The Best German Chocolate Cake Recipe with a Rum Twist and “To Die For Icing”

Just Chocolate Cake, All the Time

I tried this best German chocolate cake recipe one time as I had family visiting over for a weekend. I wanted to try this homemade German chocolate cake for a while now, but always hesitated since it looked very heavy and rich.  And was I right.  Just one slice ¾ of an inch thick (2 cm) filled me up completely.  So I guess I want to warn you before you bake this cake.   You either are a big eater, or you have plenty of guests coming over.   I gave my parents a quarter of the cake and froze another quarter. 

This recipe for a German chocolate cake makes two cakes that you cut in half, making it a four layer cake.  Due to the syrup, the cake is moist and it really does taste good.  I would always use syrup when baking a German chocolate cake, since the coconut-pecan filling isn’t very moist. 

In addition, the German chocolate cake icing is an extra step, but you get to cover all imperfections of the baked cake.  My chocolate cake didn’t come out as I wanted it.  The first one ended to have a “x” shape, the second was better.  I think it was because the buttermilk was not room temperature.  Anyway, I was able to get away with it since the chocolate cake icing hid everything and pictures came out great. 


Quick word on the German chocolate cake frosting:   It actually makes a great filling, so if you are looking for chocolate cake filling ideas, you can use the recipe for the frosting below.   After refrigerating it for one hour, the icing becomes thick enough to be used as a filling.  I will definitely try it out on a different cake. 


Best German Chocolate Cake Ever

What makes this best German chocolate cake recipe best?  I think it is the syrup and the chocolate cake icing.  The syrup makes the cake really moist and the not too sweet frosting nicely complements the cake.  If you would like to cut down on the total sugar that goes into this homemade German chocolate cake, then instead of making the syrup, make a very strong black tea and add rum to it.  Use that to moisten the cake.  


 Fun Fact:

Did you know that a German chocolate cake is not really German?  The name comes from the person that invented the chocolate used in the original cake.  His name was Sam German, and the original recipe name was German’s chocolate cake. 

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Best German Chocolate Cake Recipe

Important:  When measuring use dip and sweep method

Ingredients for the cake:

  1. 2 ¼ cups (280g) of cake flour or 2 cups minus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour (245g)and 1 teaspoon plus ¼ cup (35g)of corn starch
  2. 1 ¼ cup (250g) + ¼ cup (50g)sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  4. ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  5. ½ teaspoon of salt
  6. 1 cup of butter (226g)
  7. 4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (113g)
  8. 6 tablespoons of lukewarm water or coffee
  9. 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  10. 1 cup of buttermilk (245g), at room temperature
  11. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Ingredients for the chocolate icing:

  1. 8 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate (at least 50% cocoa)
  2. 1 cup (242g) heavy or whipping cream (fat content 36-40%)
  3. 2 tablespoons of corn syrup.  If you don’t have corn syrup, use 1 tablespoon of Agave syrup.
  4. 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter (43 g)

Ingredients for the filling:

  1. 3 egg yolks
  2. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  3. 1 cup (200g) sugar
  4. 1 cup (242g) of evaporated milk
  5. 6 tablespoons (86g)of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  6. 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  7. 1 cup (240ml – 110g) finely chopped and toasted pecans
  8. 1 1/3 cup (320ml – 133g) toasted coconut, unsweetened

Ingredients for the rum syrup:

  1. ½ cup (100g) of sugar
  2. 2/3 cup of water (160ml)
  3. 4 teaspoons (20 ml) of dark rum


  1. Two 9” (24cm) cake pans
  2. Cake icing spatula
  3. Long serrated knife or a cake cutter
  4. Pastry bag and tips


1.     Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

How to make a German chocolate cake
How to make a German chocolate cake

2.       Grease the bottom of your pans, line them with rounds of parchment paper, grease the paper and the sides, and flour the pan. 

3.       In a double boiler melt the chocolate with the 6 tablespoons of water over hot water, stir frequently.   You can melt the chocolate in a microwave set at 800W for 20 seconds.  Cool off to room temperature.

How to make a German chocolate cake
How to make a German chocolate cake

4.       Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

5.       Beat the butter and 1 ¼ cup of sugar until fluffy and light, about 5 minutes. 

How to make a German chocolate cake
How to make a German chocolate cake

6.       Add the chocolate, mix well and scrape the sides.  Afterward, add the egg yolks and mix. Again, scrape the sides of your mixing bowl to ensure even incorporation. 

7.       On low speed add, half the flour mixture, mix until moistened, add half of the buttermilk and vanilla, mix until incorporated, and add the rest of the flour.   Mix until combined, scrape the sides and mix again for a short time on medium low. 

How to make a German chocolate cake
How to make a German chocolate cake

8.       Beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks.  Add the ¼ of a cup of sugar and beat until they form stiff peaks. 

9.       Add half of the whites to the cake batter and mix on low for a minute.  Add the rest of the whites and mix with a spatula until all the whites are incorporated. 

How to make a chocolate cake
How to make a German chocolate cake

10.       Divide the batter into the two cake forms and bake for 45 minutes.  If your oven is not big enough to hold two cakes on the same level, then place one cake form into the fridge.  Once the first one has baked, you can bake the other one.  You have to use two forms, since moving the batter after it has been sitting for a while will result in it losing its leavening power. 

While the cakes are baking prepare the cake filling, syrup, and chocolate frosting:

  • Make the filling:

1.       If you don’t have toasted pecans and coconut, simply place them in a clean frying pan set over high heat.  Toast until the coconut will turn slightly yellow and the pecans will emit a slight aroma. 

How to make a German chocolate cake
How to make a German chocolate cake
How to make custard
How to make a German chocolate cake

2.       Combine the butter, salt, pecans, and coconut in a large bowl and set aside.

3.       Heat the evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks and bring it to boil.  Cook on low heat stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.  The custard is ready when the bubbles will be slowly bursting.  Take it off the heat and pour over the nuts, mix with a spoon until the butter is melted.  Cool to room temperature.   Once cooled, refrigerate for 1 hour. 

  • Make the syrup:
Cake syrup

1.       Heat the water and sugar stirring occasionally until all crystals have dissolved.  Add the rum to the hot syrup and cool down to room temperature.

  • Make the chocolate icing:
How to make chocolate frosting
How to make a German chocolate  icing

1.       Place the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a mixing bowl.  I like to use my stainless steel bowl, as it accepts heat better and things cool off faster in it.  Bring the cream to boil and pour over the chocolate.  Stir until all the ingredients have dissolved and the icing is smooth.  Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for 1 hour. 

  • Assemble the cake:
How to make a German chocolate cake
How to make a German chocolate cake

1.       Cut the baked cakes horizontally in halves. 

2.       Place one half on your cake plate and spoon the syrup on it (around 8-10 tablespoons).  Spread 3/4 cup of the filling (will be a thin layer) over the cake layer and set the second layer on top.  Repeat the process with all cake layers. 

How to make a German chocolate cake
How to make a German chocolate cake

3.       Ice the sides and pipe a decorative ring around the filling on the top cake layer. 

best german chocolate cake recipe

Tip:  If your cakes don’t come out great, use the worst ones first, saving the best one for the top layer.  Once you ice the cake, all the imperfections will be gone.   

Try this Best German Chocolate Cake Recipe today!

Here, I will have to confess something.  This chocolate cake really tastes great, the syrup makes it moist, and it really is one of the best German chocolate cake recipes out there.  My nephews ate it like there is no tomorrow.  My husband and I after three days have noticed that we have slight digestive problems.  It could have been a coincident, but we had had “wind” problems.   I promised that I will be honest with you, so there you go. 

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