With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

German Chocolate Cake

It's hard to believe, but there are many desserts out there deemed "classics" that I've yet to try.

Growing up in a household where baking wasn't much of a priority and always choosing a chocolate and vanilla marbled bakery cake for birthdays didn't leave much time for the countless other cake combinations out there.

And even now, with so many options on my "to bake" list, all too often layer cakes fade to the background for something less fussy instead.

Therefore over the holidays, when I had the chance to make something for a large crowd, I jumped at the chance to dive in.

And when German Chocolate Cake popped up in the options, there was no turning back.

Yes this cake takes a little effort, but it's definitely manageable for even a baker who is convinced layer cakes are out of their reach.

Tender chocolate cake is soaked with a rum syrup and filled with a sticky coconut pecan filling.  It's then glazed with a deep chocolate ganache and is definitely a celebratory worthy treat.

Even if it's just celebrating the every day.

And let's face it, days filled with cakes such as this are bound to be awesome.

German Chocolate Cake
Servings: 10-12 pieces

** Try breaking this recipe up into multiple days for even more ease. Bake the cakes on day one, let cool completely and wrap in plastic wrap at room temperature.  Make filling, frosting and finish cake on the second.


For the Cake:
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 6 Tbsp water
- 4 eggs (whites and yolks separated)
- 16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For Rum Syrup: 
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp dark rum

For Filling:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 6 Tbsp butter (cubed)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup pecans (toasted and finely chopped)
- 1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted (if you can't find unsweetened, sweetened should suffice)

For Icing:
- 8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (chopped)
- 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream


Make Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans.  Set aside.  Using a double boiler (or microwave in small spurts) melt bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate with water, stirring until smooth.  Let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high until droopy peaks are formed.  slowly add 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.  Transfer egg whites to another bowl.  In the electric mixer bowl then with the paddle attachment combine butter with 1 1/4 cups of the sugar.  Beat on medium-high until light and fluffily (4-5 minutes).  Beat in melted chocolate.  Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture on low speed until combined.  Mix in buttermilk and vanilla extract until combined.  Mix in remaining dry ingredients until just incorporated.  Using a rubber spatula gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter.  Fold in remaining egg whites until just incorporated.

Divide batter between cake pans and bake in preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and transfer directly to wire rack to cool completely.

Make Rum Syrup:
While the cakes are cooling (or the next day) make syrup.  Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.  Off the heat, stir in the rum.

Make Filling:
Toast pecans in a 350 degress F oven for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until fragrant.  Chop.  Combine cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan.  Put butter, pecans, and coconut in a mixing bowl, set aside.  Heat cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon (170-175 degrees F if you have a candy thermometer).  Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan coconut mixture and stir until butter is melted.  Cool completely to room temperature.  It will thicken as it cools.

Make Icing:
Place chopped chocolate in a bowl with corn syrup and butter.  Heat cream until it just begins to boil and pour over chocolate.  Let stand for 1 minute and then stir until smooth.  Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator until firm enough for spreading.  (Take a look at my first and last picture.  It will be messy but stay when spread.)

Assemble Cake:
Cut two cake layers horizontally in the middle to yield four layers total.  Set first layer on serving tray or cake stand, cut side up.  Brush with rum syrup.  Spread 3/4 cup filling over the cake and spread to edges.  Set another cake layer on top of filling, repeat rum and filling step.  Continue with all layers, finishing with filling exposed on top of cake.  Ice the sides and edges on top with the chocolate icing.  I found it easiest to start on top and work my way down, but there is no right or wrong way.  Keep cake refrigerated.  Take out at room temperature at least 15 minutes before serving.  Enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: Annie's Eats and David Lebovitz

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