Authentic German’s Chocolate Cake
This Authentic German’s Chocolate Cake is the original recipe for this super moist, mild chocolate cake, and it’s frosted with the most delectable Pecan Coconut Frosting that you’ll ever eat!!
Back in the 1950s, this wonderful cake became very popular, and I requested it for several of my childhood birthdays. Oops, I’m telling my age. Today it is still just as popular as it was back then, although we now see many variations of the recipe, and most of them called German Chocolate Cake, dropping the “s” on German.
This original recipe is made using Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, The chocolate is a bar of mild sweet chocolate, thus resulting in a mild chocolate cake. The recipe can be found on the inside wrapper of the Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Bar.
Many bakers today, replace the chocolate bar with dark chocolate. Sorry, I just can’t do it. I’ve enjoyed this authentic German’s Chocolate Cake for years, and I’m not changing a thing. Besides, if you’re substituting the chocolate with any other chocolate, you’re not making an authentic German’s Chocolate Cake.
How to make Authentic German’s Chocolate Cake
It takes a few minutes to prepare the cake filling for this cake, but trust me when I say it is totally worth the effort.
- Line three 9-inch cake pans with wax paper. Grease the paper and insides of pans. Lightly dust them with cocoa powder tapping out the excess cocoa powder.
- WHISK THE EGG WHITES: Separate 4 egg whites from the yolks and reserve the yolks for the batter. Place the egg whites in a large bowl of a stand mixer and use the whisk attachment to whisk them to stiff peaks. Place them in the refrigerator while mixing the batter..
- MIX THE BATTER: Melt the chocolate bar in some hot water until it melts. Set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Then add the chocolate, egg yolks, some sugar & vanilla. Mix everything together until well combined.
- Add the buttermilk and dry ingredients alternately to the mix. Don’t over mix the dry ingredients.
- FOLD IN EGG WHITES: Gently fold in the beaten egg whites, using a spatula. It’s important to gently fold in the egg whites. If you mix them with the mixer, you’ll deflate them, and you want them to remain fluffy.
- Divide the batter equally between the cake pans.
- Bake the cake layers for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out with just slightly moist crumbs on it. Don’t over bake.
HOW TO MAKE THE PECAN COCONUT FROSTING
A delicious pecan coconut frosting completes this wonderfully moist chocolate cake. This original German’s Chocolate Cake cake doesn’t call for frosting the sides. If you want to frost the sides, simply make 1 1/2 batches or even double the recipe. I suggest doubling it because you’ll be eating quite a bit with a large spoon. Trust me! 🙂
- In a medium saucepan, I combine butter, evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla.
- Cook it over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickened. This takes about 12 minutes for a single batch, and 3 to 4 minutes longer if you make 1 1/2 batches.
- Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes and frost the cooled cake layers.
Pro tips for making this recipe
- Separate the eggs a few minutes before making the cake. It’s easier to separate cold eggs. Whisk the egg whites when they are room temperature. Egg whites whip up with more volume when they are at room temperature.
- Don’t mix the whipped egg whites into the cake batter. Gently fold them in with a spatula. You will see some white streaks left in the batter. That’s okay.
- Sift the cake flour first, then measure it by using the spoon and level method, (spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with the edge of a knife). Measuring unsifted/compacted flour results in too much flour and a dry cake.
- If you don’t have buttermilk you can make a buttermilk substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a 1-cup measuring cup, then filling it to the 1-cup line with milk.
A Frequently asked question about this cake
How did German’s chocolate cake get its name?
German’s chocolate cake is named after Samuel German, the inventor of a dark sweet chocolate. The name of the chocolate is German’s sweet chocolate after Mr. German. The cake is therefore named German’s Chocolate Cake after the chocolate. It has nothing to do with the country. It’s name after Mr. German. Today most people don’t realize the cake was named after a person, therefore they drop the S on German.
You might also like this recipe for Cocoa Brownies with Coconut Pecan Frosting!
