Babz Bites: German chocolate cake

Parties are never quite the same without dessert. Whether big or small, hand-held, plated or bite-sized, something about a group gathering leaves most of us craving a sweet treat.

Every party leaves a craving for certain flavors. There’s nothing quite like Easter sweets. Chocolate eggs, malt balls, jelly beans, chocolate dipped peanut butter, chocolate covered cream. The list is lengthened increasingly. The dominant ingredient remains chocolate.

On special occasions like this, my family would gather around the dining room table for lunch. We were setting up a buffet and a dessert table. If we had been lucky, my favorite uncle would have been up all morning baking German chocolate cake. It wasn’t always the prettiest, but it sure was good. One year I remember it looked more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa than a three-layer cake. But it made it easier for us to walk past the cake and swipe some frosting without anyone noticing, or so we thought.

The Pecan Coconut Frosting on the German Chocolate Cake is a dessert all on its own. Honestly, this might be my favorite part of the desert. This is one of the first recipes my grandmother taught me to make. I can still eat a bowl on my own. It’s so rich and good.

Did you know that German chocolate cake is not German? If spelled correctly, it’s actually the “German” chocolate cake, as in, named after a guy (Samuel) with the German last name. He developed baking chocolate in 1852 which is now called Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate. In 1957, 105 years later, The Dallas Morning News published a recipe for German chocolate cake created by Mrs. George Clay, a housewife, which became very popular. General Foods, which at the time owned the Baker’s brand, took notice and distributed the cake recipe to other newspapers nationwide. At some point the possessive (German) was dropped, leading to all sorts of confusion.

Today I included my recipe for German Chocolate Cake and Coconut Pecan Frosting. The key ingredient in this production, time. Give yourself plenty of time for each part of the recipe to cool. It will make everything much easier. You can even make the frosting the day before.

If cake is a little intimidating, try making cupcakes. Or heck, just make the frosting. You won’t be mad about it.

Good luck and enjoy!

Coconut Pecan Frosting

Makes about 5 cups. Can be made a day ahead.

2 cups chopped pecans, toasted and cooled

1 (12 oz) evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cups of butter

6 egg yolks lightly beaten

2 – 2 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Using a heavy saucepan (3 quarts minimum) over high heat, stir in evaporated milk, sugar, butter and egg yolks. Stir constantly as it will burn. This will take about 5 minutes or until the butter has melted and the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to cook and stir for another 10 minutes or more, until the mixture has turned a light caramel color, is bubbling and has reached a pudding-like thickness.

Remove the pan from the fire. Now stir in the coconut, vanilla and pecans. Transfer the mixture to a bowl at room temperature. Let stand 45 minutes or until cool, stirring occasionally, or until cool. It will be a mess to spread on a cake if you don’t let it cool.

german chocolate cake

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Lightly grease 3 9-inch round cake pans; line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly grease the paper. Other sizes of cake pans can be used. Six inches is also a wonderful size, as well as very comfortable if you’ve never made such a decadent cake before.

Parchment

2 packages sweet chocolate baking bars (German chocolate if possible), 4 oz each

2 cups flour, all purpose

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups of sugar

4 eggs, whites and yolks separated (Don’t discard anything but the shells.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk (Add 1 tablespoon vinegar to the milk if you don’t have buttermilk on hand.)

Coconut-Pecan Frosting (See recipe above. Can be made the day before making the cake.

Melt all the chocolate bars. If you have a microwave, use ½ cup of water with chocolate. Set to high for 1 minute. Stir and melt for 30 seconds more. The chocolate should be melted and smooth. If you don’t have a microwave, do the above but on a stovetop. Create a double grill with two small pans or pots placed on top of each other. Put ½ cup of water in the bottom pan, more if needed, but make sure there won’t be any extra water in the top pan. Melt until smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. To mix together.

In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar. Blend with a stand mixer or hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. It will probably take about 3 minutes. One at a time, add the egg yolks. Do not add more until each is mixed.

Using the mixer on low speed, add the chocolate and vanilla. Beat until blended.

Add a little of the flour mixture, a little buttermilk and continue to swirl the mixture over low heat between each, until each has been added. Try to finish the rotation with the flour mixture.

In separate bowl, beat egg whites on high speed or until stiff peaks form. Next, fold the egg whites into the cake batter. Do this very gently. Don’t mix, just fold.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick or fork inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Once out of the oven, run a knife around the outer edge of each cake to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Cool pans on a cake rack for 15 minutes.

Remove pans from racks, discard parchment paper from cake and return to rack.

Leave to cool for at least an hour.

Decide which cake will be on each layer when assembled. Spread coconut pecan frosting between each layer. Pile. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Garnish with pecan halves. Can be consumed immediately or later in the day for a better taste. But leftovers are often the best crumbles and bites.

The recipe and photo used in today’s article are from Chef Babz’s kitchen ([email protected]).

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