I have tried, honestly. I have managed not to give in to temptation on several occasions, but when comes to cake, I just can’t say no. Especially when it happens to be chocolate cake. German chocolate cake is not something I have seen in Mauritian patisseries; you will have to make it from scratch if you want to taste one. Choose a special day like a birthday or an anniversary as it does require some extra effort and you will end up with a fairly large cake that has to be shared.

The recipe, from one of my favourites, David Lebovitz, makes a lovely layered cake sandwiched with the traditional coconut-pecan nut filling. I chose to top my cake with dark chocolate ganache and scattered the remaining golden coconut flakes and toasted pecan bits over it. The funny story behind the German Chocolate Cake is that, contrary to popular belief, it was not ‘made in Germany’.

The famous chocolatey delight got its name from its American creator, Samuel German, who developed the dark baking chocolate used in the cake batter in the year 1852. The cake itself has its origins in the year 1920 and gained popularity after the recipe got published in the food column of a newspaper. I’m gonna dedicate this post to my friend, Floe, who’s come all the way from Germany for her elective at ABH.



For the Chocolate Cake

2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons water

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ¼ cup + ¼ cup sugar

4 large eggs, separated

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

3 ounces butter, cut into small pieces

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped

1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted

For the Sugar Syrup

1 cup water

¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons dark rum, optional

For the Chocolate Icing

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 ½ ounces unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream


  • Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Melt both chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of water until smooth. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and 1 ¼ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  • Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks, one at a time. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then the buttermilk and vanilla, then the rest of the dry ingredients.
  • In a separate metal or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft, droopy peaks. Beat in the ¼ cup of sugar until stiff.

  • Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites.
  • Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes.
  • Cool cake layers completely. While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup, and icing.

For the Filling

  • Mix cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a saucepan. Put the butter, salt, coconut and pecan pieces in a large bowl.
  • Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir).
  • Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted.

To Make the Syrup

  • In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.

To Make the Chocolate Icing

  • Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ ounces of butter.
  • Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate.
  • Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Let sit until room temperature.

To Assemble the Cake

  • Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrated bread knife.
  • Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush well with syrup. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer.

  • Make sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top. Brush with syrup and spread coconut filling on top.
  • Ice the sides with the chocolate and pipe a decorative border around the top, encircling the coconut topping. Serves 16.

Let’s Celebrate!