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Better-Late-Than-Never German Chocolate Birthday Cake

A few days ago, my fiancé, Adam, reminded me that he still was waiting for his birthday cake. Keep in mind, his birthday was a month ago. I had completely forgotten; we were in Los Angeles over his birthday, and even though he received the complementary “birthday tiramisu” at the restaurant where we dined, he was still waiting for his traditional birthday cake.

Being a stickler for this birthday tradition, I felt terrible, so I decided we’d have a “better-late-than-never” birthday celebration at our apartment. He is always asking me to make German Chocolate Cake, which I will admit, isn’t my favorite. But I figured since it was his birthday celebration, I would bake him one. I found this recipe on our site, and honestly, it was pretty tasty!  

The first step in making this beautiful cake is to make the rich, sweet frosting. Crack 3 eggs into a small saucepan and whisk them together.

Add the brown sugar, half & half, and ½ cup of butter. I cut my butter into chunks so it would melt in easier.


Cook over medium heat, stirring the mixture constantly. You don’t want to end up with scrambled egg frosting!


After about 10 minutes, the mixture starts to thicken up. You’ll know it’s ready once it starts to bubble.


Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the coconut, pecans and vanilla.


Set it aside and let it cool completely- at least an hour.


While the frosting is cooling, get started on the cake.

Break the chocolate bar into smaller pieces, and add it to a small saucepan with ½ cup of water.

Stir occasionally, until the chocolate is melted. Cool the chocolate mixture for 10 minutes.


Grease and flour two 9” round baking pans. Make sure the bottom is well-greased so your cake comes out easily. Trust me, I’ve learned this from experience when I went through all the effort of making a scratch cake only to have it stick in the pan. No fun!


Combine the dry cake ingredients in a bowl and set aside.


Next, combine a stick of butter and 1 cup of sugar, and beat until creamy.


Add  2 eggs and vanilla…


…and beat until well-mixed.


Add the cooled, melted chocolate and beat until mixed.

If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, now is the perfect time to make your own. Seriously, you can make your own! I always do this because I know if I buy a whole container of buttermilk, I’ll never use it all before it goes bad. All you need is vinegar and milk. Put a tablespoon of vinegar into a liquid measuring cup, and add enough milk to equal 1 cup. Let it stand for 5 minutes, and then you’ll have your very own homemade buttermilk or sour milk to use in the recipe.


Now, add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the chocolate batter.

Some flour mixture…


…and buttermilk…


…and keep doing this until you have used all of the flour mixture and buttermilk. The mixture should look smooth, silky and delicious.


Divide the mixture between the two prepared pans. You could always measure out the batter and divide it perfectly, but hey, I’m not perfect! I usually can eyeball it pretty well.


Smooth out the top to even out the batter.


Bake the cakes for about 35 minutes.

You’ll know the cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes in the pan. This will help make it easier to remove them without sticking. Once removed from the pan, place the cakes on a cooling rack and cool completely (for about an hour).


Now it’s time to assemble! Place one of the cakes on a pretty pedestal or plate, and frost the top with half of the cooled frosting. I leveled out the top of this cake by cutting some off since it was slightly higher on one side, but you don’t have to do this if you don’t mind your cake leaning a little.


Top with the second cake, and frost with the remainder of the frosting. You can frost just the top, or the top and sides- whatever makes you happy!

Now isn’t that a pretty cake? Time to serve to the birthday boy!


First bite…moment of truth!


I think the smile says it all- he loves it!


Make this cake for a birthday, special celebration, or just to indulge! What cake is your “go to” birthday cake? Maybe German Chocolate Cake will become one of your traditions, too. Make sure to come back and rate and review the recipe and let me know how it turned out!

Come back in a few days when Amanda will make a perfect sweet treat for Valentine's Day.

Mallory is a consultant for the Test Kitchens at Land O'Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz® Blog.


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• Comments •

Hi, Joyce. Thank you for your ideas! We do use quite a bit of buttermilk here in the Test Kitchens, but when I am at home and only feeding two people I will usually make it from scratch since I will have milk and vinegar on hand at all times. It sounds like you have a great time in the kitchen with your granddaughters, they are lucky to have you teach them cooking and baking skills!

Posted Mar 11 2011 by Mallory

Haha awesome!!! I'm trying this (:

Posted Feb 11 2011 by Erin

That Chocolate Cake looks so good. My chocolate layer cake has 10 to 12 layers & I cook my Frosting also Thanks Genie

Posted Feb 11 2011 by genie e.

Thank You, what a wonderful display of how to bake a recipe pics are excellent, Great job I will try this one.

Posted Feb 11 2011 by Kimberly S.

I'm so hungry right now I could eat the whole thing. Poor Adam! Forced to mow down a home made confection...LOL

Posted Feb 10 2011 by Uncle Bob

I don't know how your buttermilk can go bad as you state. If you are from the test kitchen at LOL, you are not using your products to the fullest. I use fresh buttermilk for many things. Pancakes, all muffins, cakes, etc. When recipes for muffins call for all this oil, I use buttermilk AND yogurt to take the place. IT IS SOOOOO GOOOD! And moist.
I enter many baking catagories at the county fair, as well as my granddaughters do (4, 8) and we all get blue ribbons and an occ. purple.

You can take box mix pancake mix and instead of the water toss in juice of any kind and also buttermilk and or yogurt. Many flavors--favorites are apple juice and orange juice with the buttermilk and stir in pancake mix till you have the thickness you like. I am not a measuring person, persey---
I get my granddaughters every weekend and we make a new recipe every time. The girls' favorite this winter are homemade ice cream, stir fry, muffins/quick breads, did pot stickers this last weekend. If at 4, 8 can do it, adults should bite the bullet and use their skills!

Posted Feb 10 2011 by Joyce

Yummo! Looks beautiful and delicious! Great story, too! Thanks, Mallory!

Posted Feb 10 2011 by Carol

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