Traditional German Chocolate Cake — Salt & Baker


German Chocolate Cake is a mouthwatering dessert that has captured the hearts and taste buds of people worldwide. With its rich, velvety chocolate layers and delectable coconut-pecan frosting, this cake stands out as a classic favorite for every occasion. In this article, we will explore the origins of German Chocolate Cake, delve into its key ingredients, and provide you with a delightful recipe that will leave your guests craving for more.

The Origins of German Chocolate Cake

Contrary to popular belief, German Chocolate Cake does not originate from Germany. Its name is actually a tribute to Samuel German, an American chocolatier who created a type of dark baking chocolate in 1852. The name “German’s Chocolate” was later used in a recipe published by a newspaper in 1957, and over time, the possessive form was dropped, leading to its current name – German Chocolate Cake.

Key Ingredients that Make It Irresistible

1. Rich Chocolate Layers

At the heart of the German Chocolate Cake lies its indulgent chocolate layers. The secret to achieving the perfect texture and flavor lies in using high-quality cocoa powder or baking chocolate. The richness of the chocolate layers harmonizes perfectly with the sweetness of the coconut-pecan frosting, creating a symphony of flavors with every bite.

2. Decadent Coconut-Pecan Frosting

The defining feature of German Chocolate Cake is undoubtedly its luscious coconut-pecan frosting. Made with shredded coconut, chopped pecans, sugar, and evaporated milk, this frosting strikes a delicate balance between nutty and sweet. When spread generously between each chocolate layer, it transforms the cake into a delectable masterpiece.

3. Moisture and Flavor Enhancers

To elevate the taste and texture of the cake, certain moisture and flavor enhancers are incorporated into the recipe. Common additions include buttermilk, which lends a tender crumb and tangy undertones, and a touch of brewed coffee, intensifying the chocolate flavor without making it overpowering.

4. The Perfect Blend of Sugars

Achieving the ideal sweetness in German Chocolate Cake requires the right combination of sugars. Brown sugar, with its molasses notes, adds depth to the chocolate layers, while granulated sugar balances the sweetness of the frosting. The interplay of these sugars is what makes the cake a harmonious ensemble of flavors.

A Sumptuous Recipe for German Chocolate Cake


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • A pinch of salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease three 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined and smooth.
  4. Stir in the boiling water to the batter gradually. The batter will be thin, which is normal.
  5. Divide the batter equally among the prepared cake pans.
  6. Bake the cakes in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. To make the coconut-pecan frosting, combine shredded coconut, chopped pecans, evaporated milk, brown sugar, unsalted butter, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and turns a golden-brown color. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  9. Once the cakes and frosting are completely cool, spread the coconut-pecan frosting generously between the layers and on top of the cake.
  10. Serve and enjoy this delightful German Chocolate Cake with your loved ones!


German Chocolate Cake is a dessert that holds a special place in the hearts of cake enthusiasts worldwide. Its origins may not lie in Germany, but the delightful combination of rich chocolate layers and decadent coconut-pecan frosting is a testament to its timeless appeal. Whether it’s a birthday celebration, a holiday gathering, or just a simple dessert craving, German Chocolate Cake is sure to impress and satisfy. With this delectable recipe in hand, you can now create your own masterpiece and indulge in the sweet magic of German Chocolate Cake.