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German Chocolate Cake Recipe

German Chocolate Cake
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Introduction to German Chocolate Cake

History and Origin

German Chocolate Cake is a delightful paradox in the world of pastries. Contrary to what its name suggests, this cake does not hail from Germany, but rather, owes its name to an American. In 1852, Samuel German, an English-American chocolate maker, developed a type of dark baking chocolate for the Baker’s Chocolate Company. The product, named “Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate” in his honor, became the star ingredient in the cake we know today.

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The actual recipe for German Chocolate Cake first appeared in a Dallas newspaper in 1957, credited to a Texas homemaker. This recipe, which used German’s chocolate, became a nationwide sensation in the United States. Over the years, it has evolved from its original iteration but has consistently remained a beloved dessert. Its rich history is a testament to the cake’s enduring appeal and the serendipitous nature of its creation.

Key Ingredients and Flavors

The allure of German Chocolate Cake lies in its unique combination of ingredients that create a symphony of flavors. The cake itself is known for its mild chocolate flavor, achieved by using the specific German’s sweet baking chocolate. This chocolate imparts a gentler cocoa taste compared to more robust dark chocolates, making it distinctive in the realm of chocolate cakes.

However, it’s the frosting that truly sets German Chocolate Cake apart. A rich blend of coconut and pecans, mixed into a caramel-like base, crowns the cake. This frosting not only adds texture but also a complex sweetness that complements the chocolate layers. The interplay of the moist, tender crumb of the cake with the crunchy, gooey frosting creates a contrast that is both delightful and satisfying. These key ingredients and their harmonious flavors are what make German Chocolate Cake a timeless classic in the dessert world.

Detailed Recipe and Preparation

Recipe Overview

German Chocolate Cake is a decadent dessert that combines a rich, mild chocolate cake with a sweet and nutty coconut-pecan frosting. The preparation involves baking three layers of chocolate cake, creating the signature frosting, and assembling the layers with generous amounts of frosting in between. The total preparation time is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, with an additional 30 minutes for cooling. This cake is perfect for special occasions or as a weekend baking project, offering a rewarding blend of flavors and textures that are sure to impress.

Ingredients List

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Coconut-Pecan Frosting:

  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Step-by-Step Preparation Guide

Preparing the Cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve the cocoa powder in boiling water and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add to the creamed mixture, alternating with buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  5. Stir in the vanilla extract and cocoa mixture until just blended.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cakes in pans for 10 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Tips for Baking and Assembling:

  • Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature for even mixing.
  • Do not overmix the batter to keep the cake light and fluffy.
  • Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the cakes if they dome during baking.

Frosting and Decoration

Making the Coconut-Pecan Frosting:

  1. Combine evaporated milk, sugar, lightly beaten egg yolks, and butter in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 12-15 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract, coconut, and pecans. Cool until it reaches spreading consistency.

Assembling and Decorating the Cake:

  1. Place one cake layer on your serving plate. Spread with a third of the frosting, leaving a small border around the edge.
  2. Add the second layer and repeat with another third of the frosting.
  3. Top with the final cake layer and spread the remaining frosting on top.
  4. Decorate with additional pecans and coconut flakes if desired.

Decoration Tips:

  • For a more elegant look, consider piping the frosting along the edges.
  • Toasting the coconut and pecans for the frosting can enhance their flavors.
  • Refrigerate the cake for an hour before serving to set the frosting perfectly.

This German Chocolate Cake recipe, with its luxurious layers and rich frosting, is sure to be a showstopper at any gathering. Enjoy the process and indulge in the delicious outcome!

Variations and Serving Suggestions

Variations of the Recipe

German Chocolate Cake is versatile, allowing for various adaptations to cater to different dietary needs and preferences. Here are some popular variations:

  • Vegan Version: Replace eggs with flax eggs (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water per egg). Use dairy-free butter and buttermilk substitutes, and choose a vegan chocolate.
  • Gluten-Free: Substitute all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend. Ensure that all other ingredients, like baking powder, are gluten-free.
  • Healthier Options: Reduce sugar and use a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup. Opt for low-fat buttermilk and unsweetened coconut flakes.
  • Nut-Free: Omit pecans in the frosting and consider adding seeds like sunflower or pumpkin for a crunch.
  • Chocolate Variations: Experiment with different types of chocolate, such as dark or semi-sweet, to alter the flavor intensity of the cake.

