Last week I wanted something sweet.  After trying to recreate the Pot Belly dream bars, I had a ton of coconut lying around.  The one thing that I always think of when I have coconut is German Chocolate Cake.  It is that chocolate cake that is iced with a creamy coconut frosting.  When I was researching this recipe I found that it is not German at all.  German Chocolate Cake was originally made with a type of Baker’s Chocolate called German’s Sweet Chocolate bar.  German’s Chocolate was a type of chocolate that was made for Baker’s by a man named Sam German.  Yep, the cake is named after a type of chocolate, not a country.  I had no idea.  No matter where it comes from, it is super tasty.

German Chocolate Cake

The three layers of cake with the coconut frosting are amazing!

German Chocolate Cake – (From The Joy of Baking)

  • 4 ounces (120 grams) semi sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups (270 grams) cake flour
  • 3/4 cup (60 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch processed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) hot coffee or boiling water
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 cups (280 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups (450 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Coconut Pecan Frosting

  • 1 1/4 cups (125 grams) pecans (roasted)
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) evaporated milk (can also use light or heavy cream)
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

The Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and move the rack to the center of oven. Butter or spray three 8-inch cake pans.  On top of spraying the pans line them with parchment paper.  To see how to line pans with parchment click here.  The parchment will help you remove the cake pans in one piece without break them.

In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Melt in a double boiler

On a piece of wax paper or parchment, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Sift the ingredients

In a small bowl, combine the hot water/coffee and buttermilk.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the sugar and butter until fluffy (this will take about 2-4 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.

Add the buttermilk mixture and flour mixtures in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat only until the ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the melted chocolate.

Mix the ingredients

Divide the batter evenly among the three prepared pans and smooth the tops. If you make a little well in the center of the cakes they will cook flat.  Cakes rise the most in the center so creating a well will allow them to rise totally flat.

Fill the pans evenly

Bake for about 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes. Butter or lightly spray a wire rack with a non stick vegetable spray before inverting the cakes onto the rack to prevent the cakes from sticking. Cool the cakes completely before frosting.

Cool the cakes completely

Coconut Pecan Frosting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Roast the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned with a nutty scent. Remove from oven, let cool, and then coarsely chop.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, egg yolks, butter, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, and when the mixture begins to boil and thicken, remove from heat. Stir in the chopped pecans, coconut, and vanilla extract.

Pour in the coconut and nuts

Let cool until spreadable.

Let cool completely

Creating the ultimate layer cake

Place a dab of frosting on a serving plate.  This will hold the cake in place so that it does not move around.  Then, place one layer of cake, on your serving plate, and cover with one third of the frosting. Do the same for the second layer.

Cover the first and second layers with frosting.

Then add the third cake layer and frost the top of the cake with the remaining frosting (the sides of the cake are left bare).

Top the final layer with the remaining frosting

The finished cake can be stored at room temperature for a couple of days or it can be refrigerated.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.

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