My mom’s German Chocolate Cake recipe dates back to the 1960s, a traditional German dessert made of three layers of homemade chocolate cake filled and topped with a delicious coconut pecan frosting.
If it's old fashioned layer cakes you crave, you might also like my mom's Black Forest Cake or aunt Emily's Chocolate Fudge Cake. Both cakes are sure to be your new family favorites!
My dad's favorite birthday cake
My mom used to always make this old fashioned German Chocolate Cake for my dad's birthday. I recently asked her for the recipe and was so delighted she was able to find it in her file of old recipes. She said that she got the recipe from an old Alabama Pilot Club cookbook from the early 1960s. What is the Pilot club you ask? I looked it up and here's what I found... PILOT International is a community based volunteer service organization, founded in 1921 in Macon, GA, on the guiding principles of "Friendship and Service" through charitable projects, community service, education and research. (Isn't that sweet? I think I want to join!)
Ingredients you need for this cake
Semi-Sweet Chocolate - I used Baker's brand. It comes in a small red box near the chocolate chips aisle.
Butter – Use unsalted real butter, not margarine
Sugar – I used granulated sugar.
Eggs – Large eggs at room temperature, separated.
Cake Flour – I used Swans Down.
Cocoa Powder - Such as Hershey's Cocoa 100% Cacao.
Corn Starch & Baking Soda
Salt – I used Morton’s Table Salt.
Buttermilk - At room temperature.
For the coconut pecan frosting, you will need evaporated milk (from the can), granulated sugar, egg yolks, butter, vanilla extract, flaked coconut and chopped pecans.
How to Make german chocolate Cake
Note: This is just an overview. Scroll down for the full recipe.
Whip up the cake batter in one big bowl. I used an electric mixer (recipe follows).
Pour batter into 3 (8-inch) round cake pans that have been greased and lined with parchment.
Bake as directed and let cool.
Make the coconut pecan frosting on the stove top.
Fill cake layers with coconut pecan frosting, adding to the top of each layer (not the sides).
Top with pecan halves around the top edge of cake.
Serve and enjoy!
Now you can make your own German Chocolate Cake recipe from scratch. It’s such a special dessert. And the simple decoration is my favorite. This cake is so easy to make. You don't have to worry about smoothing any frosting on the sides of the cake. Just plop on the coconut pecan frosting and spread around a bit. You can put it together rather quickly once you have the layers baked and the icing is done. I hope you enjoy making this traditional recipe for the holidays!
more old fashioned layer cakes
Classic Southern Red Velvet Cake
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German Chocolate Cake
For the cake
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup boiling water
For the frosting
- 1 ½ cups evaporated milk or 1 can
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks, beaten
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ cup water
- 4 cups flaked coconut or 1 bag
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- 12 pecans halves, for garnish
For the cake
- Melt chocolate in the microwave (according to package instructions). Let cool slightly. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Add melted chocolate and vanilla; mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Add alternately with buttermilk and chocolate mixture; beat until smooth. Stir in boiling water until combined. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into three 8-inch round cake pans, lined on the bottoms with parchment and greased or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.
For the frosting
- In a small bowl, mix together the corn starch and water. Set aside. Combine milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter and cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickend, about 5 minutes. Add coconut flakes, chopped pecans and vanilla; stir until combined. Let cool. Spread between cake layers and on top of cake. Serve immediately. Store leftover cake covered in refrigerator.
All text and images © Lise Ode for Mom Loves Baking. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Disclaimer: Nutrition information shown is not guaranteed to be accurate. This post may contain affiliate links.
The German Chocolate looks very delicious. I would like to make this cake Bundt style. What adjustments in the ingredients would I need to make and what size Bundt pan should I use?
Hi, German Chocolate Cake is my favorite, but I do like the frosting on the side of the cake. Does it make a different in the taste of the ca(e?
Lise Ode says
Hi Viola, That's a great question. Feel free to frost the sides of the cake as well. It will taste good either way!
Actually, German chocolate cake isn't German at all! The real recipe title is German's Chocolate cake- a woman created the recipe and named after Samual German, a baker who worked for Baker's chocolate company and the creator of the chocolate used in the recipe.
Scott Wood says
German Chocolate cake is not a traditional German cake. It was created in Dallas, Texas in 1957 by Mrs. George Clay. This is well documented. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_chocolate_cake
Charlotte Moore says
Oh how delicious this looks. I have not made a German Choc.cake in too many years to count. I would have a very hard time not eating way too much if this was around. I sure would love to have a sample to taste. YUM!!!
Everyone that has eaten any of the Red Velvet Banana Bread has LOVED it.
Lise Ode says
Maybe you could make it for a party or the holidays when you have people over to help you eat it. Super yummy! Glad to hear you enjoyed the Red Velvet Banana Bread!