If you make this recipe, please rate it and leave a comment on how it turned out. I love to hear from you!Print
Authentic German’s Chocolate Cake
- Prep Time: 60
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 90
- Yield: 14 Servings 1x
- Category: Cake
- Method: Bake
This is Authentic German’s Chocolate Cake, made with German’s sweet chocolate. It’s a very moist and sweet light chocolate cake, slathered with a to-die-for pecan coconut frosting!
For the Cake
- 1 package, Baker’s German’s sweet chocolate, 4 ounces
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon real vanilla
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (sift then measure)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon soda
For the Frosting
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 stick real butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
- 1 1/3 cups flaked sweetened coconut
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the Cake
- Prepare three 9″ round cake pans, by lining them with rounds of wax paper. Grease and the insides of the pans and the wax paper rounds and dust them with cocoa.
- Place the water in a measuring cup and heat in a microwave until it’s very hot. Break up the chocolate bar and drop into the water. Stir it once or twice with a spoon and set it aside to cool.
- Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, placing the yolks in a small bowl and the whites in the large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, or use a hand mixer.
- Sift the cake flour into a bowl. Remeasure and place back into a sifter or wire mesh strainer. Add the salt and baking soda and sift again. Set aside.
- Using the whisk attachment, mix the egg whites on high speed for a couple of minutes until they form stiff peaks. Transfer to a smaller bowl and refrigerate until ready to fold into the cake batter.
- Add the butter and sugar to the same mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until they are light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and mix until they are fully incorporated.
- Add the buttermilk and dry ingredients alternately in three additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients only until incorporated. Do not over mix.
- Gently fold in the beaten egg whites with a spatula. It’s okay if you see specks of egg white in the batter.
- Spread the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake layer, comes out with only a moist crumb on it.
- Transfer the cakes to a countertop. Let sit for five minutes. Run a sharp knife around the inside edges of each cake pan. Slightly shake each pan to ensure that the cake is not sticking to the pan. Invert each cake layer onto a wire cooling rack. Peel off the wax paper rounds and let the cake layers cool while making the frosting.
For the Frosting
- Place the milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter and vanilla in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat while stirring slowly but constantly until the mixture has thickened. This usually takes about 12 minutes. If you double the recipe, it takes 3 to 4 minutes longer.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and add the coconut and pecans. Mix to combine and frost the cake as desired.
- Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
- The frosting recipe is meant to frost the top and in between the layers of the cake. If you desire to frost the entire cake, you might want to double the recipe. This will increase the cooking time by about 3-4 minutes. I make 1 1/2 batches of the frosting and I don’t frost the sides. I love the frosting and like lots of it between and on top of the layers.
- The cake and frosting hold up well at room temperature. The frosting will not break down as some frostings do after a couple of days.
- This cake can also be baked in a 9 x 13 pan.
Keywords: German's Chocolate Cake, cake recipes, chocolate cake, cake, german chocolate cake, desserts, cakes,
This is just the best cake ever. I have made it for years but couldn’t find my recipe and it’s not on the german’s chocolate package anymore. The best compliment on my baking ever came from this cake. I was told by a friend of my aunt’s that owned a local very upscale restaurant that it was the best cake she ever ate! Thanks for putting it online!
Hi Pamela, You are welcome! Happy baking!! 🙂
How do you melt the chocolate in hot water without it seizing up? By letting the water cook a bit, adding more hot water? I’ve always melted chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. This though is the same recipe my grandmother used and I’ve always had chocolate seize up in water. Thanks!
Hi James, Yes, you need to place the water in a measuring cup and heat it in a microwave until it’s very hot, but not boiling. Break up the chocolate bar and drop it into the water. Stir it once or twice with a spoon and set it aside to cool. I’m assuming you’re using the baking as listed in the recipe and not chocolate chips.
Can all purpose flour be used in this recipe or must it be cake flour
Hi Veronica, Yes you can. However, cake flour is a finer milled flour. I recommend sifting the all-purpose flour and for every cup of flour, remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in its place. Do this and sift again.
