Saturday, March 20, 2010

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

I am not big on fancy layered cakes.  I mean I like them, but making them intimidates me.  Sheet cakes are more my style-all of the layered cake goodness without the layered cake fuss.  I do need to start practicing making layered cakes soon because I promised my 7 year old that I would make his birthday cake this year (May-only a month and a half away!).  Unfortunately he was very specific in his wants.  He wants a layered chocolate cake with a fresh strawberry and cream filling and chocolate dipped strawberries on top.  Oooooh. Kaaaaaay.  But I digress.  This post is not about my layered cake anxiety.  It is about a decadent German chocolate cake with the most amazing coconut pecan frosting.  Amazing.  Seriously. 

German Chocolate Sheet Cake
Recipe from Cooks Illustrated magazine

When you frost the cake, the frosting should be cool or cold.  To be time efficient, first make the frosting, then use the refrigeration time to prepare, bake, and cool the cake.  The toasted pecans are stirred into the frosting just before the cake is frosted to keep them from becoming soft and soggy.

4 egg yolks
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans, toasted on baking sheet in 350 oven until fragrant and browned

*Whisk yolks in medium saucepan: gradually whisk in evaporated milk.  Add sugars, butter, and salt and cook over meduim-high heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is boiling, frothy, and slightly thickened, about 6 minutes.
*transfer mixture to bowl, whisk in vanilla, then stir in coconut.  Cool until just warm, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cool or cold, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. (Pecans are stirred in just before the cake assembly)


4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa, sifted
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting pan
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature

*Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. 
*combine chocolate and cocoa in small bowl;pour boiling water over and let stand to melt chocolate.  Whisk until smooth; set aside until cooled to room temperature.
*Meanwhile, spray 13 by 9 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Line bottom of pan with parchment or waxed paper and spray. Dust pan with flour, and knock out excess.  Sift flour and baking soda into medium bowl or onto sheet of parchment or waxed paper.
*In bowl of standing mixer, beat butter and sugars and salt at medium-low speed until sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds.  Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula halfway through.
*With mixer running at medium speed, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down bowl halfway through.  Mix in the cooled chocolate and cocoa mixture.  Beat in vanilla; increase speed to medium-highand beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds.
*With mixer running at low speed, add dry ingredients, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, and beating in each addition until barely combined.  After final flour additon, beat on low until just combined, then stir batter by hand with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl to ensure that batter in homogenous.
*Pour into prepared pan and level with rubber spatula.
*Bake cake until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. 
*Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard paper,  Cool cake to room temperature before frosting, about 2 hours. 
*To frost the cake, stir toasted pecans into chilled frosting.  Invert cake onto serving platter.  Using spoon, place dollops of frosting evenly spaced over cake.  Using icing spatula, spread frosting evenly over surface of cake.  Cut into squares and serve. 
*Cover leftovers and refrigerate for up to 3 days.  If refrigerated longer that 2 hours, let cake stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Here are the egg yolks, sugars, salt and evaporated milk boiled, frothy
Here is the chocolate and the cocoa powder with the boiling water poured over the top

This is the cake right out of the oven. The holes on top are where I tested for doneness with a toothpick.  You can see I tested several times...because I don't trust my oven.
This is the cake inverted onto the baking rack.  I skipped the parchment paper and dusting the pan with flour.  I just used Pam cooking spray and it worked for me.  Do whatever you are comfortable with.
Right after I pulled the cake out of the oven and while the oven was still warm, I toasted the chopped pecans.  Kill two birds with one stone, right?
Here, right before frosting the cake, I mixed the nuts into the frosting...did I mention how amazing this frosting is?
Seriously, it tastes like the best vanilla custard pudding with coconuts and pecans.  So good!
Frosting the cake on my platter (the platter was slightly too small for the cake)
The finished cake
Ta da!!!  Even my coconut hater loved this:)


  1. I come home for a long, mind numbing day to this at the top of the Tastespotting page. YUM!
    Great pic, great recipe, completely compelling and cravable! Thanks for sharing~

  2. corner piece for me, please--the more of that glorious frosting, the better!

  3. Thank you so much!! What a great compliment, you totally made my day:)

  4. You can make your sheet cake and have your son's layered cake in a flash. We always bake a sheet cake, cut it in have and stack the halves with icing between and toothpicks to anchor the layers together. If he insists on a round cake, trim off the corners. I agree, sheet cakes are wonderful, and yours looks terrific. good luck.

  5. I can eat a bowl of that frosting!! yum!

  6. Try this one instead next time:

    Sprinkle 1 cup coconut and 1 cup melted butter in greased 9x13-inch pan. Add 1 cup crushed walnuts or pecans. Mix 1 box German chocolate cake mix as directed on package. Pour on top of coconut and nuts.
    Melt together 1 large package cream cheese, 1 stick butter, 1 box (3 3/4 cups)confectioners sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Put this on top of cake mix and bake for 45-50 min. at 350-degrees.

  7. Ah...when you do add the chocolate/cocoa mixture? Oops! Otherwise, I loved the recipe and the results.

  8. **Whoops! Sorry, you add the cooled chocolate right before the vanilla:)

  9. I couldn't find a 1 oz can of evaporated milk for the frosting. that seems awfully small. Is that really the amount needed or is it more?

  10. Sara,
    Sorry, it is a 12 oz can:) Thanks for catching that.


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