German Chocolate Cake Recipe! {Scratch}

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This moist German Chocolate Cake has amazing flavor from German chocolate, coconut, and pecans. It is no wonder that has been one of the most popular classic cakes for generations!

The cake layers have the mild, sweet flavor of German Chocolate, and are filled and topped with a decadent pecan and coconut filling. It is heavenly!

German Chocolate Cake Recipe from Scratch-This amazing recipe is so moist and flavorful! A classic!

If you have never tried German Chocolate Cake, you absolutely must. We even have an easy German Chocolate Cake Mix Recipe!

Why we Love it

German Chocolate Cake is an old fashioned favorite that feels extra special. It is a treasured classic cake, just as with our Carrot Cake, Italian Cream Cake, and Hummingbird Cake recipes!

  • The decadent filling and the mild German Chocolate layers balance each other perfectly.
  • This nostalgic cake has been a staple at holiday dessert tables for generations. We associate it with celebrations with family and friends.
  • Coconut Pecan Filling and Topping- This is reason enough to make the cake! It is rich, thick, and SO delicious.
  • Easy to Decorate- You can choose to frost the sides in chocolate buttercream as we did in today's post, or you can simply leave the sides "naked" as we did in our Doctored cake mix German Chocolate Cake post!

How to Make German Chocolate Cake

*See the Full Printable Recipe Card at the Bottom of this Post

One of our favorite things about this cake is that it actually incorporates melted German Chocolate. Some recipes use plain chocolate layers instead. We love the mild, sweet flavor that this chocolate brings to the recipe!

  • First, break the German chocolate bar into pieces and place in a bowl.
  • Melt the German chocolate by pouring ½ cup boiling water over the chocolate. Let it sit for 1 to 2 minutes to soften then stir until completely melted. Set Aside.
  • Next, separate the 4 eggs and beat the egg whites in a small bowl on high speed until stiff peaks form (using the beaters of an electric mixer or a whisk attachment). Set Aside.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or hand mixer) beat the butter until smooth. Then, add the sugar and beat until fluffy (two to four minutes).  Add egg the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Add the melted German chocolate and vanilla and blend.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 additions of dry ingredients, two additions of wet). Mix just until incorporated.
  • Gently fold and stir in the whipped egg whites and pour into the prepared pans.
  • Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then turn out. Cool layers completely and they are ready to fill and frost.

Coconut Pecan Filling

Every German Chocolate Cake needs an amazing coconut and pecan filling! It is thick, flavorful, and simple to make on the stovetop. Here is a quick look at our steps!

  • Whisk egg yolks, milk and vanilla in a saucepan until blended. Add sugar and butter and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened, stir constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and nuts.
  • Allow it to cool before spreading on the cake. To speed up the cooling, you can pour into a long casserole dish!
Coconut Pecan Filling, cooling in a casserole dish.
  • This German Chocolate filling recipe makes enough to fill and frost three (8 or 9 inch) cake layers. It is very rich so it can be used as a filling and on the top layer, leaving the sides unfrosted.
  • For today's cake we filled our cake with coconut pecan filling, frosted the sides with chocolate buttercream, and added additional coconut pecan frosting to the top.

Assembling the German Chocolate Cake

Traditionally, German Chocolate Cakes are filled with their signature coconut & pecan filling, but not frosted around the sides (as with our German Chocolate Cake Mix Recipe).

First, place a German Chocolate cake layer on the pedestal and spread it with a layer of the cooled coconut pecan filling. Repeat for the next layer, and top with the third cake layer.

Spreading German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Filling using a small offset spatula.

Decorating the German Chocolate Cake

Today, we changed things up a bit & frosted the sides of our German Chocolate Cake with our delicious Chocolate Buttercream Recipe.

We first crumb coated the filled cake with a thin layer of chocolate buttercream, and piped horizontal rows of buttercream shells (piped with a 2D tip), working from the bottom up.

For more details on piping shells, check out our tutorial on the basics of piping with a star tip !

Moist and delicious German Chocolate Cake from Scratch Recipe by MyCakeSchool.com. Online Cake Tutorials & Recipes.

FAQs

German Chocolate Cake is a classic recipe that consists of German Chocolate cake layers with a coconut pecan filling and topping.

Surprisingly, German Chocolate Cake did not originate in Germany. The cake is named for the English-American creator of German Chocolate, Samuel German. (See our Black Forest Cake if you're looking for a dessert with German roots!) ;0)

Samuel German developed the chocolate for the Baker's Chocolate company in the 1850s, which is sweeter than semi-sweet chocolate. It was named German's Sweet Chocolate.

In 1957, the Dallas Morning News published the first record of German Chocolate Cake. The published recipe for German's Chocolate Cake was credited to Dallas resident, Mrs. George Clay. It was an immediate success and the recipe quickly spread from kitchen to kitchen. The rest is history!

There are differing opinions on this question. Most sources say that German Chocolate Cake can sit out at room temperature in an airtight container for two-three days. Then, refrigerate beyond that.

We personally like to play it safe and refrigerate this cake after a few hours. However, for best flavor and texture, is important to remove it from the refrigerator at least two hours before serving. This will allow plenty of time for the cake to warm and soften.