Can this be made in a 13 x 9 pan?
Hi Sherri, I don’t suggest making this in a 9 x 13 pan. This cake makes 3 layers and is too much for a 9 x 13 cake pan.
Hi Sherry, I made this recipe yesterday and used a cookie sheet and it came out perfect.Then I trimmed it to fit in my cake carrier.
This is the closest recipe I have found to the original Bakers German chocolate cake recipe that was inside of the German chocolate bar, the only difference is it used sifted all purpose flour and 2 sticks of butter in the icing and that extra 1/2 stick of butter does make for a tastier frosting for sure, soooooo good.
My cake turned out dry. Any ideas why? I followed the recipe to the latter!
Hi Mercy, Sorry your cake turned out dry. It should always be moist. It’s hard to say without seeing you make it. A couple of things could be…make sure to use cake flour and sift it, then measure it. If you substitute all-purpose flour for the same amount, it will be dry. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff, then just gently fold them back in. I hope you’ll try the recipe again. It really is a great recipe!
This cake is amazing… turns out perfect every time
Hi Vet, I’m so glad you like it as much as I do. Happy Easter!! 🙂
Are you spooning the flour into a measuring cup and leveling? Makes a difference.
This was the first German Chocolate Cake that I have attempted from scratch. I won’t be looking for a new recipe. This is a keeper. My husband loves a good German Chocolate Cake so I made this just for him. And I will be making it again.
Hi Debbie, I’m so glad it was a hit. This was my favorite birthday cake growing up. It never disappoints! 🙂
You don’t say how long you bake the layers… with 3 layers guessing they will be thinner than usual.
I would check the layers after 20 minutes with a toothpick, but these will probably take longer. There are three layers but they are still pretty thick layers.
Made 2 layers. Turned out good. Cocoa dust a nice touch I see why you make extra frosting. It is too die for
Hi Mark, So glad it turned out great. Yes, that frosting!! 🙂
Can I use 8” cake pans?
Hi Connie, You can…however, don’t overfill them. You will have some leftover batter. Don’t fill your pans over 2/3 full.
My icing curdled. What happened? Thanks
Hi Sharon, I’m not sure how it could curdle. Did you whisk it constantly while it was cooking? If you don’t, the eggs will cook up into pieces of cooked egg, which might be what you’re thinking is curdled. Most recipes like this, call for tempering the eggs first, but this old-fashioned recipe does not. That’s why it’s really important with this recipe to whisk it constantly so the eggs won’t cook up into scrambled eggs. I’m not sure what else you could have done. I hope this was helpful.
Could I use a 10×15 pan for jujus cake
Hi Wanda, You could, but it will be a very thin cake like a jelly roll cake.
Can I make Cupcakes with this recipe? I made the cake and it was perfect!
Hi Jennie, Yes, you can. I’ve not made cupcakes so I’m not sure of the quantity. I’m guessing at least 30 cupcakes.
I’ve tried this recipe for cupcakes and it does NOT work. Ive been baking from scratch many years and I specialize in cupcakes. When I make cupcakes with this recipe it literally shrinks in the liner and most pull fully away from the liners. Delicious recipe though. I’m actually back on Pinterest to find a better recipe to use for German chocolate cupcakes. This recipe is a keeper for cake though!
I wish you had listed the bake time in the recipe steps! I ended up underbaking mine at 20 because in the comments you specified only to “check at 20 minutes” and not “bake for 30, but check at 20”. A toothpick came out clean at 20, but they’re definitely not right. I didn’t have time to go get more ingredients and rebake, and I’m feeling really disappointed with how the cake turned out.
Also, please list the butter measurements in cups instead of sticks! “Sticks” is a “measurement” you only find in the US, and I ended up second guessing myself and triple checking when trying to do 1.5 times the frosting with European butter that comes in a 8oz block. I had printed out the recipe and couldn’t see that the original recipe you shared a photo of gives the instructions in cups and with actual bake time.
