German Chocolate Cake

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Lately I’ve been pretty excited for plums, peaches and nectarines. I wasn’t quite expecting to be baking a decadent chocolate cake in the middle of August, but life and family like to change plans. Anyway, I’m glad they do because I finally get to share here one of my all time favorite desserts.

German chocolate cake IS the birthday cake in my family as both my dad and I choose it almost every single year (oh, how my mother must have suffered). This year was my dad’s turn. And, since my parents were traveling the weekend before his birthday, the responsibility of said cake passed to me.

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There really is no better way to make German chocolate cake than in the traditional layer cake fashion. My mom once tried to make it into a bundt cake. We soon realized the ratio of filling to cake was much too low. The three layers allow for optimum filling coverage. Not that I’ve studied the subject extensively or anything…

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And although it’s traditional, this recipe has a bit of a twist in that it replaces the lighter, sweet chocolate cake with more of a decadent dark chocolate cake. This mixes nicely with the sweetness of the filling. I’ve tried different filling recipes, but keep coming back to a modified version of the classic.

    German Chocolate Cake

    makes one 8-inch 3 layer cake

  • Ingredients

  • cake layers
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2-1/4 cups unbleached cake flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) strong, hot coffee
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk
  • 1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups pure cane sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • filling
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 seven ounce package (about 2-2/3 cups) sweetened coconut
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

  • Directions

  • make the cake layers

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter pans and dust with cocoa powder (instead of flour which leaves white splotches on the chocolate layers), shaking off the excess.

    In a double boiler, melt dark chocolate. Remove from heat and cool. Quicken this step by cooling chocolate in the refrigerator.

    In a medium bowl, sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together coffee and buttermilk.

    In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about three minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping sides of bowl down after each addition. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the coffee/buttermilk mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a spatula, fold in the melted chocolate.

    Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Batter should fill pans about half to two-thirds of the way full. Smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer cakes to a wire cooling rack for 20-30 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack and remove pans and parchment to let cool completely.

    make the filling

    In a large saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, evaporated milk and vanilla until well blended. Add sugars and butter and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 12 minutes, until mixture is thickened. Remove from heat. Mix in coconut and pecans. Cool to room temperature.

    assemble the cake

    Trim tops of cakes to level out surface, if necessary. Place first cake layer on platter or cake stand. Spread one third of filling on top. Add second layer and spread another third of filling on top. Follow with final layer and top with remaining filling.

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