German chocolate cake is one of my mother’s favorite desserts. The rich coconut pecan icing paired with moist Devil’s food cake is an unbeatable combination! To make this cake more polished, I put the icing on the inside and cover the cake with creamy, bittersweet chocolate ganache.
by volume by weight
3/4 cup brown sugar 149 grams brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar 149 grams white sugar
1½ cups all purpose flour 180 grams all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder 43 grams cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder 4 grams baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda 6 grams baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt 6 grams salt
2/3 cup milk 160 grams milk
6 tablespoons 84 grams
melted butter melted butter
2 large eggs 136 grams eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla 6 grams vanilla
3/4 cup hot water 180 grams hot water
1 can sweetened 14 ounces sweetened
condensed milk condensed milk
1½ cups shredded 113 grams shredded
1 cup chopped pecans 125 grams chopped pecans
1 tablespoon vanilla 12 grams vanilla
1 cup melted butter 226 grams melted butter
7 ounces bittersweet 210 grams bittersweet
4 tablespoons 75 grams corn syrup
Heat the oven to 350F and line the bottom of an 8 inch cake pan with parchment paper.
Sift all of the dry ingredients for the cake together into a large bowl.
Whisk all of the wet ingredients for the cake together.
Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry while whisking. Be sure to work out any lumps as you go. The batter will be thin.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
While the cake cools, prepare the filling.
Boil the can of sweetened condensed milk unopened for 2 hours.
Be sure that the can is completely covered with water throughout the cooking process. At the end of the 2 hours, remove the can from the water and allow to cool completely before opening. (If you don’t let the unopened can cool completely the pressure inside the can may spray the hot ingredients out and burn you.)
Mix the cooled sweetened condensed milk, which is now wonderfully caramelized, with the remaining filling ingredients.
To make the glaze, melt the butter completely and remove from the heat.
Add the finely chopped chocolate and stir until smooth.
Add the corn syrup and stir. Chill approximately 1 cup of the glaze until spreadable — about 1 hour. Leave the remainder of the glaze in the pan as you will need to reheat it.
To assemble the cake, trim the top of the cake flat and split the cake into 2 or 3 layers. I prefer 3 layers but that does take a little practice and the cake will taste just as delicious with 2 layers.
Flip the top layer of the cake upside down (cut surface up) and use as the bottom layer of the assembled cake. This avoids any rounded or uneven edges from where you trimmed the top of the cake. Spread half of the filling over the cake and then add the second layer of cake.
Cover with the remaining icing and then top with the last layer of cake. Flip this layer over so that the smooth side that was in touch with the bottom of the pan becomes the top of your cake. This way you have nice crisp edges and the smoothest surface for glazing.
Smooth the chilled glaze over the top and sides of the assembled cake. This provides as smooth a surface as possible for the glaze. (Notice in the picture there are a couple of uneven spots on the top of the cake. These will be smoothed out by the chilled glaze.)
Set up a glazing rack with the rack resting on a sheet pan lined with parchment.
Set the cake on the glazing rack and warm the remaining glaze just until fluid again.
Pour the glaze into the middle of the cake and then around the edge. There is a generous amount of glaze but pour it all as you will need a bit of extra.
Use a spatula to gently push glaze from the center of the cake so that it cascades down the sides over any spots that weren’t covered.
Gently tap the sheet pan on the counter several times to settle the glaze and smooth any spatula marks on the top of the cake.
Finish the edge with a bit of toasted coconut if desired. Pick the coconut up in your hand and press gently along the bottom edge of the cake.
This cake can be made using any dark Devil’s food cake. This recipe produces a dark, moist cake but feel free to use another cake recipe if you like. You can also leave out the pecans if you are allergic to tree nuts or if you simply don’t care for them.
I strongly suggest that you practice cutting cakes into layers. The layers will be uneven at first but the only way to improve is to keep at it. Go slowly and take your time. However, this cake can also be baked as 2 or 3 separate layers. The top of each layer will still need to be trimmed so that it is flat but you can avoid slicing the cake if you really want to!
If your glaze doesn’t turn out perfectly, you can toast some extra coconut and press it all the way up the sides of the cake. The top will still have smooth, shiny glaze and any imperfections will be hidden!
This recipe also makes delicious cupcakes. Use a melon baller or a spoon to hollow out a bit of the cake from each cupcake (from the top) and fill with the coconut pecan icing. Spread or pipe the tops with chilled glaze.