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German Chocolate Cake

Rich, moist layers of chocolate cake with a creamy coconut pecan frosting come together in this classic German Chocolate Cake. Every bite has a light crunch from the pecans, the sweetness from the coconut and the richness from the layers of chocolate cake.
Author: Lisa Kerhin


For the Cake:

  • ¼ cup Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 cup plus 3 tbsp unsalted butter softened
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk *

For the German Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 cups evaporated milk
  • 2 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks beaten with 1 tsp water
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 2 cups flaked coconut


For the cake:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  • Combine together cocoa and water in small bowl until smooth; set aside.
  • In a large bowl of a stand mixer beat butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • In a medium bowl, combine together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  • To the butter mixture add by alternating between the dry ingredients, the chocolate mixture, and buttermilk beating just enough to blend each time. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly or cake tester comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
  • Prepare the coconut-pecan frosting (recipe below) and frost cakes.
  • *TIP: To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

For the German Chocolate Frosting:

  • The frosting will frost a two layer cake with a little frosting leftover. If you bake the cake in a 13 x 9 pan, the FROSTING recipe needs to be decreased by HALF.
  • In a large saucepan combine evaporated milk and cornstarch and whisk; add in sugar, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla whisking until combined.
  • Cook over medium heat until it reaches a slow boil. Once it reaches a boil, stir constantly until thick, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in pecans and coconut. The frosting will thicken up as it cools. Let cool 1 hour then spread on cooled cake. I often speed this process up by refrigerating the frosting for 30 minutes and then letting it cool the rest of the time on the kitchen counter.

To frost:

  • Place bottom layer of cake on a serving plate and top with enough frosting to cover the cake layer. Top with remaining layer of cake and frost with more of the coconut pecan frosting as desired. Garnish with extra chopped pecans, if desired.