German Chocolate Cake

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Everything about this German Chocolate Cake makes it absolutely addicting, from the tender chocolate cake to the decadent Coconut-Pecan Filling and that velvety chocolate frosting. When we were dreaming up how to make the best German chocolate cake ever, we knew we had to use the choicest pecans out there. Pecans are so crucial to the success of a German chocolate cake because of that pecan-rich filling that works double time as a custardy topping. That’s why we used Sunnyland Farms‘s Raw Georgia Pecan Halves. Sunnyland’s pecans are larger, richer, and fresher than any other store-bought pecans, so they make for the ultimate German chocolate cake.

2.0 from 1 reviews
German Chocolate Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (220 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs (200 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups (313 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (21 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 1½ cups (360 grams) whole buttermilk
  • 6 ounces (175 grams) sweet baking chocolate, melted and cooled
  • Creamy Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)
  • Coconut Pecan Filling (recipe follows)
  • Garnish: flaked coconut, chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate until combined. Divide batter between prepared pans, smoothing tops with an offset spatula.
  4. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
  5. Place 2 cups Creamy Chocolate Frosting in a piping bag fitted with a medium open star tip (Wilton No. 4B). Pipe a thick border around top edge of first cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread half of chilled Coconut Pecan Filling inside piped border. Top with remaining cake layer. Pipe Creamy Chocolate Frosting in a swirl pattern around top edge of cake layer, and spread remaining Coconut Pecan Filling inside border. Spread remaining Creamy Chocolate Frosting on sides of cake. Garnish with coconut and pecans, if desired.

2.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Chocolate Frosting
Makes about 4 cups
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup (21 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅔ cup (160 grams) sour cream
  • 5 cups (600 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  1. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add cocoa, and beat at low speed until combined. Beat in sour cream until smooth. With mixer on low speed, gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth and creamy.

2.0 from 1 reviews
Coconut-Pecan Filling
Makes about 4 cups
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (247 grams) evaporated milk
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large egg yolks (57 grams)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups (180 grams) packed sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup (113 grams) chopped pecans*
  • 2 teaspoons (8 grams) vanilla extract
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, evaporated milk, butter, egg yolks, and salt until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, and stir in coconut, pecans, and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
*We used Sunnyland Farms Raw Georgia Pecan Halves.


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  1. Hi, for the cake portion of this recipe what would be considered “sweet baking chocolate” I.e bittersweet, semisweet, milk, etc.


  2. Hey, I made the frosting to its exact instructions, but it wouldn’t keep its form. The cakes were completely cooled (next morning) but it still ran when I piped and the tip didn’t hold form. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for reaching out! We are sorry to hear that your icing did not hold. Is it possible that your ingredients were too warm? Also, did you weigh your confectioners’ sugar or use a volume measure? If the ingredients were too warm (softened butter is stiffer than room temperature butter), then placing the bowl of icing in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes should help. Beat the mixture once more before piping. Also, if there was not enough confectioners’ sugar added, the icing may be too loose. You can add more confectioners’ sugar until the desired consistency is reached. Hope this helps, and happy baking!

  3. Follow up: I finally decided to cook the icing again even with nuts/coconut in it and I did. It turned out great! Cake is moist and delicious and icing is just right!
    I absolutely LOVE your magazine! I also made the Nusszopf in Jan’s mag….it is gorgeous and was gone in about 10 mins! Now on to lemon curd!!

  4. Really wish people would stop calling this German chocolate cake. It’s not German, nor is it called that. It’s German’s Chocolate Cake, named after Samuel German, the man who invented the recipe.

    • Hello Beachmom,

      We actually talk all about the story behind German’s Chocolate Cake in our Origin of a Classic feature for January/February 2022. For anyone looking to learn more about the true origin of what we now commonly refer to as German Chocolate Cake, be sure to check out the feature!

      Thank you, and happy baking!


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