German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

When it comes to dessert, David Lebovitz knows his stuff. So it should be no surprise that I love his German Chocolate Cake recipe. And when I say love, I mean that I LOVE this cake. I love it so much that I would eat a slice of this cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I confess, I had a slice of the leftovers for breakfast the day after I made this cake.

There is something about the combination of coconut, pecans and chocolate that is so perfect. This recipe excels at producing a cake that is moist and incredibly flavorful. The icing is creamy and extra chocolaty. Trust me when I tell you not to cut any of the steps in this recipe. The coconut-pecan mixture sandwiched between four layers of chocolate cake and the rum-sugar syrup are all absolutely necessary.

If you love German chocolate cake as much as I do, then you need to also check out my favorite Coconut Pecan Brownies. They are delicious bite-sized versions of German Chocolate Cake.

German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

This recipe does take a little extra time to prepare since you must make the cake layers, filling, syrup and icing. You must also wait for the coconut-pecan filling to thicken. However, this cake is well worth the time it takes to prepare and assemble.

German Chocolate Cake

Yield: 16 9-inch round cake
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Try this beautiful German chocolate cake that is rich and full of flavor and well worth the time and effort.
4 from 1 vote


For the cake:

  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, (2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted

For the syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum

For the chocolate icing:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream


To make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the edges of two 9-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper.
  • Melt the chopped chocolate with the water in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until smooth, then set aside until it cools to room temperature.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate. Add the egg yolks, one at a time.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture beating on low speed until incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk and the vanilla until combined. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients.
  • In a clean dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until the form soft, droopy peaks. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg whites just until incorporated.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling:

  • While the cakes are cooling, in a medium saucepan combine the cream, sugar, and egg yolks. Put the butter, salt, toasted coconut and pecan pieces in a large bowl; set aside. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and coat the back of the spoon (about 170-175 degrees F on an instant read thermometer). Pour the hot custard into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. It will thicken as it cools.
  • To make the syrup:
  • In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.

To make the icing:

  • Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and butter. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator until firm enough for icing the cake.

To assemble the cake:

  • Using a serrated bread knife cut both cake layers in half horizontally. Set the first layer on a cake plate. Brush well with syrup then spread 3/4 cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer. Set another cake layer on top. Repeat, brushing each layer with the syrup and then spreading 3/4 cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top. Ice the sides of the cake with the chocolate icing and pipe a decorative border around the top.


Source: barely adapted from David Lebovitz


Serving: 0g, Calories: 732kcal, Carbohydrates: 69g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 49g, Saturated Fat: 28g, Cholesterol: 168mg, Sodium: 306mg, Potassium: 300mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 50g, Vitamin A: 1125IU, Vitamin C: 0.3mg, Calcium: 86mg, Iron: 3.2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Ashley C.
If you try this recipe, don’t forget to leave a review below or share a photo and tag @spoonfulofflavor on Instagram.

69 comments on “German Chocolate Cake”

  1. Can I use rum extract instead of rum? If so, how much extract should I use?

    • Hi Diana, I wouldn’t recommend using rum extract instead of rum. The amount of the liquid in the rum plays an important role in the consistency of the syrup, so I’m not sure it would be the same without the rum.

  2. Do I need to add rum? Is there anything else I can use? Or will it make a big difference without the syrup layer?

    • I highly recommend following the entire recipe as it is written, it’s delicious! But it certainly won’t harm the cake if you skipped the syrup layer.

  3. Made this today – worked beautifully except my melted chocolate seized the first time – don’t know about melting chocolate with water? In any event, great recipe and I can only hope it tastes as good as it looks!! Thank you!!

    • I’m sorry to hear that you had problems with the chocolate the first time. I’ve never had an issue with the chocolate seizing with this cake. The water to chocolate ratio seems to work well for this recipe. Glad that it finally worked out. Enjoy!

  4. I just made this cake. It’s sitting and cooling right now and the filling is sitting as well. Roughly how long does the icing need to be refrigerated? It’s been in there for about 30 minutes and it has gotten thicker but it’s still really really thin. I made this for my grandparents after New Years party and I really wanted to impress those old timers!

    • I usually chill the icing for about an hour, but the time doesn’t matter so much as the consistency. Sometimes it takes more or less time. It should be thick enough to stay on the cake. If you think it is too thin then it probably is. Just chill it a little longer and check again. It will thicken up the longer it chills. I hope that you enjoy, Claudia!

  5. I made this cake a couple months ago, but I made it as cupcakes (for a work function). I find cupcakes are easier when lots of people want it (plus you can have one early and no one will ever suspect!). This recipe (though involved) was amazing. Every part of it turned out fabulously. I’m back here again, because my dad now wants one for his birthday and I can’t imagine any recipe being better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.