German Chocolate Cake History and Recipe


People are often misled by the name “German Chocolate Cake.” Many think the cake is a German specialty brought over to North America by a German immigrant, many moons ago. I am here to tell you that story is not true and that in fact, German Chocolate Cake has nothing to do with the country of Germany at all. The name was actually coined by an American, who goes by the name of Sam German, and who happened to create a mild dark baking chocolate bar for Baker’s Chocolate Company in 1852. In his honor, the company called the chocolate bar “Baker German’s Sweet Chocolate.” Then, this chocolate was used in the very first recipe of German Chocolate Cake by a homemaker in Texas in 1957. How about that for a brief history lesson!

Although this recipe does not use Sam German’s chocolate, it is still full of very delicious tasting chocolate. The coconut, pecan icing on the other hand is straight from history and one that you cannot miss out on! On a side not, I wish German Chocolate Cake did have to do with Germany because than I could better understand the place my crazy sista is these days for school! Guess that will have to wait…

Makes one large 8-inch cake that could feed 8-12 people



For the German Chocolate Cake layers:

2 1/4 cups                                   Cake flour
3/4 cup                                        Unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp                                      Baking powder
1/2 tsp                                         Baking soda
3/4 tsp                                         Salt
1 cup                                             Hot coffee
1 cup                                             Buttermilk
1 1/4 cups                                   Unsalted butter, at room temp
2 1/4 cups                                  White sugar
5                                                     Large eggs
1 1/2 tsp                                     Pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup                                       Dark chocolate, melted and cooled

For the Coconut Pecan filling:

1 1/3 cups                                 Shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup                                           White sugar
1/2 cup                                      Unsalted butter
1 cup                                           Evaporated milk
1 tsp                                            Pure vanilla extract
3                                                   Large egg yolks
1 1/3 cups                                Toasted pecans, chopped coarsely



For the German Chocolate Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter 3 8-inch cake pans, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the coffee and buttermilk.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each one is incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. The mixture should look light and fluffy.
  • And the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee/buttermilk mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the melted chocolate.
  • Divide the batter in the 3 prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the cakes. Let cool on wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto drying racks and let cool completely. Remove parchment paper.

For the Coconut Pecan filling:

  • Preheat the oven to 300 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Spread half of the coconut on the baking sheet and place in oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.
  • In a large saucepan, stir together the sugar, butter, evaporated milk, vanilla, and egg yolks. Bring the mix to a boil while stirring constantly. When the mixture begins to boil and thicken, remove from the heat and stir in toasted coconut, regular coconut, and the pecans.


  • Place the pan over an ice bath (a large bowl filled with ice) and stir the mix until cool. May take 10-15 minutes.

Assemble the cake:

  • Place one cake on a platter. Trim the top if necessary so that it creates a flat surface and spread 1/4 of the filling on the top. Add next layer, trim and frost with another 1/4 of the filling. Add the third layer. Frost the entire cake with remaining filling. 
  • Cake will keep in an airtight container for 3 days. Have fun and enjoy this “German specialty!”



4 responses to “German Chocolate Cake History and Recipe

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