If you ask a German about German chocolate cake you will likely hear a response the to the effect of – “never heard of it”. This is because German Chocolate cake is not named after the country but rather after the chocolatier called Samuel German. How about that for a little slice of trivia to serve up with this decadent treat? (If you are itching for some authentic German cake consider Grand Cycling Tour of Alsace Plus! the Black Forest and try Black Forest Cake, a traditional German treat and a name sake of the Black Forest region!)
For the cake:
1 ½ sticks/171 grams unsalted butter (12 tablespoons), at room temperature, plus more for the pans
1 ¾ cups/254 grams all-purpose flour
½ cup/50 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ cups/300 grams granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces/113.5 grams semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
½ cup/120 milliliters brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
½ cup/114 grams plain whole milk yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
For the Filling:
2 cups/7 ounces/198 grams sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups/227 grams pecan halves
1 12-ounce can/354 milliliters evaporated milk
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
¾ cup/150 grams light brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons/57 grams unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350 F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the pans with parchment and butter the parchment. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and whisk to combine well. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl. Turn the mixer down to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, again scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla and melted chocolate until smooth. In a small bowl, combine coffee and yogurt.
With the mixer on low, add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix to combine. Add the coffee mixture and mix to combine. Then add the remaining flour mixture, scraping the bowl one more time to make sure everything has been combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, smooth the tops and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer cakes in the pans to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cakes and invert them onto racks to cool completely.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: On two separate trays lined with parchment paper, toast coconut and pecans at 325 degrees, stirring occasionally, until coconut is deep golden brown and nuts are fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully — coconut and nuts can quickly turn from golden to burned. Remove from oven, roughly chop the pecans, and transfer both coconut and pecans to a large bowl.
In a medium saucepan, cook evaporated milk, egg yolks, brown sugar and salt over medium heat, whisking at first and then stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened enough to leave a line on the back of a wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to let the mixture curdle. Lower the heat as necessary.
Remove from heat and add the butter, stirring until it has melted. Add vanilla and stir to combine. Add the milk mixture to the coconut and pecans, stirring to combine. This mixture will thicken slightly as it cools.
To assemble the cake, set one layer on a serving plate. Top with 1/3 of the coconut mixture. Repeat two more times, so the top of the cake is covered in coconut.
*Recipe and cake photo courtesy of NY Times Cooking