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. I made this for a co-worker’s retirement party and it was a huge hit! I gave it four star because the coconut filling was not enough to cover the two 9” cakes when cut in half. I ended up making a second batch for the filling and used all of it.  Definitely don’t try to use spiced rum vs the dark rum, there is a huge difference in taste.  I didn’t realize until I was about to put it on the layers and fortunately was able to get the dark rum. I loved the frosting! It was so creamy and not overly sweet. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’m using this filling to frost my favorite boxed brownies!!!

  3. Hi Ashley, I just found your site and have been reading through your site this morning and came across this cake recipe.   German choc cake is my husband’s favorite cake and my Dad and Grandma also love this cake.  So I am especially excited to see your recipe here and with the rum syrup!    Can’t wait to make this cake!!  Thank you for sharing and I love your site!!  :). 

  4. I have to say this cake was incredibly delicious. I did have to do a butter cream frosting but only because I was taking it to a barn raising and the heat would have melted your beautiful frosting. Thank you for sharing this recipe your details made it impossible to fail.

  5. This looks amazing , can this cake sit out or does it get melty. Want to take it to a auction but want it to hold up. Also what tip did you use for the piping?

    • Hi Angie, I wouldn’t recommend letting this cake sit out for too long unless it is in a cooler environment. I don’t remember exactly what tip I used, but I think it was a closed star tip.

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