German Chocolate Cake

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German Chocolate Cake by Rachel Grahmann
Story and Photos by Adriana Avila

Dessert is often identified as the best part of every meal, while comfort and Chinese food will always hold a special place in Rachel Grahmann’s heart, nothing will ever come close to her love of sweets, specifically homemade German Chocolate Cake.

While cooking is something Grahmann has always loved to do, her true passion lays photography and graphic design. A senior English-Communication Arts major from Victoria, Texas, Grahmann plans to graduate December 2014 and pursue a job in either graphic design or photography.

When she was a child, Grahmann’s family followed healthy eating habits; sweets were limited so she started learning to make some of her own.

“Most people have a sweet tooth; I have a mouth full of sweet teeth. I love dessert. Cookies, cake, anything thing with sugar,” Grahmann says. One father’s day, Grahmann put her cooking skills and sweet tooth to use and made her father his favorite cake, German Chocolate. It quickly became a shared favorite and, assuming from the dessert’s name that it was German, she felt a strong heritage connection.

“It’s not really from Germany. The guy who invented this specific chocolate bar for baking in 1852, – same year St. Mary’s was founded- was named Sam German and the first person to come up with the recipe was a homemaker in Dallas in the 1950s. I feel cheated,” Grahmann notes.

Despite that discovery, Grahmann continues to hold German Chocolate Cake as a favorite and it was her first and only choice of recipe to share. “It’s a lot of fun to create something you can also enjoy so much. It is fun, comforting, and once you learn, fast food and store bought never tastes as good. I just hate the cleanup. The perfect set-up for me would be to find someone I can bake for and then they clean everything up, that part is definitely the worst,” Grahmann says.

Grahmann offers a few tips for baking this sweet treat at home: “Take your time, and make a big mess, but only if someone else is there to clean it up. Also, don’t sample the ingredients along the way; did you know German chocolate bars are measured so that you use the whole bar? Yeah, neither did.”


For the cake:

  • ½ c water
  • 4 (1-oz) squares German sweet chocolate
  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 2 c white sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 2 ½ c cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 egg whites

 For the icing/filling:

  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 c evaporated milk
  • ½ c butter
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 1/3 c flaked coconut
  • 1 c chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 3-9 inch round pans. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat water and 4 oz chocolate until melted. Remove from heat and allow cooling. In a large bowl, cream 1-c butter and 2 c sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 4 egg yolks one at a time. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, and then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain. Pour into 3 – 9 inch pans Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cooling for 10 minutes in the pan, and then turn out onto wire rack.

Filling: In a saucepan combine 1 c sugar, evaporated milk, ½ c butter, and 3 egg yolks. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool until thick enough to spread. Spread the filling between layers and on top of cake.

Makes 8 servings.

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