Yes! You can make the cake layers for this German Chocolate Cake recipe well in advance and freeze them (for up to three months)! Then, put it all together after thawing.

To freeze the German Chocolate Cake Layers, bake as usual and allow to cool. (We often wrap the layers while still slightly warm.) Then, wrap each layer individually with plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. If you are only freezing the cake layers for a few days, double wrapping in plastic wrap is protection enough.

For extra support, we like to place each cake layer on a foil-wrapped cardboard cake circle before wrapping and freezing.

To thaw, bring the wrapped cake layers to the kitchen counter, and leave wrapped for 30-45 minutes. Condensation will collect on the wrapping. Then, remove and continue to thaw to desired amount for assembling.

We have many more old fashioned favorite cakes to share with you! You can find them in the Classic Cake Recipes section of our site, as well as in our roundup of favorite classic cakes!

Some of our most popular classic cakes are Italian Cream Cake, Hummingbird Cake, and our Carrot Cake recipe.

Here are just a few more favorites:

We hope that you enjoy this delicious cake recipe! Make sure to check out our full collection of cake recipes from scratch as well as our cake mix recipes!

If you are interested in cake decorating also, we have hundreds of cake decorating tutorials to share with you.

Enjoy the Cake

The BEST German Chocolate Cake recipe from scratch! Moist German chocolate cake layers with a flavorful coconut pecan filling! MyCakeSchool.com online cake tutorials, recipes, videos, and more!

German Chocolate Cake Recipe! {Scratch}

This German Chocolate Cake tastes amazing! Moist German chocolate cake layers with a flavorful coconut and pecan filling. This recipe is always a crowd pleaser!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Course: Cakes and Cupcakes
Servings: 15 servings
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Ingredients

FOR THE GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE LAYERS

  • 4 oz (113g) Bakers German Sweet Chocolate Bar
  • ½ cup (118g) boiling water
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 sticks (226g total) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ cups (285g) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.5g) salt
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) vanilla
  • 1 cup (242g) buttermilk

COCONUT PECAN FILLING/FROSTING

  • 1 ½ cups (171g) pecans, chopped
  • 2 ⅔ cup (198g) flaked coconut
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter

Classic Chocolate Buttercream (Optional)

  • 2 sticks (226g total) unsalted butter, softened 226g unsalted butter, softened (do not soften butter in the microwave)
  • 6 cups (796g) confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder sifted (86 grams) measure then sift
  • cup (75g) milk
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) vanilla

Instructions

For the German Chocolate Cake Layers

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour 3 (8 or 9 inch) pans
  • Break the chocolate bar into pieces and place in a bowl.
  • Melt the chocolate by pouring ½ cup boiling water over the chocolate. Let it sit for 1 to 2 minutes to soften then stir until completely melted. Set Aside.
  • Separate the 4 eggs and beat the whites in a small bowl on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set Aside.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  • In the bowl of your electric mixer or hand mixer, mix the butter until smooth then add the sugar and mix until fluffy and light ( 2 to 4 minutes).
  • Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and blend.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 additions of flour mixture, two additions of buttermilk mixture), mixing at low speed just until incorporated.
  • Gently fold and stir in the egg whites and pour into the prepared pans.
  • Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then turn out. Cool layers completely and they are ready to fill and frost. To freeze for later use, cover individually with plastic wrap while still warm to the touch and wrap in aluminum foil. Can be frozen for 2 months.

Coconut Pecan Filling

  • Whisk egg yolks, evaporated milk and vanilla in a saucepan until blended.
  • Add sugar and butter and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened, stir constantly.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and nuts. Allow to cool before spreading on the cake.

Classic Chocolate Buttercream

  • Add butter and mix on medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla and blend into the butter.
  • Add confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder. Add most of the milk.
  • Begin mixing at low speed until incorporated and then increase to medium speed for about one minute.
  • Reduce speed to low and beat an additional two to three minutes, adding remaining milk as needed. Makes approximately 4 cups of frosting.

Notes

  • The coconut pecan filling and topping was just enough to fill and top our chocolate cake layers. German Chocolate Cakes are often unfrosted around the sides (as we did in our German Chocolate Cake Doctored Mix Recipe)- but today, we applied chocolate buttercream around the sides.
  • If you are using chocolate buttercream, it is a good idea to pipe a dam of chocolate buttercream (using a disposable piping bag or ziplock bag with the tip/corner snipped away). Then, fill within the dam with the coconut pecan filling. Add the second layer and repeat. Add the third layer, top with coconut pecan topping (leave room for a frosting border), and frost around the sides of the cake.
  • Another popular way of serving this cake is to frost the entire cake with coconut pecan frosting. If you go this route, you will need to double the recipe.
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    62 Comments

    1. Hi Sam, I am sorry but I do not remember if there was leftover coconut pecan frosting. Checking our quantity of ingredients with other recipes online that cover the whole cake could help you.

    2. Hi. I tried this recently and it was great. Cake has a mild choc flavor and very moist. I doubled the pecan coconut icing bc I wanted it all over the cake including sides. The consistency was perfect the first day. It was really thick the next (I did refrigerate). If I only used 3 egg yolks (6 with double recipe) will that help it stay smoother longer?