Hi Lisa, I’m so sorry about the confusion on the recipe. The bake time on the top of the recipe card states 30 minutes. I’m not sure where you’re seeing the 20 minutes. I read over the recipe. However, in the instructions, it states to bake until a toothpick comes out clean. All ovens vary. If a recipe states 30 minutes, I go ahead and test it at 25 minutes. However, it could take as long as 35 minutes. It just depends on your oven. Thanks for the tip on measurements. I hope it turns out better for you next time.
Oh! I never think to look at the top of recipes for cook time, most recipes I’ve encountered aren’t helpful or accurate. They often lump all time spent cooking, so it might be bake time AND stovetop time. Most recipes include bake time in the step by step instructions, so I’ve never gone by the time estimates at the top of any recipe. I got 20 minutes from the comment section after the recipe, where someone else asked “what bake time do you use”. I definitely misinterpreted your answer, “start checking at 20 but it should take longer”.
Thanks for responding, anyway! The frosting does taste amazing and even if the cake falls apart on me today, I’m sure it will be delicious 🙂
Reading over the recipe, it sounds just like the recipe my mother and grandmother used! One comment about the instructions, though: waxed paper does NOT go in the oven. Parchment paper is what should line pans. Wax paper is water-resistant but not heat-resistant. The wax melts, even if you don’t see it.
Hi Heather, Sorry to disagree with you, but waxed paper was used to line cake pans long before parchment paper came along. I’ve used wax paper for 40 plus years in cake pans and my mother used it before me. It peels off the bottom of cakes like a dream and it’s cheaper than parchment paper. Neither is safe at real high temperatures, but anything baked should be fine. This probably is the recipe your mom and grandmother used. This is the authentic recipe from the back of the Baker’s chocolate baking bar wrapper from years ago. Happy baking!
The BEST German chocolate cake EVER!! My friend requested it for her birthday. It was so spongy and airy, everyone loved it! I didn’t make it in 3 layers. I used a cookie sheet and it was perfect! Thank you for the recipe. This recipe is no longer on the chocolate box. Definitely will be making this again.
Hi! I’m confused about the melting chocolate part. Is the chocolate mixed directly into the water (drop into water) or is it separate and just melted by the water?
Hi Brandi, Yes, you drop the chocolate into the very hot water and allow it to melt.
Just to follow-up on the melting chocolate in water: you say to put it aside and then in step 6 you use the melted chocolate. Do we stir the chocolate into the water you melted it into? I have always been I structed to keep chocolate and water as far from each other as possible so am concerned I am not understanding fly. I do not want to mess this up as I cannot afford to buy ingredients again to re-make the cake. Thank you very much.
Good Morning, Yes, bring the water to a boil, then break up the chocolate bar into the water. Once it melts, mix it a little until it’s blended and smooth. Then add it as directed in the recipe.
I had an old label from a block of Germans chocolate from years ago but lost it I love your microwave shortcut. When this cake recipe first came out, microwaves were not a common appliance.
I was not able to get cake flour due to supply shortages, so your cornstarch addition was a great save. I will remember that in the future for other recipes. The flour I used was ap unbleached and I did sift and measure 3 times. Love this cake. I made extra frosting because, well, it is so darn good.
Thank you so much for posting this. It is in my favorites file on paper and digital!
No round cake pans. Other ideas?
Hi Nadine, You can try using square pans instead…3 8-inch or 9-inch. It’s too much batter for a 9 x 13 cake.
Can you frost the warm cake with hot frosting?
Hi Cheryl, Yes you can if you’re using the one from this recipe.
Delicious. Everyone loved this cake. Will definitely be making it again
I have tried this recipe twice. I’ve made it before in the past and it came out great. Last two times the cakes were flat. I followed the recipe on the box. I did use two pans instead on three. Would this be the cause? Shirley
Hi Shirley, Using two pans, as long as the batter will fit, should not be the problem. Did you beat the egg whites until stiff and gently fold them in? If so, the only other thing I can think of is testing your baking soda to make sure it is still active.
