Coconut is a divisive food. Some people love it, some people hate it.
If you love it, then you probably love it with chocolate. The pair just belong together!
What I love most about this German Cake recipe is how simple and easy it is. You don’t even need a stand mixer. It takes just over an hour from start to finish. There’s no difficult buttercream making, assembly, or decorating.
Make it for your next birthday, potluck, or for anyone who loves German Chocolate!
How to Make German Chocolate Cake
How to Make a MOIST Chocolate Cake
There are two keys to a moist chocolate cake. First, be sure to follow the recipe as written. There are ingredients, like buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg yolk, and brown sugar that contribute to a moist and tender texture.
Second, be sure to measure your flour and cocoa powder correctly. The best way is to weigh it, the second best way is the spoon and level method. It’s super easy to accidentally add way too much flour and cocoa powder which will create a dry and / or dense cake. Check out my article on How to Measure Flour here.
Lastly, don’t over-bake the cake. Start checking for doneness with a toothpick at 30 minutes, especially if your oven tends to run hot.
Avoid using dark colored cake pans which will dry out the edges of the cake and cook faster. If that’s all you have, shave a few minutes off the baking time.
Do I have to use the espresso powder in this chocolate cake recipe?
No! Feel free to omit it. The espresso powder simply enhances the chocolate flavor and you can’t actually taste it. You can also use 1 cup of strongly brewed coffee in place of the espresso + hot water. Whichever is easier in your kitchen!
Why use vegetable oil instead of butter in chocolate cake?
Although I prefer the flavor of butter over vegetable oil, the oil helps create the feeling of moisture on the palate in this recipe. Just be sure to use fresh oil. Give it a sniff before using to make sure it doesn’t have an off smell (which would signal it’s oxidized). You can also use coconut oil if you prefer!
How to Make German Chocolate Frosting
Arguably the most important part of a German chocolate cake is that coconut-pecan frosting! You’ll see I actually forgo buttercream in place of the German chocolate frosting in this recipe. I found it was rich and sweet enough that buttercream was unnecessary. This saves time (and calories ha) and means you don’t need an electric mixer for any part of this recipe!
Start by melting the butter in a heavy duty saucepan. Add the milk, cornstarch, and sugar, whisking to combine. Whisk in the egg yolks. Cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture has thickened and comes to a boil, about 10 to 12 minutes total. It will continue to thicken as it cools, but don’t pull it off the heat until it’s about the thickness of slightly runny pudding.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, coconut, and pecans. Let cool until spreadable, about 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the warmth of your kitchen. You can also refrigerate the frosting to firm up even more if you need to. I don’t like mine to be too thick .
Can German Chocolate Cake be Frozen?
Yes! Wrap unfrosted un-cut cooled cake layers completely in several layers of plastic wrap. Place inside a freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge (do not defrost at room temperature or you will end up with mushy cake).
The frosting cannot be frozen because of the eggs inside. However, you can keep it in the fridge for up to 1 day before assembling the cake. Allow to warm up slightly at room temperature if needed to make it more spreadable.