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A large slice of German chocolate cake sitting on a white dessert plate with a fork next to it.

German Chocolate Cake

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Dessert
Keyword: German chocolate cake recipe, how to make German chocolate cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Cooling and icing: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 876kcal
German Chocolate Cake had been a favorite dessert of children and adults alike for generations. Our batter is not overly dense, but extremely flavorful and wonderfully chocolatey. The two types of icing put the cake over the top.
Print Recipe


  • 2 (or 3) 9-inch cake pans


For the Cake

  • Cooking spray for greasing the pans
  • cups cake flour all-purpose can be substituted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 4 oz sweet baking chocolate roughly chopped
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter 2 sticks, room temperature
  • cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs yolks room temperature (save the whites)
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup sugar

For the Coconut / Pecan Frosting

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 8 tbsp butter 1 stick, cut into chunks (can be chilled)
  • cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • cup pecans chopped

For the Chocolate Frosting

  • ½ cup butter 1 stick
  • cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar aka: confectioners' sugar, divided
  • ½ cup milk divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Make the Cakes

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Spray 2 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper that has been cut into a circle to fit the bottom of the pan. If desired, spray again, all over the inside and then sprinkle with a little flour.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • Pour the boiling water into a heat-proof bowl along with the sweet chocolate chunks. Use a whisk or spoon and stir until the chocolate has completely melted. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  • In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter on medium for 3 minutes, until fluffy. You may need to scrape down the edges once or twice. Add the sugar and beat together for another 4 minutes, until light and very fluffy. Again, scraping down the edges as needed.
  • Beat in the egg yolks, 1 at a time, making sure they are well incorporated before adding another yolk.
  • With the mixer running on medium-low, add in a third of the flour, and then half of the chocolate mixture, another third of the flour, and the rest of the chocolate, and then the rest of the flour. Mix until fully combined and the batter has formed. Stop the mixer.
  • In a bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks begin to form. Gently mix in the sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks have formed.
  • Fold the soft peak egg whites into the batter with a large wooden spoon. Continue mixing until no more white streaks appear.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the prepared baking pans.
  • Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the pans cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Then, gently run a sharp knife along the edge of the pan to help loosen the cakes from the sides. Carefully invert the pans. Gently tap on the bottom of the pans and lift them away from the cakes. Allow them to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Remove the parchment paper.

Make The Coconut / Pecan Frosting

  • While the cakes are baking, prepare the coconut/pecan frosting by adding the sugar (1 cup), evaporated milk (1 cup), 3 egg yolks, and butter (1 stick) to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
  • Cook until gently simmering and bubbly. Cook over medium-low heat for another 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut flakes and pecans. Allow to cool completely (the mixture will thicken as it cools).

Make the Chocolate Frosting

  • Place the butter in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave in 30-second intervals.
  • Mix in the cocoa powder and stir until combined. Add half of the milk and half of the powdered sugar. Use a whisk (or hand mixer) and mix until fully combined. Add the remaining milk and keep adding more powdered sugar until you have a slightly thick frosting. Add more milk if too thick, and more powdered sugar if too thin.

Assemble the Cake

  • Place one of the cooled cakes on a cake stand or plate. Use a spatula or spoon to spread half of the coconut/pecan frosting all over the top, just to the edges of the cake.
  • Top with the next cake and spread the remaining coconut/pecan frosting over the top, leaving about ½ to 1-inch along the edge of the cake without frosting.
  • Use a spatula to spread the chocolate frosting along the edge of the cake, and then pipe the remaining frosting along the top perimeter of the cake.


NOTE ON THE BUTTER: We misspoke in the video:  1 cup is 2 sticks of butter!  Sorry for any confusion.  For the recipe:  You'll use 2 sticks for the cake (1 cup), and one stick (1/2 cup) for the coconut/pecan frosting, and then also for the chocolate frosting.  That's a total of 4 sticks. 
See the video near the top of the blog post for a visual guide.  If you like the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel
Both frostings can be made up to a day in advance. 
If you prefer a more dense cake, omit the soft peak egg whites. 
The cake can be made a day in advance of serving.  Store covered at room temp for up to 3 days.  Cake slices will keep covered in the fridge for up to 1 week.  The cake freezes nicely for up to 2 months. 


Calories: 876kcal | Carbohydrates: 136g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 158mg | Sodium: 491mg | Potassium: 474mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 105g | Vitamin A: 1075IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 161mg | Iron: 4mg