Hi , I’m in uk and we don’t have the German’s chocolate here. Can I use a substitute? Thanks
Hi Bev, Yes you can. Try looking for a different sweet/mild chocolate first, but you can use whatever you have there. If you use a darker more bittersweet chocolate, the cake just won’t have as mild a flavor.
Does anyone know if the butter is salted or unsalted?
Hi Lynn, It’s unsalted.
How many will this cake serve? I need enough for 12 people.
Also, does the cake turn out well if it’s done in 2 layers rather than 3, or do the recipe and cooking time need to be adjusted? If it can be done in 2 layers, what size pans should I use to accommodate all the batter, and how long should I bake it?
Even though my two 8” cake pans couldn’t handle all the batter and they ran over in my oven, there was enough cake left to get a good taste. It was delicious!
Hi Karen, Yes, this is too much batter for two 8-inch pans. You need to bake either three 8-inch layers or 3-nine inch layers. Yes, it can serve 12 people. It simply depends on how big you want to make the slices.
Can this cake be frozen? If so, for how long?
I would appreciate any tips on how make the cake ahead of time and have it ready for a New Year’s Eve birthday.
Hi Karen, Yes. You can freeze it for up to 3 months.
My cakes came out flat! They looked fine in the oven, toothpick came out clean but as they cooled they fell flat. The weather was awful that day, below zero temperatures, I don’t know what happened
Hi Sandy, It sounds like 1 of 2 things. Your baking soda could have been expired and no longer active or if you didn’t whip your egg whites until they formed stiff peaks and gently fold them in. Also, I’m guessing you did use buttermilk, not milk. The buttermilk and baking soda act together in this recipe. I hope this helps!
THANK YOU! Finally someone else who knows the difference… I’ve been searching for REAL German Chocolate Cake for years to no avail, THANK YOU!!
I have been looking for this exact recipe for years.Although I made it every year, I had to rely on my 76 yr old memory , I was more than happy when i found this. Thank you so much for putting it on line. My faMILY LOVES IT. Best Cake ever
Hi Janis, You’re very welcome! I agree…best cake ever! 🙂
Thank you for sharing this authentic recipe. It’s exactly what I was looking for. Most recipes or stores have the kind that add chocolate frosting to it, which is not how I first remember tasting it. Also, I don’t understand why people make it a sheet cake. The presentation of the round cake layers gives it an enticing look! Looking forward to making this!
My best friend and I had so much fun making this together yesterday for our German friend Willy’s birthday.. It’s his favorite cake. But to learn that it’s not really a “German” cake gave us a lot of laughs. Why this took several hours because we read and reread your instructions over and over so that we wouldn’t mess it up was also part of the fun! Anyway, I think we got it right – we won’t know until later today when we eat it but I have no doubts its going to be wonderful! For future bakers of this recipe, I highly recommend doubling the icing. We only doubled by half and wished we had more for in between the layers because it would look even prettier and because this icing tastes Ah-mazing! This recipe is a keeper!
Hi Nina, I’m sure Willy will love this cake. As far as the icing, I included the original amount, only because I wanted to stick to the original recipe. However, the original recipe doesn’t include icing on the sides. I like to cover the sides too and I often double the icing. It’s the best part and I like to eat some from a spoon. 🙂
Hi Cindy, Willy and everyone loved the cake! It’s possible more icing may have been too much. Next time I make this, I think I will try using unsweetened coconut, and measure/weigh the finished icing so I’ll know exactly how much to put on each layer. The bottom layer got skimped a bit, lol!! I like the look of not icing the sides. Such a fun cake to make!!
Sooo, a 9 13 is too small ? AND, a 10×15 is too big ? Am I understanding that right? I would like to make it for my friend’s birthday and it would just be easier to cut if it was rectangle.
Hi Dorothy, You can bake it in a 9 x 13 pan or the 3 layers.
1st time making this cake, and it came out perfect. Cake was super moist and not too sweet. Will definitely be making again
My mom and aunts made this recipe for special occasions. Carrying on the family traditions, I make this cake (the original recipe only) both in three layer cake form or in cupcakes. I get about 30 cupcakes per recipe.