These variations ensure that German Chocolate Cake can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions or preferences.

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Serving and Pairing Ideas

German Chocolate Cake is a rich and indulgent dessert, best served in moderate portions. Here are some serving and pairing suggestions:

  • Serving Temperature: Serve the cake at room temperature to ensure the frosting is soft and the flavors are at their best.
  • Beverage Pairings: Complement the cake with a cup of strong coffee or espresso to balance its sweetness. A glass of cold milk or a dessert wine like Port also pairs beautifully.
  • Dessert Combinations: For a lavish dessert spread, pair the cake with lighter options like fruit sorbets or a citrusy lemon tart to offer a refreshing contrast.
  • Garnishing: Garnish with fresh berries or a sprinkle of cocoa powder for an elegant presentation.
  • Occasions: Perfect for celebrations, this cake can be a centerpiece at birthdays, anniversaries, or as a special treat during the holidays.

Whether enjoyed on its own or as part of a dessert table, German Chocolate Cake offers a delightful and satisfying end to any meal.

FAQs

Why is it called German Chocolate Cake?

Despite the name, German Chocolate Cake is not from Germany. It’s named after Samuel German, who developed a type of baking chocolate for the Baker’s Chocolate Company in the 19th century. The cake became popular after a recipe using this chocolate was published in a Dallas newspaper in 1957.

Can I make German Chocolate Cake in advance?

Yes, you can bake the cake layers a day in advance. Wrap them in plastic wrap and store at room temperature. The frosting can also be prepared ahead and refrigerated. Assemble the cake on the day of serving for the best taste and texture.

How do I store German Chocolate Cake?

Store the cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It usually stays fresh for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, consider freezing the cake layers without the frosting.

Can I freeze German Chocolate Cake?

Yes, the cake layers can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap and place in airtight containers. Thaw at room temperature before frosting and serving.

What are some tips for the perfect German Chocolate Cake?

Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature for even mixing. When making the frosting, cook it over medium heat to prevent curdling. For the cake, don’t overmix the batter to maintain a light and fluffy texture. Lastly, allow the cake layers to cool completely before frosting to prevent the frosting from melting.

German Chocolate Cake is more than just a dessert; it’s a delightful journey through taste and history. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or new to the kitchen, this cake offers a rewarding experience and a delicious outcome. Enjoy the process and the delicious results!

German Chocolate Cake recipe

German Chocolate Cake Recipe

This German Chocolate Cake recipe offers a delightful combination of rich chocolate layers and a unique coconut-pecan frosting. Perfect for special occasions or as a luxurious treat, this cake is sure to impress with its balance of flavors and textures.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 500 kcal

Equipment

  • Three 9-inch round cake pans
  • Mixing bowls
  • Electric mixer
  • Saucepan
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wire cooling rack
  • Spatula for frosting

Ingredients
  

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Coconut-Pecan Frosting:

  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the Oven: Set your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
  • Prepare the Cocoa Mixture: In a small bowl, dissolve the cocoa in boiling water and set aside to cool.
  • Cream Butter and Sugar: In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  • Combine Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Mix Batter: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with buttermilk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients. Stir in the vanilla and cocoa mixture.
  • Bake the Cake: Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Make the Frosting: In a saucepan, combine the evaporated milk, sugar, beaten egg yolks, and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, coconut, and pecans. Cool until thick enough to spread.
  • Assemble the Cake: Spread frosting between layers and on top of the cake. If desired, also frost the sides of the cake.
  • Serve and Enjoy: Once assembled, let the cake sit for a bit before slicing to allow the frosting to set.

Notes

  • All ingredients should be at room temperature for optimal mixing.
  • The cake can be made a day ahead; just store the layers at room temperature and the frosting in the refrigerator.
  • For a less sweet frosting, reduce the sugar quantity in the coconut-pecan frosting.
  • Toasting the pecans for the frosting can enhance their flavor.
Keyword German Chocolate Cake Recipe

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