German Chocolate Cake – Finally

June 3, 2009 · 39 comments

in desserts/sweets

I am in absolute awe of bakers.  I’m not going to lie. I used to think baking was the “easier” of the two, between baking and cooking. I mean, all you need to do is follow directions. Measurements and methods are there, just mix it up and bake. It gets messy, and it takes time, but it’s not that hard, right? That was also the reason I hated baking – I don’t like measuring, and I like tasting my food, adjusting seasonings if necessary, before it gets served.

But, wow. Lately, I have a serious appreciation for bakers. After making this cake, I found myself wondering how all the bakers out there do what they do, as often as they do, and as well as they do it. I mean, I realize not every recipe is a layer cake and muffins and whatnot are easier to make. But, take for example, Annie. This girl is a doctor, a wife, a mom, and a ridiculously amazing baker.  She is superwoman.  How does she have time to do stuff like this?  Me? Not so much.  One layer cake per year is enough for me.

Anyway, back to this cake. My husband likes to taunt me, apparently, so he asked for German chocolate cake for this birthday this year, again. You remember what happened the first time I made it, right? Yeah.  He couldn’t ask for the Boston cream pie I managed to turn out just fine, thankyouverymuch.

I went with a recipe I found on David Lebovitz’s site, though the recipe is actually from Mary Jo Thoresen of Chez Panisse fame. I apparently picked this cake because, in addition to being a non-baker, I’m also a masochist. It doesn’t just have cake and coconut-pecan filling. No no no.  It’s got icing and a syrup, too.  But actually the syrup is one of the things that drew me to this recipe. More sugar? Yes, please. And rum? Okay!

This cake took 7 bowls, 2 pans for toasting pecans and coconut, so many spatulas I lost count, a cake pan, a cooling rack, a cake stand, a cutting board, a KitchenAid mixer, a piping bag/tip, 3 saucepans, knives, and like 4 patridges in rather large pear trees.  After I finished this cake, I was in serious need of a nap.  And, even though I was cleaning as I was going along, I still found a mess at the end.

I only made half a recipe (one 9″, 2-layer cake) because we really don’t need a ginormous cake around since it’s just the two of us. It obviously didn’t look as towering and beautiful as it should have for that reason but also because, well, I suck at cake decorating. I may have used a little too much of the filling in between the cake layers and didn’t have enough for the top. My piping (a pretty horrible job on its own, actually) was like 2″ in from the cake instead of on the edge. Haha.

But that’s ok, really. Because here is the part you are waiting for: despite the full dishwasher and hideous piping…

This.recipe.is.so.worth.it.

The cake is incredibly moist. The syrup adds even more moistness and a little hint of rum. The coconut-pecan filling is absolutely the perfect consistency and has the right amount of sweetness, and the dark chocolate used throughout makes this so, so decadent. It is truly the best German chocolate cake I’ve had. And that’s saying a lot, because I’m not one to throw “best ever” around.

Since this cake already tired me out, I’m not going to retype the recipe. Just go here for the original recipe.

Some notes:

  • The halved recipe (1 cake) took about 35 minutes to bake.
  • I used sweetened coconut (since I already had half a bag handy) for the coconut-pecan filling. I found the amount of filling just a tad too little for my liking, so I may 1.5x the recipe next time.
  • This makes a lot of rum syrup. I’d reduce it down next time.
  • I added just a little powdered sugar (maybe 1-2T) to the icing.  Without the sugar, it would have been fine for icing, but it wasn’t quite stiff enough for piping. I’m glad I added just a bit though because, well, I like sugar and what’s icing without it? :)
  • I used bittersweet chocolate throughout, my husband’s favorite. With the exception of the icing (which doesn’t normally have added sugar), I definitely think that’s the way to go or even *I* might think this cake to be too sweet.

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

thecookingnurse June 3, 2009 at 6:09 pm

I’ve been waiting for you to post this, German Chocolate cake is my dad’s favorite. I think it looks awesome and so delish!

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Peter G June 3, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Woah! Elly this is AMAZING! Congratulations on making this beauty! It looks wonderful! I’m sure hubby appreciated all your efforts. And stop being hard on yourself! A fantastic effort!

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Chris June 3, 2009 at 6:44 pm

What are you talking about? The cake looks GREAT! :)

But I hear ya on bakers. Ugh, I’m such a bad baker cause 1. I don’t like to follow exact directions 2. I make an enormous mess and usually forget a step. 3. I definitely don’t have the patience for the decorating part. Cooking is certainly more my thing!

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bridget June 3, 2009 at 6:52 pm

It really does look great. I like the piping a little in from the edge. I’m so glad you liked it. It does look like an exceptionally complicated german chocolate cake recipe, but of course that just makes me intrigued. :)

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Cate June 3, 2009 at 7:12 pm

That cake looks AWESOME! I love the long and involved cake recipes…as long as someone else is going to do the dishes.

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Ally June 3, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Omg, just looking at the pic makes me think this cake is worth it. Good job!

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brannyboilsover June 3, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Just beautifukl.

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Kanella June 3, 2009 at 8:39 pm

I really enjoyed this post and tip my hat to you for taking on the challenge. The cake loooks delish. Thank God for dishwashers.

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Bellini Valli June 3, 2009 at 10:02 pm

I just know it was all worth it Elly!!!! German Chocolate cake used to be my absolute favourite. I don’t know if I have a favourite still…my eyes have been open wide.

