German Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache

I noticed when I began melting some butter for this cake that I had two different boxes of German chocolate in my possession. Oh it was the same kind of chocolate — the kind I needed for my cake — it was just that on the back of one was a recipe for German chocolate cake and on the back of the other was a recipe for German chocolate cupcakes. Admittedly, one of those boxes of chocolate (the one with the cake recipe on back) was a few months older than the one I bought at the store earlier this week, but I was perplexed nonetheless when I realized that the recipes on the back of each box were totally different! What’s a girl to do?

So I studied both recipes and made a split decision to follow the cupcake recipe but turn it into a layer cake instead. I had already started the recipe by melting the chocolate. And I remembered having used my other box of Chocolate back in March to make a German chocolate cake (that I did not blog) that got rave reviews with coworkers but … there was something about it I didn’t like. OK I’ll just be frank about it. The damn cake shrank! It’s what happens when you make a cake that uses egg whites folded into the batter. I’m not sure why it does this but it happens with tres leches cake too. And it annoys me. So I decided to use the whole egg recipe (cupcake recipe) so my 8-inch cake didn’t shrink to six inches as it cooled.

So there I was ready to set about on my German chocolate cake. I glanced at the frosting recipes on the back of both packages and smugly smiled to myself when I saw that at least those recipes matched. Then my smile turned into a grimace when I saw the recipe called for 1 12-ounce can of evaporate milk. Since I had two boxes of chocolate to double the cake recipe I was going to need to double the frosting recipe as well. As an aside, I think you can never go wrong by doubling the frosting recipe. I find that I like to frost my cakes with a relatively thick layer of frosting. I almost always run out of frosting way too early when I do not double the frosting recipe. At any rate, I looked in my newly organized cupboards and confirmed that I only had 1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk (plus one 5-ounce can of evaporated milk but obviously 12 + 5 does not = 24…). Grr.

So I set out to find a German chocolate cake recipe that used the traditional coconut frosting along with a chocolate frosting. Who doesn’t like a good chocolate frosting anyway? I figured I was increasing my cake’s stock by adding more chocolate. I set my mind on a nice ganache frosting and found a good-looking recipe quickly at Brown Eyed Baker’s website. But then I realized I do not have heavy cream in my refrigerator and I was trying to use only ingredients found in my refrigerator for this cake. (I decided this Thursday night after spending $135 at the grocery store. Really? Why does one person need to spend that much in one outing? Because of that bill I made a mental note to curb my food spending for the rest of the month.)

So I googled “how to make chocolate ganache without heavy cream” and lo and behold, I found information on making ganache with butter and milk instead of heavy cream. Logically I could not understand how melting butter into milk could substitute for heavy cream because most certainly the texture of melted butter + milk does not = the texture of heavy cream. Plus, Brown Eyed Baker’s ganache recipe used butter + heavy cream (+ chocolate + corn syrup). Ultimately when I went to the grocery store for chicken so I could make chicken jerky for my dogs, I ended up getting a pint of heavy cream since it wasn’t grotesquely overpriced.


 cake ingredients.

  • 2 packages (8 oz.) BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate
  • 1 ½ c. butter or margarine (I used 1 c. margarine + 1/2 c. butter)
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 c. buttermilk

cake directions.

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Prepare three eight-inch cake pans the way you would normally prepare when baking a cake. For me, I grease with shortening. Then I put a parchment paper round in the bottom and grease again. For chocolate cakes I sprinkle with cocoa powder instead of flour.
  2. Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. You can do this on the stove top as well; I did.
  3. Add sugar; beat with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. I was a bit afraid my eggs would scramble adding to the hot-ish chocolate mixture but they didn’t somehow. Blend in vanilla. Combine 1 cup flour, baking soda and salt. Add to chocolate mixture; mix well. Add remaining flour alternately with buttermilk, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Bake 30 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean-ish; it should not be liquid-y but some moist bits of cake are OK. Cool in pans 10 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
  5. Fill with Coconut Filling and frost with Chocolate Ganache Frosting. Start making the ganache first and while the ganache is cooling in the fridge, start making your coconut filling. You can most likely make your filling and fill the cake by the time the ganache is about ready to spread onto the cake.

chocolate ganache frosting ingredients.

  • 16 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used a combo of both)
  • ¼ c. light corn syrup
  • 6 T. butter
  • 2 c. heavy cream

chocolate ganache frosting directions.

