German Chocolate Cake

June 21st.

Most people enjoy June 21st because it is the longest day of the year. We do too. However, we have another reason to love the longest sunshine day of the year.

June 21st is my husband, Dwight’s birthday.

German Chocolate Cake

I am not too much of a celebratory kind of person. After working in hospitality for so many years, I lost the notion of having time off on weekends and holidays. Hotels are open 24/7 and as a hotelier, you have to be available to work any day of the year. At first it was hard to accept it but then I got used to it and let holidays go…

But birthdays are different. It is that “one day of the year” that is all about you.

No one, but you…

That is why; I believe that a birthday should be celebrated. It should be a BIG deal.

German Chocolate Cake

Our way of birthday celebration is to have a really good birthday cake and eat it with friends. When living on an island, that, pretty much, is the only option because we do not have malls or stores to buy gifts.

Every year, on Dwight’s birthday, I try to make a ”not so easy to make” cake for his birthday. This year was no different. I have been working on this German Chocolate Cake for a while now. This time, I think, I nailed it.
This is the kind of cake that you make on a day off, for a special occasion.

With its chocolaty and coconuty self, I cannot imagine a better cake for the occasion. He says that it reminds him of his childhood days as his mother used to make it for him when he was a kid. After eating two slices he said that it was just as good.
A sigh of relief…

Most German chocolate cake recipes you find in books use the coconut filling both in between layers and on top. I changed it a little bit. I wanted it to look like a good old chocolate cake with the German chocolate cake hidden inside. Like an unexpected surprise…

German Chocolate Cake


Couple of suggestions:

  • Make the filling first. When it is cooling in the refrigerator, you can make the cakes.
  • It really makes a difference when you toast pecans. It may look like an unnecessary step but toasting them brings out their earthy flavor and develops their sweetness. I would toast pecans even before making the filling so that they will have time to cool before mixing it with the filling, which is at the very end.
  • I used a chocolate glaze but you can use the coconut filling to cover the top of the cake.

German Chocolate Cake


German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

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  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8


  • Filling
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 1 cup (7 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz.) packed light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut in to small pieces
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups (7 oz.) sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 1/2 oz.) finely chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • Cake
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 oz), plus additional for dusting cake pans
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 cup (7 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (4 3/4 oz.) packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • Chocolate Sauce
  • 4 oz. bitter sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon good honey
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar


  1. For the filling: In a small saucepan, whisk yolks; gradually whisk in evaporated milk. Constantly mixing, add sugars, salt, butter and cook over medium- high heat. Mix it until it becomes slightly thickened and is boiling, just about 6 minutes. Let it cool outside first, then cover it with plastic wrap and place it into the fridge. You should keep it in the fridge at least 2 hours. ( I usually make the filling 1 day prior to the occasion. Not only it makes it quicker but also, in time, it turns into the exact consistency that I want for this filling)
  2. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to the lower middle position and pre-heat it to 350 °F. In a small bowl, combine chocolate, cocoa and boiling water. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and whisk it until smooth. Put it aside for it to come to the room temperature.
  3. In the mean time, butter and flour (I use baking spray) two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Spray paper rounds with baking spray after placing them in the pan.
  4. Sift flour and baking soda into a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Using a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, sugars and salt at medium-low speed, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the mixture is fluffy for about 4 minutes, scraping down the bottom of the bowl to ensure that no lumps remaining.
  6. While the mixer is running, add eggs one at a time. Mix for 15 to 20 seconds after each egg to ensure that they are fully incorporated into the butter and sugar mixture. Scrape down the bottom of the bowl again.
  7. Add the vanilla and mix it for 45 seconds. With mixer running at low speed, add chocolate/cocoa mixture, then increase speed to medium and beat until combined about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl once again. At this point, it may appear like it is curdled or broken.
  8. With mixer running in low speed, add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with sour cream. After the last flour addition, beat until it is fully incorporated, just about 30 more seconds. One last time give it a stir hand. It should look like a homogenous batter.
  9. Divide the batter equally between two 9-inch pans. Smooth the surface of each batter using a rubber spatula.
  10. Bake cakes for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of cakes comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes, take them out of the pans and place them onto a greased wire rack. (I use baking spray to grease the wire rack) Cool them for at least an hour.
  11. For the chocolate sauce/glaze: Place chocolate and honey in a bowl and set aside. Place the heavy cream and sugar in a small saucepan and heat it over medium heat until sugar is fully dissolved. Pour the warm cream and sugar mixture onto the chocolate and honey mixture and stir it until smooth and silky. It may take a couple of minutes for it to thicken. Let it cool at room temperature.
  12. To assemble: Place the toasted pecans and the shredded coconut into chilled filling and stir. Place the first cake on to a cake stand. Using a serrated knife, holding it parallel to work surface, cut the first cake into two equal layers. Using a spatula, distribute 1 cup filling evenly on the first layer. Place the second layer of the first cake on top and distribute 1 cup of filling once again. Repeat the same process with the second cake. When all layers are completed, coat the outer layer of the cake fully with the chocolate glaze. Let it rest for 1 hour in room temperature and serve. (If you refrigerate it, let it cool at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.)

This recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

German Chocolate Cake

Birthday Boy


German Chocolate Cake

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  • Food for Feast - This cake looks amazing, pls save me a slice?ReplyCancel

  • Didem :) - Canııııım it’s look like so delicious !!!! pls remember 25 st january (it’s my birthday) 😀ReplyCancel

  • Dalya - I will certainly try this for a special occasion. Perhaps for Andrea’s birthday 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Venecia - Hi Ayse,

    I want to try this recipe, do you also add the coconut at the end with the chilled pecans?

    Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

    • Aysegul Sanford - Hi Venecia,
      Yes you do.
      It is so delicious. I hope you and your Mr. will like it as much as we do.

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