When I was little, we had a birthday tradition that the birthday girl (or boy) would get to take the first bite of cake, right from the edge of cake, before it had even been cut. And from looking through old photos, I remember that German chocolate cake made a frequent appearance at our birthdays. That first bite of sweet coconut and pecan caramel was always the best bite.
I don't think I've eaten German chocolate cake since I was a kid, and it occurred to me the other day that I'd never actually tasted anything but the canned filling. So from that moment I felt that I had to create a recipe from scratch and remember what I've been missing all these years.
German chocolate cake isn't even German at all, it's an American cake named after Sam German who developed the baking chocolate that was used in the original recipe. Now, I have to make a point of saying that what I like most about German chocolate cake is the coconut pecan filling, and not the cake itself, since the traditional cake recipe is too light for my taste when it comes to chocolate cake.
So I baked my favorite dark chocolate cake, with a little bittersweet chocolate melted and mixed into the batter for extra chocolateyness. With the cake cooling, I cooked the caramel, a simple mixture of cream, brown sugar and egg yolks, and then stirred in the coconut, pecans, vanilla and a pinch of salt. I even added a little Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, which made it even better.
I could have stopped at that point, with just cake and filling, and many people do. But I also whipped some fluffy chocolate buttercream which I piped into swirls all around the sides.
It was everything I remembered, but so much better, and seeing as how I planned to take the cake in to work, I refrained from taking a bite out of the side...
One Year Ago: Mini Pumpkin Pie Tartlets
Two Years Ago: Massaman Curry with Chicken and Jasmine Rice
German Chocolate Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened, special dark cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
- 1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons spiced rum (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon meringue powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 tablespoons milk or cream
Bake the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk, sour cream, oil, vanilla and melted chocolate and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Divide batter between the pans.
Bake for 25-27 minutes, until the center springs back and a toothpick comes out clean. Set the pans on wire racks, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely.
Cook the Filling:
In a saucepan, whisk together the cream, brown sugar and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture gets thick and bubbly. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the butter until melted, and stir in the pecans, coconut, vanilla, rum and salt. Set aside to cool completely to room temperature.
Make the Buttercream:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute. In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and meringue powder. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients by spoonfuls. Add the vanilla and milk and whip on medium high for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy.
Turn the cakes out of the pans. Place one cake on a cake board or serving pedestal. Fit a piping bag with a large open star tip and fill the bag with chocolate buttercream. Pipe a border of buttercream around the edge of the cake to serve as a "dam" for the filling. Spoon 1/3 of the pecan coconut filling onto the cake. Repeat with the 2nd and 3rd layers.
Spread a thin crumb coat around the sides of the cake and pipe the remainder of the buttercream in roses around the sides of the cake (or leave the sides of the cake unfrosted).
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen