Today is Mom’s birthday. Go Mom! I won’t tell you which birthday it is, since she’s a tad shy about that. I’m just gonna say she had me when she was very very young. Nearly criminally young. Not that she’s a criminal. I don’t think.
Got anything to confess, Mom?
Grandma used to make this, her favorite cake, for her on her birthday. Which was pretty nice of her considering she wasn’t her mom, but her mother-in-law.
Naturally I assumed it was some secret family recipe, scrawled in chickenscratch cursive on a spattered and yellowed recipe card. Lovingly tucked into a battered tin box. Like something in a soft-focus “Mom, what do you do on those not so fresh days?” commercial.
I asked Mom the other day where to find the recipe.
“It’s on the back of the Baker’s Sweet Chocolate box,” she said.
Oh. Okay, then.
the cake is a lie
It’s not handed down from German immigrants. It’s named after the guy who owned the Baker’s chocolate company. His last name was German. No, it wasn’t German. It was German. As in Bob German. Or Phil German.
I know. It’s confusing. Have some cake; you’ll feel better. And for gods’ sake, whatever you do, do not read the nutrition information at the bottom of the recipe. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
And the recipe was invented by a homemaker in 1957 and published in a Dallas newspaper. The rest, as they say, is history.
I’m going to keep calling it “German chocolate cake” though. It just makes life easier.
the cake is real. ta da.
It turned out really well. I used pecans Aunt Geri sent as packing material in the gift box a couple Christmases back. Pretty handy having relatives with pecan trees.
Mom and Sis said it was as good as Grandma made it. It’s a pretty sweet cake, not in the cool sense but in the omg diabetic coma sense. I made it as written, because for some reason my white whole wheat flour, which is my go-to flour for quick substitution, tastes stale. I think it came that way, because I got it into the freezer the moment I brought it home.
So what we have here is a very moist cake made with 4 ounces of sweet German chocolate. It’s a bit labor intensive what with the beating of the egg whites and stuff, but that’s what keeps it light as well. It’s not dense-feeling at all.
The frosting is sheer decadence. Four egg yolks, butter, sugar, evaporated milk, sweetened coconut, and chopped toasted pecans. I mean shit, this cake has everything.
Look. You don’t frost the sides. You’re not supposed to frost the sides on this cake. Trust me. You’ve had enough sugar already. I don’t need you bouncing off the walls even more.
german chocolate cake
Adapted from the Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate box. You always know you’re getting the real high-end recipes with me.
prep: I forgot. This cake takes a while.
oven: 350 degrees
1 package (4 ounces) Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup water
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
Line the bottoms of 3 9-inch round pans with parchment or waxed paper. Grease the sides.
In a microwave-safe bowl, nuke the chocolate and water until it melts, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir after 1 minute; it’ll probably be melted already.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pout in melted chocolate mixture and vanilla and mix well. Add half the flour mixture and mix well, then half the buttermilk, blending that in as well. Repeat with the rest of the flour and buttermilk.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the batter. Pour into the three prepared pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 15 minutes, then remove layers from pans and let them cool completely on the wire racks. You’ll probably have to run a knife or spatual around the sides of the pans to get them to remove cleanly, but it works.
Spread the coconut-pecan frosting on each layer, for three total layers of frosting. Don’t frost the sides.
the coconut-pecan frosting:
4 egg yolks
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
7 ounces flaked sweetened coconut (about 2-2/3 cups)
1-1/2 cups pecans
Spread the pecans in a large skillet. Toast over medium-low heat about five minutes, shaking often. They’re done when they’re warm and you begin to smell pecans. Remove immediately from heat. Let cool, and chop into small pieces.
Beat the egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with wire whisk until well blended.
Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat for 12 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. The original directions say to look for a “golden brown” color but it won’t be golden brown; it’ll be more of a dark french vanilla color. Remove from heat.
Add coconut and chopped pecans; mix well. Cool to room temperature, or until it seems thick enough to spread. I spread it when it was still quite warm, and it worked out fine.
Nutrition information per serving: 624 calories; 38g fat; 161mg cholesterol; 324mg sodium; 67g carbohydrate; 2.8g fiber; 52g sugars; 7.8g protein; 16% vitamin A; 2% vitamin C; 12% calcium; 10% iron