German Chocolate Cake


Is this the most classic Southern cake? It is definitely on the list.

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 10 mins
12 serves

German Chocolate Cake is Southern baking at its best. Despite the name, German chocolate cake was born in Dallas in the 1950s. This dessert remains just as popular today, thanks to its ridiculously rich Coconut-Pecan Frosting. That's why we're bringing you an all-star recipe for this classic cake; keep it in your repertoire and pass it on in the family for many years to come. It all starts with three layers of rich, decadent chocolate cake. Strong-brewed hot coffee added right to the batter helps to keep the cake moist, while also heightening its chocolatey flavor; the addition of buttermilk makes this cake truly Southern. Whipping the egg whites and folding them into the batter gives this cake additional structure to hold up to the heavy frosting. Do seek out German's sweet chocolate baking bars—they give the cake a delicate chocolate flavor that doesn't compete with the Coconut-Pecan Frosting. Fluffy chocolate cake layers form the base of this stunning dessert, but the real star of the show is the Coconut-Pecan Frosting. This is the signature element that defines a German Chocolate Cake. The enigmatic frosting, composed primarily of coconut and pecans, is so thick that you won't be able to spread it on the regular way—instead, press it gently into the sides and top of the cake using a small spatula. We guarantee that after one bite of this dreamy cake, you'll be hooked—it might even become your new go-to celebratory recipe. Serve this impressive, rich cake with a cold glass of milk or a cup of coffee. You've earned it.

German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting

Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis


  • 2 (4-oz.) German's sweet chocolate baking bars, chopped

  • ½ cup strong brewed hot coffee

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for pan

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 4 large eggs, separated

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 cup whole buttermilk

  • Parchment paper

  • Coconut-Pecan Frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together chopped chocolate and hot coffee in a medium microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH until melted and smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring mixture after 30 seconds. Set aside.

  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugars with a heavy-duty stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add melted chocolate mixture and vanilla, and beat on low speed until blended. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended after each addition.

  3. Place egg whites in a separate clean bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Gently fold into batter. Divide batter among 3 9-inch round cake pans lined with parchment paper.

  4. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 24 to 28 minutes. Remove pans from oven; gently run a knife around outer edge of cake layers to loosen from sides of pans. Cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove from pans; transfer to wire racks. Discard parchment paper. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Press slightly warm Coconut-Pecan Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Let stand until frosting is completely cool and set, about 15 minutes.

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