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Ellen’s German Chocolate Cake

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This German Chocolate Cake has all of the coconut and chocolate goodness you’d expect. It is a show stopper perfect for a party!

slice of layered german chocolate cake with golden gooey coconut frosting.

Layers of light chocolate cake wrapped in a gooey golden coconut frosting make for a perfect German chocolate cake.  It is a perfect old fashioned made from scratch dessert. 

Enjoy it with a cup of coffee or a giant cup of milk.  Either way, it is sure to be a favorite recipe!

In case you didn’t know, this little corner of the internet all started with an email. It was winter and I needed something to entertain myself.

So I asked family members to send me recipes to make. I thought it would be good to get my hands on the recipes I loved growing up and perhaps get a few new modern recipes to try too.

I happen to come from a food loving family and my husband has some great cooks in his as well.  I figured worse case scenario I’d have some fun recipes to try.

In a better case scenario, maybe I’d figure out a way to turn it into an updated family cookbook for Christmas.

I started the blog in a whim one night figuring it would be a fun way to quickly share the results with the people who sent recipes.  I thought it might be a fun resource for my cousins as well after I figured out what it might cost to print and bind all those books in the fashion I had envisioned. 😉

whole german chocolate cake with coconut frosting and whole pecan decorations.

Since those early days when I had no idea what I was doing a few things have changed. Now I know just enough about blogging to be dangerous and those few dozen recipes our family originally submitted only went so far.

I really need to go back and rework a bunch of those posts. It’ll be fun to revisit how this all got started.

All of that to say that while I have fun creating new recipes and tinkering with ideas in the kitchen, I really love a recipe with roots. If a recipe went from grandma’s recipe box to the next generation and then to the one after that, it has to be good.

Take my great-great-grandma’s dutch apple cake for example. At least 6 generations have enjoyed it and who knows how many more. Plus it has spawned a peach breakfast cake as well!

looking down on top of cake coated with coconut frosting and pecan halves.

That brings us to a chat we were having on Facebook about what we request for our birthday meal. My friend Ellen from Family Around the Table said she would request her mom’s German chocolate cake.

MiMi suggested Pops would probably request the same thing. The next thing you know the recipe was in my inbox!

I couldn’t wait to make a recipe from her family’s recipe box! That is what it is all about after all. 

So I tucked it away and waited for the big day.

I had made a similar cake before, but my great-grandma made German chocolate cake with broiled coconut topping. So I was excited to try making a frosting more like what I had seen on the bakery cakes

Let me tell you, I would be happy to bakes from Ellen’s mom’s recipe box any time! (Luckily we can as a good number of her tried and true recipes now live at Family Around the Table!)

slice of three layer german chocolate cake with coconut frosting on dessert plate.

The cake does require a few dirty bowls, but it is not hard to make.  It is the perfect balance of sweet and just enough chocolate. It is luscious and springy.

The frosting is fun to make as well. I skipped the nuts because my husband said he has always wanted to try a German chocolate cake but the nuts have always prohibited it. So I stirred in extra coconut instead and garnished with easy to remove whole pecans.

The cake was a hit with all those who tried it. So now I’m curious, what do you request for your birthday meal?

slice of layered german chocolate cake with golden gooey coconut frosting.

Ellen’s German Chocolate Cake

Servings: 16 Servings
Author: Carlee
This German Chocolate Cake has all of the coconut and chocolate goodness you’d expect. It is a show stopper perfect for a party!
4.75 from 8 ratings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


German Chocolate Cake

  • 4 ounces Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Coconut Frosting

  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cups butter
  • 4 egg yolks slightly beaten
  • teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 7 ounces shredded coconut about 2⅔ cups
  • cups chopped pecans I used additional coconut and garnished with whole pecans
Makes: 9inch round



  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom of three 9” round cake pans with parchment paper, grease and set aside.
  • Melt chocolate and water over low heat, stirring constantly until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly.
    4 ounces Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, ½ cup water
  • Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
    2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
    1 cup butter, 2 cups granulated sugar
  • Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each yolk is fully incorporated. Stir in chocolate mixture and vanilla.
    4 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition until smooth.
    1 cup buttermilk
  • Beat egg whites in another large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten the batter in, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites until incorporated.
  • Pour into prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched in center. Immediately run a knife between cakes and sides of pan, but do not remove. Cool 15 minutes and then remove from pans.
  • Remove parchment paper and cool completely on wire racks


  • Mix evaporated milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks and vanilla in large saucepan. Stir while cooking over medium heat about 12 minutes until thickened and golden brown.
    12 ounces evaporated milk, 1½ cups granulated sugar, ¾ cups butter, 4 egg yolks, 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Stir in coconut and pecans. Cool to room temperature and of spreading consistency.
    7 ounces shredded coconut, 1½ cups chopped pecans
  • Spread coconut-pecan frosting between layers and on top of cake.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 382kcalCarbohydrates: 63gProtein: 6gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 175mgFiber: 2gSugar: 49g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


Tuesday 12th of February 2019

Thanks for sharing the recipe with me!


Sunday 10th of December 2017

Hi Carlee, I love hearing why people start their blogs, I bet you have enouhg recipes for several books now. German chocolate cake is not a cake I'm familiar with, but one I know I would enjoy.



Thursday 14th of December 2017

You would think German chocolate cake has German roots, but it turns out that it is really named after a chocolatier whose last name was German. So it is a kind of chocolate (like milk, semi-sweet etc.) not an ethnic reference. But the cake is definitely a popular in the states.


Wednesday 6th of December 2017

I haven't had one of these in a long time. Thanks for the recipe! Yum! Thank you for sharing on Merry Monday! Hope to see ya next week! Kim


Tuesday 5th of December 2017

I enjoyed reading how your blog was born. Isn't it amazing how it starts so simple and expands. This German Chocolate Cake looks fabulous. It seems like we had about 5 different cakes that we rotated when I was growing up and German Chocolate was one of them. Thank you for sharing.


Thursday 7th of December 2017

It really is funny how something so intentional becomes something so integral in your daily life! Now I'm wondering what the other cakes in the rotation were! Thanks, Amy!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies

Sunday 3rd of December 2017

I have a friend who always requests German Chocolate, it's her absolute favorite. I've tried a few different recipes, but I will try this one next time!


Monday 4th of December 2017

This is the second recipe I've tried. The frosting concepts were quite different between the two, but both delicious!