One Serious German Chocolate Cake

I just got my butt seriously kicked at the gym. Like, I’m concerned about my ability to go from a standing to sitting position tomorrow. It feels good though right? Maybe not at the time—at the time, I was pretty sure I wanted to die—but afterwards, there’s nothing like the feeling of a good workout. It makes you want to be good to your body; to work out more often and harder; to push yourself more; to eat well and drink less. So obviously, coming off this high, I’m going to tell you about one of the biggest, most decadent cakes…maybe ever.

Wait, that doesn’t make sense…

Ok, so it doesn’t make any sense. But honestly, I’ve been sitting on this cake for over a week, and it’s killing me! So here we go. We’re all familiar with German Chocolate Cake: coconut, caramel and nuts ice a dense chocolate cake. This cake is a spin on that, but it turns each element up a notch so that the end product is….unbelievable.

First, instead of caramel, this recipe calls for dulce de leche. Are you familiar with dulce de leche? The simplest way to make it involves boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for an extended period of time until it caramelizes. Yes, you read right. Yes, unopened. Yes, it’s TERRIFYING ( I used the place-can-in-pot-and-leave-the-kitchen-immediately method). But omg guys, it is so worth the heart palpitations. What you end up with is an über-caramel that’s so creamy and intense, you’ll want to bathe in it.

Second, you toast the coconut and the nuts. How many times to do I have to say this: roasting makes everything better. Not only does the coconut become fragrant and nutty and more intense, but it also gains a great crunch, which is just fabulous within the creamy filling.

Finally, this recipe takes your traditional german chocolate cake and turns it inside out. The crunchy, creamy coconut icing goes IN the cake, which is then cloaked in a chocolate….I dont even know…icing? glaze? What do you call a grotesque amount of butter melted with an obscene amount of chocolate? You know what, just put the chocolate and butter in the pan and stop thinking about it. It’s for the best really.

This cake is kind of a lot of work, but you will not be sorry. If you order the steps correctly, it doesn’t take that much longer than your average fancy layer cake. The folks to which I served this cake deemed it one of the best German Chocolate Cakes they’d ever had, so I’m thinking the 3 hours in the kitchen was worth it. Since I was feeding a lot of people, I followed the advice of the many many epicurious reviewers and doubled both the cake and the filling. If you don’t want something quite so behemoth, I would make the regular amount of cake, but still 1.5X the filling. The filling is where it’s at.

Inside-out German Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Bridge Street Bakery via Gourmet. Serves a billion.

So, as I mentioned above, I doubled both the cake and the filling; these amounts are reflected below. I, like many others, had trouble getting my glaze to completely cover the sides, so I ended up spreading it a bit. Next time, I’ll only “ice” the top of the cake and then pour the glaze, letting it drip over the side so that you can still see the filling. The nommy nommy filling.

For cake layers

3 c sugar
3 c all-purpose flour
1 c plus 2 T unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1.5 t baking powder
1.5 t baking soda
1.5 t salt
1.5 c whole milk
12 T unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1.5 t vanilla
1/4 t almond extract
1.5 c boiling-hot water


14 oz sweetened flaked coconut
8 oz coarsely chopped pecans (2 cups)
2, 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk
2 T vanilla

For glaze

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
12 oz fine-quality semisweet chocolate
3 T light corn syrup

Start the dulce de leche

  • In a large, heavy pot, completely submerge the 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk in water
  • Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a medium simmer
  • Boil for 1.5 hours, keeping the cans completely submerged, adding more water when needed
  • For the love of GOD, do not let the water boil off
  • Remove the cans and let cool. You should have a gorgeous caramel when you’re done

Meanwhile, toast the coconut and nuts

  • Heat oven to 325°F
  • Spread the coconut in a single layer on one large pan and the nuts on a different pan
  • Toast the coconut and nuts for 12-15 min or until golden brown. Set aside
  • Turn oven up to 350°F for the cake layers

While the coconut and nuts toast, start on your cakes

  • Grease 3, 9″ round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment
  • In a large bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, eggs and egg yolks, and vanilla and almond extracts
  • Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined, then beat for 1 minute on high speed
  • On low speed, add the water (the batter will be very very thin; you will think something is wrong with it; it’s fine)
  • Divide the batter in the cake pans and bake for ~20 minutes in the 350° oven, or until tester comes out clean (if you did NOT double the cake batter, they’ll only need 14 minutes)
  • Cool the layers on racks for ~15 minutes, then remove the cakes from pans and cool completely on the racks

While the cakes bake, start the glaze

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan
  • Add the chocolate and corn syrup and stir until melted and combined
  • Remove 1.5 cups of glaze and refrigerate until semi-solid and spreadable

Finish the filling

  • In a large bowl, mix together the cooled dulce de leche, toasted coconut, toasted pecans, and vanilla

Put her all together!

  • Ok, now you should have: 3 cooled cake layers, coolish filling, some liquid glaze at room temperature and some more solid glaze from the fridge
  • Place a rack on a cookie sheet to catch drips
  • If you cakes have large “humps” (like mine did), shave of the humps with a bread knife so that the layers are flatter and stackable
  • Place one cake layer on the rack
  • Top the cake with 1/2 the filling and spread to the edges
  • Repeat with the next cake layer and the rest of the filling, then top with the third cake layer, shaved side down (bottom side up; this way you have a flat, even top)
  • Spread the chilled glaze evenly over the top and sides of the cake
  • Carefully pour the room-temp glaze over the top, allowing it to drip down and coat the sides. If the glaze is too hard (ie, too cool), warm it on low heat on the stove, stirring until it becomes pourable
  • Chill the cake for an hour and then transfer to a serving platter. Do not try to move it before it’s thoroughly chilled!
  • Gluttony incarnate

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