of it, so you'll need an electric mixer on a stand.

The cakes are topped with thick layers of an unusual and rich frosting, then stacked together; the sides of this cake are not frosted. You'll want to make the frosting for the cake first, as it must chill for 2-1/2 or 3 hours to reach spreading consistency, and you can make and cool the cake in that time. This is best eaten within two or three days of completion; the finished cake does not freeze. Thanks to my reader Paul, who suggested this cake.


2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
1-1/4 cups chopped pecans
1 cup evaporated milk
   --this is more than a small can,
    but less than a large can
4 egg yolks, from eggs graded "large"
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
9 Tbsp. (1 stick + 1 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder
1-3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 cups + 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
5 eggs, graded "large"
2 cups buttermilk


To make the frosting, combine coconut and pecans in small bowl and set aside. Pour small amount of evaporated milk into heavy-bottomed, nonreactive 2 quart pot. Add egg yolks. With large spoon, beat to mix well. Gradually and alternatively add remaining evaporated milk and both sugars, beginning with evaporated milk and stirring well after each addition. Add butter pats.

Place over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture just comes to a boil (it may appear as though very slight curdling takes place as mixture heats--that's OK). Remove from heat immediately; mixture will be thin. Stir in coconut and pecans, then add vanilla. Cool briefly, then chill.

As frosting chills, beat occasionally with large spoon. Frosting should thicken considerably to spreading consistency in 2-1/2 to 3 hours, but it's OK if it needs to chill somewhat longer, as this frosting shouldn't harden completely.


To make cake, cut wax paper rounds to fit the bottoms of two 9" diameter layer cake pans; the pans must be 2" deep (if you don't have pans like this, you can bake the layers in two 8 by 8 by 2 inch square pans). Grease the pans, then place the cut-to-fit wax paper in the bottoms. Grease the wax paper, then flour the pans, knocking out any excess. Set pans aside. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Preheat oven to 350'F and adjust rack to center of oven.

In large bowl of electric mixer, cream softened butter, sugar, and vanilla for 2 minutes at medium speed. (Scrape bowl and beater(s) frequently during mixing process to ensure thorough blending.) At low speed, add eggs one at a time; when all eggs have been added, increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. At lowest speed, add sifted dry ingredients in fourths and buttermilk in thirds, beginning and ending with dry ingredients and beating after each addition only until blended. (Note: You are adding a large volume of ingredients here. It may be necessary to increase the mixer speed slightly to get everything combined, and I find that the last addition of dry ingredients is best beaten in with a sturdy whisk.)

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Level batter, then push batter slightly higher up edges of pans, leaving a slight "trench" in the centers. From a height of about 3", drop each pan once onto a sturdy flat surface (such as a table or counter). Place pans in preheated oven.

Bake 35-45 minutes, shifting positions of pans in oven about halfway through baking time. Cakes are done when toothpick inserted in centers of layers emerges with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Do not overbake. Cool on rack 15 minutes. Gently loosen cakes from pan edges; invert onto cooling rack. Carefully peel wax paper from bottoms of layers and re-invert to cool right side up. Cool completely before frosting.

To assemble, if necessary, trim tops of cooled layers so they are level. Place one layer upside down on serving plate. Top with half the chilled, thickened frosting; spread the frosting almost, but not quite, to the edge of the layer. Top with second layer, right side up. Press gently together to force frosting to edge of first layer. Top second layer with remaining frosting and spread evenly over top. Serve immediately or chill until needed. Refrigerate any leftovers.

To cut this cake, you'll need a large, sharp, heavy knife. The one I use has a serrated edge, but you may prefer a straight edged blade, depending upon what works best for you. You'll need something to drink when you eat this; a glass of milk goes very well, as does a cup of coffee.


Copyright © 1999 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.

Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not: distribute the text to others without the express written permission of Stephanie Zonis; "mirror" or include this information on your own server or documents without my permission; modify or re-use the text on this system. You may: print copies of the information for your own personal use; store the files on your computer for your own personal use only; and reference hypertext documents on this server from your own documents.


December Itinerary... Kate's Virtual Journey: A Progressive Feast

12/04/99: The Holy Lands: Holiday Soul Food
12/11/99: Italy: Angels on Strings
12/18/99: Germany: Desserts in Deutschland
12/25/99: France: Foie Gras in France



11/06/99 India: Spicy Chaat and a Cuppa Chai
11/13/99 Egypt: Eating Like an Egyptian
11/20/99 Turkey: A Turkish-Roast Turkey
11/27/99 Detour: Holiday Gift Ideas

10/02/99 Japan: Nimble Nibbling
10/09/99 Korea: Mad About the Mandu
10/16/99 Vietnam: From Moon Cakes to Pancakes
10/23/99 Thailand: The Monkey Feast
10/30/99 China: Festival of the Hungry Ghosts

About Kate's Virtual World Tour: A Progressive Feast
From September 1999 to January 2000, this progressive banquet begins with Appetizers in Asia, continues with multiple courses across India, the Middle East, and North Africa, and around Christmas, crosses over to Europe for Desserts in Deutschland. Recipes, country backgrounds, local attractions, and special travel tips make each stop vivid and exciting, as if you were right there, experiencing the journey yourself. These world tour specialties and authentic recipes will inspire you to create your own unique and festive holiday tables, fit for kings and queens. No passport needed, just a fork, a stove and a hearty appetite!  

Copyright © 1999, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

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Copyright © 1999, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.

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This page created 1999 and modified November 2006.