German Chocolate Cake

It’s hard to believe that the Fancy Pants Kitchen turned three this month and there is no better way to celebrate than with a delicious German Chocolate Cake.

After publishing over 550 recipes in the last few years, I’ve come to realize that you all want simple, quick concoctions that taste amazing!  I know that every once in a while you like a challenge, and for many of you, cake making is a challenge.  that’s why, this year, I decided to simplify things by making a “naked” cake.

My daughter, Haley, came to me recently asking if I would show her how to bake a German Chocolate Cake.  I honestly had never baked one before so I studied up and discovered that it’s simply a chocolate cake layered with a pecan coconut filling and covered in a rich chocolate buttercream.  Haley can bake (she makes amazing bread) but like a lot of people, frosting a cake is a little challenging.  I decided that a “naked” cake would be the easiest way to decorate this cake.  All that means is leaving the sides exposed and spreading the frosting only on the top.  You can all do that, right?

I also decided that the filling would be better with toasted pecans instead of raw.  Pecans are always better toasted, in my opinion!

This cake begins with the chocolate cake layers.  Combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso powder in a large bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients together:  oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla.  While you can use a stand or handheld mixer, it’s just as easy (and simpler on the clean up) to use a whisk to combine all of these ingredients.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, add the hot water or coffee (I highly recommend using hot coffee) and whisk it until completely combined.

Divide the batter between three cake pans and bake for about 25 minutes.  Set the cake layers aside to cool.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the coconut pecan filling by combining butter, brown sugar, egg yolks and evaporated milk in a saucepan and cooking over medium heat.  Whisk until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.  Stir in toasted pecans, coconut and vanilla.  set this aside to cool.

To assemble this beauty, place a cake layer on your serving platter.  Top it with 1/2 of the filling.  Add another layer and top it with the remaining filling.  Add the third layer and frost that with the Chocolate Buttercream.  If you like, you can sprinkle extra toasted pecans and shredded coconut on the top.  You can also add some candles, if it’s your birthday!  Woohoo!

Share Your Thoughts...

Lastly, if you make German Chocolate Cake, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is one of my favorite things to do!

German Chocolate Cake

Makes: 10-12 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Bake Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour & 20 minutes, plus chill time



  • 1 & 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 cup (62g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 & 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (180g) full fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water or coffee*

Coconut Pecan Filling:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 can (8 ounces; 240ml) evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup (125g) chopped pecans


optional for garnish: extra toasted pecans and sweetened shredded coconut


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 9×2 inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans.

Make the Cake:

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or you can use a whisk) mix the oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the hot water or coffee, and whisk or beat it all until the batter is completely combined.

Divide batter evenly between 3 pans. Bake for 21-25 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely in the pan.

As the cakes cool, prepare the coconut pecan filling so it can cool and be ready at the same time. Combine butter, brown sugar, egg yolks, and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk occasionally as the mixture comes to a low boil. Once boiling, whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, toasted pecans, and coconut. Allow to cool completely before layering in cake. It will thicken even more as it cools.

While cake and filling is cooling, make the Chocolate Buttercream.

Assemble and frost:

First, level the cakes if needed: using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with 1/2 of the coconut pecan filling (half is about 1 and 1/4 cups). Top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with remaining coconut pecan filling. Top with the third cake layer. Spread the chocolate buttercream into a thick layer on top. Garnish with extra toasted pecans and coconut, if desired. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing or else the cake may gently fall apart as you cut.

Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction


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