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German Chocolate Cake

According to my husband, this is the best German chocolate cake recipe in the whole world. Every bite has a light crunch from the pecans, a sweet taste of coconut and a drizzle of chocolate. —Joyce Platfoot, Wapakoneta, Ohio
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. Bake: 30 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    12 servings


  • 4 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature, beaten
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ICING:
  • 1 teaspoon shortening
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate


  • Line three greased 9-in. round baking pans with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper and set aside. In small saucepan, melt chocolate with water over low heat; cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Beat in 4 egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  • In a small bowl and with clean beaters, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a fourth of the egg whites into creamed mixture; fold in remaining whites.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 24-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For frosting, in a small saucepan, heat sugar, milk, butter and egg yolks over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla extract. Cool until thick enough to spread. Spread a third of the frosting over each cake layer and stack the layers.
  • In a microwave, melt chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cake.
Editor's Note
Warmed buttermilk will appear curdled.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 910 calories, 53g fat (28g saturated fat), 237mg cholesterol, 511mg sodium, 103g carbohydrate (76g sugars, 4g fiber), 11g protein.

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  • kbbradford
    Dec 27, 2018

    My husband loves German Choc cake and was looking for a new recipe. I’m an avid baker and a huge fan of TOH. The cake turned out to be a gorgeous dessert with a phenomenal taste. BUT, it was so crumbly. It was impossible to slice and serving was so embarrassing. I researched causes for crumbling and none of them really applied. Not sure what happened but I should not have made it for guests without a trial run.

  • Kristy
    Nov 29, 2018

    I've made many german chocolate cakes over the years but this was definitely the best. I made it for my father's bday which happened to be Thanksgiving. Everyone loved it.

  • JazzSinginJoe
    Jul 31, 2018

    On February 2nd, 2018, I mentioned that I was going to try using a darker chocolate and that I'd update with the results. DON'T DO IT! I was not pleased with the results. Stick to this recipe. Anything else is not German Chocolate Cake. Although ..... I did lightly toast the pecans and coconut and that was a very nice enhancement.

  • Bonnie
    May 16, 2018

    No comment left

  • Missakay76
    Feb 26, 2018

    First of all, if you are short on time, just pass this recipe by. Head on down to the grocery and pick up a box of cake mix and a can of icing. No one's judging you. However, if you have some time, and want to make a stunning cake, this is the recipe for you. This was my very first attempt at making a German Chocolate Cake, and I am thrilled with the results! After reading the other reviews I compromised and just lined the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, and used a really good quality cooking spray I got from Williams Sonoma on the paper and on the sides. It came out beautifully, and the paper came off fine. The icing mixture thickened in the pan just as the recipe said it would (yes, evaporated milk IS the correct milk for the recipe), and after I added the coconut and the nuts I ended up letting it cool overnight and I frosted it in the morning. The only thing I would change is to make some more chocolate drizzle -- I wished I had enough to really drizzle down the sides, and if I had left more time I would have made another batch. But I will definitely be making this one again!

  • Ann
    Dec 4, 2017

    No comment left

  • sportsmombball
    Nov 12, 2017

    This is not my recipe, but as an avid baker and this being my all time favorite cake, the recipe is correct. Evaporated or "canned milk" as mom called it, is correct - not sweetened condensed milk. You cook the butter, sugar, eggs and milk together until thick. If you cool this in a sink of ice water and then add nuts and coconut you will have a much thicker icing as the oils in the nuts and coconut do not release like they do in hot. Be sure not to over fold egg whites in batter as even though batter has soda and buttermilk, the egg whites do help cake to rise.If your cake fell in center, I suspect it is where you texted it for doneness. Try baking a couple of minutes longer before testing.

  • Cynthianna
    Oct 10, 2017

    I have made this cake numerous times and it always comes out. My family and friends love this cake.

  • Linda
    Jul 27, 2017

    Hi, say; I am wondering if melting the chocolate with water means added together or use the water as a double boiler method? I made this cake and all three layers fell on in the center as well?!... hummm. I've made many cakes and never this problem just thinking out loud?!...

  • 2124arizona
    Jul 2, 2017

    We loved this cake!! It moist and full of chocolate flavor!! I will fix this often!!!