  1. Place the chopped chocolate, corn syrup and butter in a medium bowl.
  2. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it is hot and begins to get tiny bubbles along the edges; try not to let it boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand five minutes, then stir until smooth. If you find that when you’re stirring your chocolate is not melting into the heavy cream, you can nuke in the microwave at 30 second intervals until the chocolate starts melting.
  3. Cool to room temperature. Once the frosting has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate for 1 hour or so; after an hour in the fridge my frosting wasn’t quite thick enough for it to stick to the cake without wanting to slide off.

coconut filling ingredients.

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
  • ½ T. vanilla extract
  •  1 ½ c. sugar
  • ¾ c. butter or margarine
  • 5 c. flaked coconut (or 3 ½ c. flaked coconut + 1 ½ c. chopped pecans)

coconut filling ingredients.

  1. Beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until blended.
  2. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 min. or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  3. Add coconut; mix well. Cool to desired spreading consistency.


cake assembly directions.

  1. I like to make my cakes a day before frosting them. I stick them in the freezer and when I’m about ready to frost will bring them out so they begin to defrost. It seems easier to slice the cakes in half when they are slightly frozen and/or cold.
  2. Make the ganache first. It’s time-consuming to allow it to cool in the fridge. You should be able to have the entire cake sliced and assembled by the time you’re ready to frost.
  3. Remove the cakes from the pan. Using a long serrated knife, slice off the domes of the layers. I like to save the domes and make my own mini-layer cake in a bowl. Slice layer in half using the serrated knife so that you get two layers instead of the one thicker layer. Repeat with the remaining layer cakes so that you have six layers total.
  4. I have a cake stand that rotates. I put my cakes on top a cardboard round and then put down three strips of wax paper in a triangle. The point of this is so that inevitably when I get frosting all over the bottom of the cake, I can later pull the wax paper off and have a clean-looking cake. This is especially important if you’re assembling your cake right on top of you cake platter.
  5. Set down the first cake layer and spread a modest amount of the coconut filling from the middle not quite to the edges. Leave about half an inch or so. You will need about six equal portions of the coconut filling so make sure you appropriately portion while you’re filling. Top the frosted cake with another layer of cake and repeat until you get to the last layer. Do not frost the top layer with filling. Reserve the remaining filling for later. You’re now ready to frost the cake with the ganache frosting.
  6. Make sure your layers are in line. If you need to, do some adjusting. I try to keep an eye on my layers when I’m adding them during the filling process because it can be hard to adjust six layers once everything is all stacked. I tend to slice the layers unevenly and try to match up the thick part of one layer with an equally thin part of another layer when I’m adding a cake layer on top. I will tell you that you can do wonders with frosting, however. With the right artistry, you can make leaning cake look like it’s leaning less or a sloping top layer look even.
  7. The ganache should be cool enough that you can spread it without dripping at this point. If not, you can wait for the ganache to cool more or you can try to spread the drippy ganache on your cake. It’s not impossible to do – the ganache will firm as it continues to cool – but it can be a mess. I frost the top of the cake first and then make my way down the sides using an offset spatula to press ganache into the crevices between the layers. You’ll want to frost your cake with at least two layers of frosting. In the first go round you’ll do a lot of filling in of cracks and crevices. You’ll see spots of your cake where the cake peeks through the frosting. That’s OK. That’s what the second layer is for. On the second layer of frosting you can make sure your cake is totally smooth. If there are any “bald” spots (or spots where the cake peeks through) just patch it up with a dab of ganache and blend into the rest of the cake.img_0941
  8. I had a ton of leftover ganache frosting. Leftover frosting is never a bad thing. You can use it for your individual layer cake. You can pipe more frosting on top in a decorative manner. That’s what I did in this instance. I piped frosting using a small perfectly round hole.Refrigerate to set the ganache. I didn’t time this step but I would say you may want to refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
  9. Once the ganache has set, take the remaining coconut and spread over the top of the cake. Alternatively you could probably frost the top with the remaining coconut and then do your decorative piping of the frosting.


A note about this cake: the traditional frosting calls for pecans. I don’t happen to love pecans in baked things but I actually would have added pecans to this recipe had I had any in my freezer. I had walnuts and almonds but no pecans.

I’ve made German chocolate cake before. Twice, I believe. But this version was by far the best of any of the ones I’ve ever made. I like the cake in this version much better than the version that uses beaten egg whites. Also, the addition of the ganache frosting (as opposed to using all coconut) makes the cake look and taste more polished.

Recipe rating: 






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