This classic German chocolate cake starts with three layers of moist chocolate cake, then adds a pecan-coconut filling, and simple chocolate frosting.
For the Chocolate Cake:
- 2½cups+ 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 3cupsgranulated sugar
- 1cup+ 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1tablespoonbaking soda
- 1½teaspoonsbaking powder
- 3eggs(at room temperature)
- 1½cupsbuttermilk(at room temperature)
- 1½cupsstrong black coffee(hot)
- ¾cupvegetable oil
- 4½teaspoonsvanilla extract
For the Coconut-Pecan Filling:
- 1cupheavy cream or evaporated milk
- 1cupgranulated sugar
- 3egg yolks
- ½cupunsalted butter
- 1½teaspoonsvanilla extract
- 1cuppecans(toasted and finely chopped)
- 2cupssweetened shredded coconut(toasted)
For the Chocolate Frosting:
- 2cupsunsalted butter(at room temperature)
- 5cupspowdered sugar
- 8ounceschocolate(semisweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped)
- 2teaspoonsvanilla extract
- 2tablespoonsheavy whipping cream(if needed)
Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, grease the parchment, then flour the insides of the pans, tapping out excess; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl if you’re using a hand mixer), sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).
- Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pans in the oven. Continue to bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool the cakes (in the panon wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely. [Make-Ahead Tip! At this point you can wrap the layers in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for up to 1 day, or refrigerate for up to 3 days before frosting and serving. You can also wrap in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before frosting and serving.]
Make the Coconut-Pecan Frosting: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cream, sugar, egg yolks, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a low boil. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened (it should reach 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove from the heat and add the butter, vanilla, coconut, and pecans. Stir until the butter is melted and everything is thoroughly combined. Set aside to cool completely to room temperature before using on the cake. [Make-Ahead Tip! Once the filling has cooled to room temperature, you can cover and refrigerate it for up to 1 week before using it in the cake. Let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before using so it spreads easily.]
Make the Chocolate Frosting: Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments on 50% power, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, using the whisk attachment of your stand mixer or a hand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.
Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed to incorporate all of the chocolate. If the frosting appears too stiff to spread, add the optional heavy cream and beat until incorporated.
Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for up to 4 hours before using. [Make-Ahead Tip! The frosting can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature and re-whip before using. The frosting can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before using.]
Assemble the Cake: Place the first layer, top-side-up, on the center of a cake plate or serving platter. Spread one-third of the coconut-pecan filling evenly over the cake layer. Place the second cake layer, top-side-up, on top of the filling. Spread evenly with half of the remaining coconut-pecan filling. Place the final cake layer top-side-down and top with the remaining coconut-pecan filling. Frost the sides of the cake with the chocolate frosting and add decorative piping to the top edges, if desired.
- You can substitute 9-inch cake pans, but will need to reduce the baking time. Rotate the pans after 15 minutes, then start checking for doneness after 10 additional minutes.
- If you don't have buttermilk, add 1½ tablespoons of lemon juice or white vinegar to a 2-cup measuring cup, then add enough milk to make 1½ cups. Stir together, then use as directed in the recipe.
- If you are concerned about the caffeine in the coffee, you can substitute decaf coffee.
- If you cannot consume coffee, substitute hot water.
- You can make this cake using a hand mixer or stand mixer.
- Once the cake layers are completely cooled, you can wrap the layers in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for up to 1 day, or refrigerate for up to 3 days before frosting and serving. You can also wrap in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before frosting and serving.
- Once the coconut-pecan filling is made, it will still be quite thin, but will thicken as it cools. Once it reaches room temperature, you can cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.