Project Description

My grandmother was known for certain dishes. Strawberry shortcake, oily spaghetti (don’t ask), crab imperial. One of most popular was her German Sweet Chocolate Cake. It is funny, I actually remember the frosting more than the cake. She used to keep jars of it in the fridge and I remember sneaking bites of it here and there. Not that I would stick my fingers in a jar of frosting anymore…no, that would be gross, unsanitary…yeah…anyway…

Everyone loved that cake and we never knew exactly how she made it.

Until we found this hiding in her recipe box:

Oh, Grandma, you sly lady!

It kind of makes me love it even more. I like to imagine her walking into a party with this beautiful cake. Everyone gushes and requests the recipe – she smiles and says it is just an old family recipe and quickly changes the subject. No one is the wiser.

Love it.

I’m not gonna lie, regardless of its origin, this is one labor intensive cake. For lazy bakers like me, anyway.  You have to fold in egg whites – does anyone else hates this as much as I do? I try to be super careful, so it takes forever, my arm gets tired, then I get impatient and grumpy.

Amazingly, this cake is worth it.

German Sweet Chocolate Cake
Recipe Type: Cake
Author: Recipe from my grandmother/Baker’s Chocolate (a combination of the new and old recipe)
  • 4 ounces German sweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 7 ounces sweetened, flake coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8 or 9 inch cake pans. The recipe called for lining the bottoms of the cake pans with wax or parchment paper, but I didn’t do that. I just greased it REALLY well! To be safe, you may want to use the parchment paper.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and add to the boiling water to melt. You can also microwave the water and chocolate together for about 1 1/2 minutes, if you prefer. I was trying to do it old school! Once smooth and melted, put into the fridge to cool.
  3. Sift together the cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition (save those egg whites – we’ll use them later!). Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture and the vanilla extract. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk; beat until smooth.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter.
  6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until knife inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before inverting into wire racks to cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting: Whisk together the egg yolks, milk, vanilla extract, butter, and sugar into a large pot. Cook over medium heat for 12-16 minutes, or until a light golden brown and thickened.
  8. Remove from heat and add the coconut and pecans. Stir well.
  9. Cool before frosting cake. Frosting will thicken while cooling.