Old-Fashioned German Chocolate Cake Recipe

Old-fashioned German chocolate cake is one of the best recipes for chocolate lovers. It comes as no surprise that people around the world serve it on a daily basis, because it's jaw-dropping good and packed with chocolate in every single bite. According to Apple Annies, German cake actually has roots in the United States, which may cause some people to scratch their heads. You see, an English-American baker by the name of Samuel German (see where the German came from now?), whipped up a unique and dark baking chocolate, which is used in this cake. Turns out, his concoction was incredibly tasty, and we're thankful to this day for the gift that Mr. German gave to us.

Recipe developer Catherine Brookes of Blue Sky Eating came up with this recipe for old-fashioned German chocolate cake, and it tastes just as good as it sounds. If you have tried it before, then you know what we're talking about — and if you haven't, then you're missing out! "The combination of pecans, coconut and chocolate in this perfectly moist cake is so delicious! It's a great twist on a classic cake with buttercream frosting, and really easy to make and assemble too," Brookes raves. "It would be great as a birthday/celebration cake or as a dessert for a dinner party." 

Gather the ingredients to make old-fashioned German chocolate cake

The first step in the process is to gather all of the necessary items that you will need to throw together this cake. Start with a few cups of flour, and then grab some cocoa powder. You will also need some baking soda and baking powder. In addition, be sure to pick up some salt, sugar, and vegetable oil. Then, pop by the dairy aisle and get some milk and eggs. Additionally, the recipe calls for boiling water, but you should have that at home already. Be sure to get evaporated milk, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and shredded coconut. Last but not least, you will need some pecans for the topping. 

Start preparing the cake batter

Now that you have all of your ingredients in front of you, we can get started with the prep work. For starters, go to the oven and preheat it to 350 F. Take out two round cake pans and both grease them and line them with parchment paper. This helps so that the cake doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and you have a nice, smooth layer. 

While you wait for your oven to preheat, there is more to do, so let's get right into it. Take out a mixing bowl and start to add your dry ingredients. Start with the flour and cocoa powder. Be sure to use a sifter when you pour each one into the bowl. "Sifting ensures there are no lumps which helps everything to combine more smoothly," Brookes shares. Continue adding dry ingredients to the mixing bowl, including the baking powder and the salt. Whisk all of the dry ingredients together to combine. Then, add the sugar and whisk again.

Add the milk and eggs

Once you have finished all of your dry ingredients, we can move onto the wet ones, as is common in most baking recipes. At this time, toss in the milk, oil, and eggs. For a little bit of sweetness, you can also drizzle in the vanilla extract. You will only need a bit of vanilla extract, but trust us when we tell you that a little bit goes a long way. Keeping along with the same theme, grab your whisk and mix everything one more time until it's just combined. Then, add the boiling water slowly. Whisk as you go until it's all combined — and just like that, you have your bake batter!

Bake the cake

We're moving and grooving and taking care of business. Doesn't it feel good? Next, take out your prepared cake pans and evenly distribute the batter between the two of them. Now comes the moment that you have been waiting for! Pop the cake pans into the oven and set your timer for 35 minutes. You can also check the doneness by inserting a skewer into the center of the cake and seeing if it comes out clean. If it does, you can take the cakes out. Once you remove the cakes from the oven, let them cool in their pans for about 10 minutes. Then, transfer them to a wire rack and let them cool completely.

Make the frosting

Now, it's time to move on to the frosting, because what cake could possibly be complete without some frosting? Take out a saucepan and add the evaporated milk and egg yolks first. Before you turn on the heat, whisk the milk and egg yolks together. Then, add the sugar and whisk it again until it's dissolved. Next, toss the butter into the pan and heat it on a low-medium setting. Be sure to whisk the mixture constantly until the butter melts — this should only take about 10 minutes or so.

Add the pecan, coconut, and vanilla extract

Remove the pan from heat and add in the pecans, coconut, and vanilla extract. Stir everything together, and then set the saucepan to the side to let it cool. As the mixture cools, it should slightly thicken, and there you have your frosting. One of the wonderful things about frosting is that it is easy to make, and we always think that homemade is better than store-bought. Now, set the frosting to the side for a moment, as you will need it shortly.

Assemble the cake

So, you have your cake and the frosting, and now the only thing that you have left to do is combine the two together. Be sure that both of them have fully cooled before you begin to frost the cake. Start by spooning and spreading half of the frosting over one of the cake layers. Once you do that, place another cake layer on top and then spoon and spread over the remaining frosting. The last thing to do is to decorate the top of the cake with extra pecan halves. If you don't like them, no sweat, just leave them out! 

Serving suggestions and leftover tips

Another one of our favorite parts about this cake in particular is that there is plenty to go around, making it great for a crowd. Each cake yields 12 generous-sized slices. Brookes provides a few great suggestions on what to serve this decadent cake with. This is wonderful on its own, but Brookes also recommends serving "with ice cream, cream or some fresh berries." If you have anything left (which is unlikely seeing as it's so good), "leftovers should keep for up to 3 days at room temp (in airtight container)." There's nothing better than a big slice of old-fashioned German chocolate cake, and with this recipe, it's never been easier to whip it up in your kitchen!

Old-Fashioned German Chocolate Cake Recipe
5 from 118 ratings
Recipe developer Catherine Brookes came up with this recipe for old-fashioned German chocolate cake, and it tastes just as good as it sounds.
Prep Time
Cook Time
slice of cake on plate
Total time: 1 hour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ⅓ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups shredded coconut
  • 1 ½ cups toasted pecans, chopped
Optional Ingredients
  • pecan halves for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and line 2 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine. Add the sugar and whisk again.
  3. Add the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and whisk until just combined.
  4. Gradually pour in the boiling water, whisking as you go, until combined.
  5. Evenly distribute the mixture between your prepared cake pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean.
  6. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Make the frosting by adding the evaporated milk and egg yolks to a large saucepan and whisk them together (not on the heat).
  8. Add the sugar to the saucepan and whisk again until dissolved.
  9. Add the butter to the pan and heat on a low-medium setting, whisking constantly until the butter has melted. This will take about 10 minutes.
  10. Remove the pan from the heat and add the pecans, coconut, and vanilla extract. Stir everything together and set aside to cool. It will thicken slightly as it cools.
  11. Once the cake and coconut pecan frosting have both cooled, assemble the cake. Start by spooning/spreading half of the frosting all over one of the cake layers.
  12. Place the second cake layer on top and spoon/spread over the remaining frosting.
  13. Optionally decorate the cake with the halved pecans, then serve and enjoy.
Calories per Serving 682
Total Fat 39.8 g
Saturated Fat 17.1 g
Trans Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 112.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 79.0 g
Dietary Fiber 6.4 g
Total Sugars 56.0 g
Sodium 301.0 mg
Protein 9.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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