German Chocolate Cake 2.0

German Chocolate Cake

I’m generally not one to brag. But guys, I’m kind of a German chocolate cake expert. Really.

You see, my husband’s all-time favorite, “if you could choose one thing to eat for the rest of your life” dessert is German chocolate cake.

And he requests it for LITERALLY every. single. special. occasion. in. his. life.

We’re talking birthdays. Anniversaries. Promotions. New jobs. New houses. New babies. Arbor Day. (Okay, no, we don’t actually celebrate Arbor Day. But you get the picture.)

We’ve been married eight years this August, so I’ve made approximately 23988948594543 German chocolate cakes in my life. If that doesn’t make me an expert on the subject, I don’t know what does.

And trust me when I say that if there’s a new twist on the German chocolate cake out there, I’ve tried it. I mean, you can only make the exact same cake so many times before you just get bored out of your ever loving mind.

German Chocolate Cake

I’ve made German chocolate brownies. German chocolate cupcakes (a given). German chocolate cookies. Mini German chocolate cakes. German chocolate tarts. I’ve made the same cake in sheet cake form. Two layers. Three layers. Round. Square. You name it, I’ve tried it.

I tell you all of this to impress upon you the importance of this next statement: this particular cake right here is absolutely, without a doubt, the best of my career.

Now. If you’re a German chocolate cake purist, you should probably stop reading right now. Because this is not the German chocolate cake that you know and love. Full disclosure: there is actually zero German chocolate in this cake. Nada.

But if you are a lover of the chocolate-coconut-pecan combo but find yourself wishing for just a little something MORE in that German chocolate cake, read on, dear friend.

First and foremost, I’ve swapped out the traditional German chocolate for some high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder. Because a) I can never find that annoying little bar of Baker’s German chocolate in any of my favorite grocery stores and b) I never really thought it tasted that great to begin with. Why settle for a bland bar of baking chocolate when there are so many better chocolates in the world just begging to be discovered and used?

German Chocolate Cake

Next, I’ve simplified the whole cake-making process down to one bowl. Yes, you read that right. Game-changer. Because, quite frankly, I make this cake so often that I just needed something a little less involved. And a delicious cake shouldn’t require every. single. dish. in. your. kitchen. to be dirtied, right?

I’ve also decided to go with a coconut pecan frosting that uses sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk. Because necessity is the mother of invention (i.e.: I forgot to grab evaporated milk at the grocery store and already had the sweet stuff in my pantry).

And finally, I’ve added a layer of chocolate buttercream frosting to the top of this lovely. Because more chocolate is always better. Always.

This recipe will make one 2-layer, 9″ round cake. However, I chose to make four 4-layer, 4″ round cakes. The chocolate buttercream recipe makes enough frosting to completely cover your cake, so if naked cakes aren’t your thing, then by all means, frost that baby all over. This cake is totally customizable, so the sky’s the limit!

And yes, that is a sad little German chocolate cake macaron on top of my cake. Thanks for noticing. I had this vision of a layer cake studded with perfectly airy and delightfully crunchy macarons. But alas, days with 1000% humidity are not conducive to macaron experimentation (finicky little cookies). And while I hesitate to even call that little cookie a macaron, yes, it was insanely delicious. I promise to share the recipe once I perfect it. If today’s attempt was any indication, you’re going to need this one in your repertoire!

German Chocolate Cake

German Chocolate Cake

Active time: 45 minutes (plus time for frosting/decorating)
Start to finish: 2 hours
Makes one 2-layer, 9″ round cake

For the cake
2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

For the coconut pecan frosting
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
Pinch of salt
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup of chopped pecans

For the chocolate buttercream frosting
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 1/3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut parchment paper circles to fit the bottoms of your cake pans. Butter the bottoms of your pans, then insert the parchment circles. Butter the entire inside of the pans, then coat with a light layer of flour. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl.

Add the boiling water, then mix on low just to combine. Batter will be thin and watery.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the coconut pecan frosting
In a medium saucepan, whisk sweetened condensed milk, egg, and pinch of salt together.

Over medium low heat, whisk mixture constantly until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat.

Stir in coconut and chopped pecans.

Refrigerate until cool.

For the chocolate buttercream frosting
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it’s smooth, about 1 minute.

Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder to the bowl; mix until combined.

With the stand mixer running on low speed, slowly add in the milk and vanilla extract. Add the salt, and continue beating until well combined (about 2 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Increase the speed to high, and beat the frosting for an additional 2 minutes. It should lighten in color as you mix.

To assemble the cake
When cake layers and coconut pecan frosting are completely cool, assemble cake. Place your first cake layer on a cake stand or plate. If you’re making a 4-layer cake, cut your cakes in half horizontally using a serrated knife. Alternate layers of cake and coconut pecan frosting. Cover with chocolate buttercream frosting using an offset spatula or piping bag with fitted tip. Get creative!

Store cake covered in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.

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