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Annie June 3, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Oh my gosh, Elly, you are too sweet. I’m certainly not superwoman, but I’m glad you like my baking. That means a lot coming from you! This cake looks truly fab. I have been wanting to try it. German chocolate is my dad’s favorite cake but I haven’t attempted it yet – maybe this year!

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Ivy June 4, 2009 at 1:32 am

This is beautiful Elly and I am sure your husband enjoyed it. You did a great job with the piping as well. I don’t have the patience for this kind of job.

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maria June 4, 2009 at 10:01 am

I love German Chocolate Cake (my mom made it all the time when we were younger, but not so often anymore). This looks absolutely delicious … I could seriously stick a spoon in my screen right now and spoon out the coconut pecan filling from the top! That’s my absolute favorite part of the entire cake. But the whole thing sounds amazing, including the rum syrup. Delicious, not to mention beautiful!

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Colleen June 4, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Sometimes I feel like I need a nap after baking too – especially after clean-up lol. And this is why I rarely make cakes! But yours looks delicious – nice job!

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Ellie June 4, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Hahaha, I love your rant. But I believe you when you say this recipe is worth the hassle – it looks AMAZING.

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Erin June 4, 2009 at 5:48 pm

What a beautiful cake! I’ve had this recipe on my list to make and you’re making me want to try it sooner!

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Susan from Food Blogga June 4, 2009 at 6:37 pm

This cake is so worth the calories. :)

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Kerstin June 4, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Wow, it definitely looks worth all the effort! What a gorgeous cake and that coconut/pecan topping is calling my name!

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bluejeangourmet June 4, 2009 at 11:58 pm

agreed! I made this cake for a friend’s party because its his favorite and he called it the best German Chocolate Cake he’d ever had. definitely worth it!

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pigpigscorner June 5, 2009 at 4:21 pm

This is beautiful!

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Cakelaw June 6, 2009 at 12:58 am

I think this cake looks magnificent Elly! Terrific job, especially as you are generally not a baker. It sounds delicious – I will have to remember this one as a special occasion cake to try. I know what you mean about the washing up – ikes!

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tobias cooks! June 6, 2009 at 3:43 am

Well, this look great! Respect. You worked with german accuracy.

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Kevin June 6, 2009 at 2:53 pm

This is one of my favorite cakes and it looks amazing!

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Singing Horse June 7, 2009 at 11:28 am

Great looking German chocolate cake! Finally, indeed! I’m really glad to see such a beautiful cake coming from you. I hope you have more fun baking more awesome things in your kitchen.

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Erin June 7, 2009 at 11:50 am

I was wondering how this turned out! The picture looks really pretty, and it sounds like the taste was pretty awesome. I really don’t like coconut, so I’ve never tried German Choc cake, but if I ran across one that looked like yours, I might have to try it!

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Jackie @ PhamFatale.com June 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm

I can already imagine all the calories in my hips. But oh my, it looks so worth it. German chocolate blackout cake are my guilty pleasure. Gotta go back run on my treadmill. lol

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Michelle June 7, 2009 at 6:36 pm

This looks amazing Elly! I love baking, but I feel like I’m horrible at cooking because I don’t have a feel for adding ingredients and tasting, etc. I do much better with a recipe :)

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Cara June 7, 2009 at 8:21 pm

I think your piping looks pretty :)

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Melissa June 9, 2009 at 7:51 am

Oh YUM! I love German Chocolate Cake and this recipe looks fantastic! You did an amazing job!

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Lexie June 9, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Your cake looks AMAZING! Looks like you did such a great job! If I am ever up for a challenge, I will have to try and make this :)

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elly June 10, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Thanks so much everyone for all your kind comments, seriously. It means a lot coming from this non-baker. It looks like the trick of only photographing about 1/3 of the cake worked, in terms of making it look like I did a really awesome decorating job. Haha!

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truenorth67 June 11, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Elly, you put German and cake in the title…that’s half the sale right there. The topping is what slays me…way ta go…awesome baker you!

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ash June 12, 2009 at 10:09 pm

this recipe looks like its worth it! looks fab!!

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bethany June 13, 2009 at 10:15 am

This cake looks fantastic!!!

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Sophia January 14, 2011 at 9:32 am

This cake look fabulous! So rich and delicious! You should consider entering this cake into Recipe4Living’s 5th Birthday Recipe Contest! The site is turning 5 years old, and we’re giving away a Scharffen Berger gift basket to the top birthday cake that’s submitted!

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Chelsea May 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I’m planning on making the halved version of this recipe like you did, so I end up with only one 9 inch layer, but I was wondering if it would make sense to half all the other components as well? Thanks!

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elly May 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I halved everything. You will definitely want to halve the rum syrup because it makes a ton. I would not quite halve the filling, because I wished I had a little more. The frosting really depends on whether you plan on doing a lot of decorating work, put some in the middle in addition to the coconut filling, etc. For me, half of it was just fine.

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Paula October 18, 2014 at 10:49 am

This beautiful cake became a Birthday favorite last year. Now, my daughter-in-law and son-in-law have requested it for their Birthdays this year. Off to the kitchen I go. I too planned to make 1.5 recipe of the filling. This cake is work, yes, but soooooo worth it!

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