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German Chocolate Cake

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When my incredible friend, Pam, requested either a German chocolate cake or carrot cake for her birthday, I knew I had to make both. My go-to recipe for carrot cake is the Silver Palate version with crushed pineapple, nuts, coconut plus a decadent cream cheese frosting. The German chocolate was more of a challenge…you see, my family likes pure unadulterated chocolate cakes, so I’d never bake one before. Nuts and coconut are blasphemous! I had to search my foodie sites to find this David Lebovitz masterpiece. The rum syrup moistens even an overbaked cake…it’s definitely a winning recipe!

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German Chocolate Cake


Adapted from David Lebovitz

For cake:

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cup + ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For filling:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups coconut, toasted

For syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum

For icing:

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  1. Butter two 9 inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Melt both chocolates (the two oz semi-sweet and 2 oz unsweetened) together with the 6 tablespoons of water in the microwave. Heat in 30 second increments until mostly melted. Stir until smooth, then let cool to room temperature.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and 1 ¼ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks, one at a time.
  4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture, then the buttermilk and the vanilla, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients.
  5. Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Beat in the ¼ cup of sugar until stiff. Gently fold about one third of the egg whites into the cake batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites and mix just until there’s no trace of egg white visible.
  6. Divide the batter into the 2 cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake layers completely.
  7. While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup, and icing.
  8. Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a saucepan. Put the 6 tablespoons butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon.
  9. Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool to room temperature.
  10. In a saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat, and stir in the dark rum. Set aside.
  11. Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ ounces of butter. Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
  12. Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally, using a long, serrated bread knife. Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush well with syrup. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top.
  13. Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.
  14. Frost the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

Yield: 16 servinga


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5 comments on “German Chocolate Cake”

  1. Liz……you did it again. The cake looks amazing! I’m sure your friend was more then pleased. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
    Glad you had a fabulous time on your trip.

  2. Thanks, Erica! I’m enjoying your blog, too 🙂

  3. Kim, I was intimidated, too!! But since this was for one of my best friend’s birthdays, I gave it a shot. Using the rum syrup between the layers helps keep the cake moist (my biggest fear!).

  4. Thanks, Susan! You’re digging back deep into my early days of blogging 🙂

  5. Oh to have you as a friend when my birthday comes around. What a beautiful friend you are and to make TWO cakes is over the top special.

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