The ChocolateDoctor’s German Chocolate Layer Cake With Coconut Pecan Frosting

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Choclatique—150 Simply 150 Elegant Desserts, Running Press

Great news, June 11th is National German’s Chocolate Cake Day in America!

It seems there is a national day for just about everything these days. German Chocolate Cake is a layered chocolate cake from the United States (not Germany) filled and topped with a coconut-pecan custard frosting. Why is it called German Chocolate Cake? Because of an English-American chocolate maker, Samuel German, developed the recipe in 1852 using a dark baking chocolate (German’s Chocolate) for his recipe.

The filling and topping (you don’t frost the sides) is a custard-like concoction made with egg yolks and evaporated milk and once cooked, the coconut and pecans are added. Some bakers add Maraschino cherries, but that starts to taste more like a Black Forest Cake and not at all complementary to this recipe. In today’s politically-correct culture, you might say, it is a misappropriation of national origin. But I digress.

In 1957, the German Chocolate Cake recipe was published in newspapers across the country. Sales of Baker’s chocolate (successor to German’s Chocolate) boomed along with the popularity of the cake. President Lyndon B. Johnson reportedly served this cake at his Johnson City ranch for a luncheon with German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard thinking it was German. No one knows if Chancellor Erhard liked the cake or not. But what’s not to like? It’s made with chocolate, coconut and pecans.

Prep time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Cool time: 15 minutes

For the Chocolate Cake:

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup Choclatique Black Onyx Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, sifted,
plus 2 tablespoons for the pans
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate
1 cup white shortening or unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks (separated—chill the whites)
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

For the Coconut-Pecan Frosting:
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1-1/2 cups shredded coconut, lightly toasted
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

To Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F.
  2. Butter three 8- or 9-inch layer cake pans and dust with cocoa powder.
  3. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder salt and baking soda into a bowl, set aside.
  4. Melt the chocolate in a microwave at 50% power in 10 to 30 second bursts until completely melted and smooth; stir well and let it cool.
  5. Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the shortening and sugar until fluffy; about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Continue mixing and adding the egg yolks to the shortening mixture one at a time.
  7. Once the eggs are incorporated, add the melted chocolate.
  8. Add the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture, alternating with the buttermilk.
  9. Once combined, add the extracts.
  10. Place the chilled egg whites into a separate bowl and whip on high with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 3-4 minutes.
  11. Gently fold in the egg whites into the cake batter.
  12. Pour the batter into the prepared layer cake pans.
  13. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a cake-tester comes out clean.
  14. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Turn out the cakes on cooling racks for further cooling.
  15. Once completely cooled, add a generous layer of coconut pecan frosting to the top of one cake. Top with an additional layer of cake. Continue this step until all cake and frosting is used. Do not frost the sides of the cake.

To make the Coconut-Pecan Frosting:

  1. Pour the evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter and vanilla extract into a saucepan. Warm over medium heat until the butter melts. Stir occasionally.
  2. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 12 minutes.
  3. Pour the mixture into a bowl using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat until the frosting is thick enough to spread.
  4. Fold in the coconut and pecans.

ChefSecret: You can use white shortening or butter; I like to use a half a cup of each.

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