Killer German Chocolate Cake

Forgot to mention the other day that I also made a German Chocolate Cake along with a tray of Chicken Paprikash for that staff Oktoberfest party I attended last weekend.   I  titled the post Killer because it really KILLS the competition.  The taste and presentation is totally worth all the time, eggs and butter it requires.

Did you know that German chocolate cake is really an American invention?  Neither did I until after I volunteered to make it, being that the party had an Oktoberfest theme.  When searching for the definitive recipe I found some interesting facts about the name.  And its ingredients.

Samuel German, who was born in England and emigrated to the US, worked for Baker's Chocolate Company.  The company at the time only produced unsweetened chocolate.  In 1852 he formulated a sweet version of the chocolate, eventually sold as  Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate in his honor. 

The first version of German cake appeared in cookbooks in 1877, but the classic version we enjoy today was born unto a homemaker in Texas a little about 60 years ago.  Her name has been lost in antiquity, but versions of her recipe, a multi-layered butter-rich buttermilk chocolate cake slathered in a caramelized coconut-pecan frosting, are still very popular.

Cake at party, in process of demolition.

The original version of this classic cake was called German's Sweet Chocolate Cake, but somewhere down the line the name was shortened to simply German Chocolate Cake.  Tradition says to use Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate and Baker's Angel Flake Coconut,  but you can sneak in your fave brands ... no one will notice the difference.  Or care, since they will be in a sugary chocolate coma.

German Chocolate Cake
Adapted from:  Kraft Recipes
Yield:  1 massive 3-layer cake, 16-20 thin servings
Note:  cake layers can be made a day in advance.  Loosely cover each layer individually and refrigerate until assembly.

Chocolate Cake:
cooking spray
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup water
4 eggs, separated
2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. table salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated (white) sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Coconut-Pecan Frosting:
4 egg yolks (reserve egg whites for another recipe)
1 (1 oz.) can evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed)
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up
1 pkg. (7 oz.) sweetened shredded coconut (2-2/3 cups)
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans

Prepare chocolate cake:

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spritz the center of the bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round pans with cooking spray, then spray the sides of the pans. Line each pan with parchment (the light spritz will help the parchment stay in place). Set aside.

Microwave chocolate and water in 1-quart heat-safe bowl on 100% power for 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 minute. Remove from oven; continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a 1-quart bowl. Set aside.

Beat egg whites in small mixing bowl with electric mixer on high speed using whisk attachment until glossy and stiff peaks form (when mixer is stopped and whisk is lifted, tips do not fall over); set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer fitted with beater attachment at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to medium; blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. With mixer running on low, add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, starting and ending with dry mixture, beating until well blended after each addition.

With mixer on low, add egg whites; stir gently until well blended. Carefully pour mixture into prepared pans. Wipe off any spills (to prevent burning).

Bake 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Immediately run small spatula around cakes to loosen. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks; cool completely.

Prepare Coconut-Pecan Frosting:

Beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla in 3-quart saucepan with whisk until blended.

Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12-15 minutes. or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Stir in coconut and nuts; mix well. Cool to desired spreading consistency.

Carefully peel parchment from 1 cake layer; place on serving plate.  Spread one-third of the frosting on the cake all the way to the edges.  Peel parchment from second cake layer and center on top of frosted layer.  Spread another third of frosting on second layer.  Repeat with third.

Cover and refrigerate cake up to two days.  Remove from fridge an hour before serving.  Cut thin slices and serve.


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