german chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and toasted coconut flakes

The BEST German Chocolate Cake (video)


One of the most iconic chocolate cake recipes – German chocolate cake is unbeatable! My recipe for this classic coconut cake includes rich chocolate cake layers, classic American chocolate buttercream, the classic pecan and coconut custard filling, chocolate ganache as garnish and more toasted coconut flakes! This stunning cake is simply the best and it’s almost too pretty to eat, almost! And, try my new ‘German Chocolate Cheesecake’, too!

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German Chocolate Cake

Did you know that this cake actually has nothing to do with Germany? That’s right! It’s named after the man who invented the dark chocolate that is used in the original recipe, Samuel German. The chocolate recipe can be traced back to 1852! Then in 1957 Mrs. George Clay came up with this cake recipe, using German’s iconic baker’s chocolate. This version with chocolate buttercream and ganache pays tribute to the original in the prettiest way possible!

coconut cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate ganache, with espresso cups

How It’s Made: The Chocolate Cake

This incredible coconut cake starts with delicate chocolate cake layers. For this recipe, I used my ‘Perfect Chocolate Cake’ recipe from my ‘Back to Cake Basics’ series and made 1 1/2 portions of the recipe to make thick layers of cake. It’s the perfect cake recipe – rich, chocolate-y and very moist! It’s made with a combination of cocoa powder and melted chocolate to get the most flavor. This cake is very moist but if desired, a syrup can be used to soak the layers. Simply combine 1 cup hot water with 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons coconut extract. Stir the sugar and water until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow the syrup to cool, then transfer into a dispenser bottle for soaking the cake layers.

The Coconut Pecan Filling

The cake layers are then filled with the iconic German chocolate cake filling made with toasted coconut and pecans. The classic coconut custard filling is super easy to make! It’s made with egg yolks, sugar, butter and evaporated milk. When making the custard, make sure to continuously stir it with a rubber spatula to avoid burning it. Also, don’t allow the custard to boil which can cause it to separate; low and slow does it! And then go in the toasted coconut flakes and chopped pecans. I  love using unsweetened coconut flakes because the filling is already sweet enough. Make sure the filling is completely cooled before using in the cake! Otherwise, the buttercream will melt. I spread the filling onto a baking sheet and place it into the fridge for faster cooling!

german chocolate cake slice on gold plate with espresso and chocolate

The Chocolate Buttercream

Sticking with the classic American theme of this recipe, I use my ‘Basic Chocolate Buttercream’ recipe for this cake. It’s a super simple and delicious frosting that’s perfect for this cake! If you don’t like American buttercream, this cake will work with other buttercreams! Try making a chocolate version of my ‘French Buttercream’ by adding a few tablespoons of cocoa powder. Also, my ‘Italian Meringue Buttercream’ can be made chocolate with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1/2 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate chips.

The Garnishes

And to finish off this stunning cake, I went with a combination of my classicChocolate Ganache’, the remaining toasted coconut flakes, dollops of chocolate buttercream and the coconut pecan filling. To add the toasted coconut, I just lightly pressed it into the sides of the cake, gently into the buttercream. When making the chocolate ganache, allow it to cool until it’s room temperature and then garnish the cake. Hot chocolate and buttercream don’t mix!

chocolate cake with coconut pecan filling and toasted coconut

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Looking for more incredible cake recipes? Here are some similar recipes on my blog you’re sure to enjoy!

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The BEST German Chocolate Cake video recipe

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