I was disappointed when the recipe disappeared from the Baker’s chocolate package. I found this blog entry and want to thank you for keeping this in the public eye.
Just finished making 30 cupcakes. Doubled the frosting and they turned out just right.
My question is regarding the eggs in the cake batter. The top of the original recipe (list of ingredients) calls for 4 egg yolks unbeaten. But in the recipe says 4 egg whites whipped and save the yolks for the frosting.
So no yolks in the batter?
Hi Alice, Please see the following steps on the recipe card, Step 3…separate 4 eggs, step 5…whip the egg whites, step 6…add the egg yolks to the batter. There are more egg yolks in the frosting. I hope this helps.
Perhaps silly question. What should I use to grease wax paper and sides? Cresco?
Whhat should I use to grease wax paper and sides? Cresco?
Sorry…I meant Crisco?
Hi Miranda, I use solid Crisco. You can use also use butter.
Thank you so much! I am going to make this weekend and post.
Thank you! am going to make this weekend and post.
You are so welcome! 🙂
Thank you for the real recipe. Mine was lost and I found It is so hard to replace. I have made this cake a couple of times per year for the last 40+ years. The world is so bent on simplifying steps and minimizing ingredients that the best recipes are buried. This recipe is fantastic and just as I remember. The taste is beyond description. The cake literally melts in your mouth it is so fine. Sifting the cake flour makes such a great difference. Separating the eggs and beating the whites is essential. There is nothing comparable to the German Chocolate Bar and the Pecan Frosting. Thank you so very much for having the recipe available.
Hi Carol, You’re so welcome! It’s so frustrating to lose a great recipe, especially a vintage recipe that you can’t find. I’m so glad you found this. Happy baking! 🙂
Will this work in a bundt cake
Hi Sheree, I haven’t tried it in a bundt cake pan. However, it should work in a bundt pan as long as it’s a 10-inch. It will take a little longer to bake.
Hi Cindy, I accidentally purchased Baker’s unsweetened bar instead of sweetened. Would it be ok to double the sugar?
Hi Candace, No, I wouldn’t change anything. There’s 2 cups of sugar in the recipe, and your cake will be a little darker, but as far as taste, you will simply taste the chocolate a little more.
Memories, Memories. My mother always made this as a special cake at Christmas from the recipe inside the label but it is no longer there. My 78-year old self is so happy to find this which sounds like hers. I want to make it at Easter and wondered if I could freeze the layers ahead of time so I won’t be so rushed?
Hi Pat, Yes, you sure can freeze them ahead of time. I place wax paper between the cooled layers, and place them in my cake container and right into the freezer. Alternately, you can wrap each layer in plastic wrap, then in heavy foil.
What size pans (and how many) should be used if the recipe is being doubled or tripled?
Hi Arlene, To double, you would double the original, using six 9-inch cake pans. To triple, you would use 9 9-inch pans.
Has anyone substituted hot coffee for the water? I plan to make this wonderful cake next week!
Excellent recipe. Flavor perfect!!
What other brands of chocolate candy would you recommend using? I’ve been unable to find the Bakers German Chocolate with the cake on the front of the box. The one with the cupcake on the box gives the cake a different taste.
Hi LaTiece, The bar with the cake can be found on Amazon. You’re correct, the one with the cupcake contains 48% cacao, whereas the original one with the cake does not. I don’t know where you’re located, but I can find the one with the cake at my local Kroger and Walmart stores. If you must use a different baking bar, look for one that is sweet and doesn’t say 48% cacao, etc. I hope this helps! Good luck!
I’ve made this several times always turns out amazing. I’ve made in cake pans and cupcakes with no issue 21 minutes for cupcakes 350 degrees with oven thermometer. I use different recipe for frosting though.
12oz evap milk
1.5 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
4 egg yolks
1.5 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups coconut
1 1/2 cup pecans