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David Lebovitz’s German’s Chocolate Cake

May 24, 2008

German\'s Chocolate Cake corner shot

I made this cake for my hubby’s work.  They had two people having a birthday and his boss asked me if I would make something.  It is, I must say a *very* healthy cake.  I mean, how can you go wrong? Rich chocolately cake… a custard based filling/icing… and a dark chocolate icing… very low fat.  yup.  not a heart attack on a platter or anything.

And the real bummer is that I didn’t even get to try it.  I’ve never made this recipe before and will all that wonderful butter and cream and eggs and coconut and pecans… sigh.  Ah well, hubby said it was very rich, but he’s not a fan of sweets (and yet he married a baker… foolish man).  I was worried that the super dark icing would overpower the rest of the cake but hubby thinks it helped to counter act some of the fillings sweetness.

Guess I’ll have to make it again so I can judge for myself!

German’s Chocolate Cake

One big, tall 9-inch cake; about 16 servings

For the cake:
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons water
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at 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 syrup:
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum

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

1. Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Melt both chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave. Stir until smooth, then set aside until room temperature.
3. 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.
4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
5. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, then the rest of the dry ingredients.
6. 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.
7. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there’s no trace of egg white visible.
8. Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake layers completely.

While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup, and icing.

To make the filling:
1. Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the 3 ounces butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.
2. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170°.)
3. Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken.)

To make the syrup:
1. 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 icing:
1. Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ ounces of butter.
2. 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, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top.

Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.

Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

(It may seem like a lot of chocolate icing, but use it all. Trust me. You won’t be sorry.)

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3 comments

  1. I’ve made this recipe twice now and just can’t seem to get the filling to set. Cooked to 170 the first time, ended up with a runny mess, even after a day in the fridge. I’ve now just tried it for the second time, carefully cooked to 185 and while it seems to be thicker, it’s still runny at room temp.


  2. Alison, I have never used a thermometer when I make this (those are David’s instructions). I just look at the color. When it starts to look brown-ish and caramel colored, that’s when I take it off. I haven’t made this cake in a while, but next time I do, I’ll get out my thermometer and see what temp mine gets to. I’ve never had any setting issues, so you might just want to try eyeballing it rather than worrying about the thermometer. Let me know if you can get it to work!


  3. I’ve made the filling three times now, and it’s definitely a favorite. I do pay attention to the thickness of the custard before pouring it over the nuts/coconut mixture, though. If it doesn’t coat the back of the spoon and suddenly thicken up quite a bit, I just keep stirring and cooking. I got to almost 200F today, and now that it’s cool, it’s just the right thickness. YUM!!



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