My hubby loves Baseball Nut ice cream and so every year I order him a Baseball Nut ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins for his birthday. Then it dawned on me, we live in Germany, how in the heck am I going to order him a cake this year? My next thought was how about a chocolate cake, he loves chocolate. He inhales anything made with chocolate, but what kind of chocolate cake should I make him, there are so many. One day I asked him casually over dinner what his absolute favorite cake was and he said German Chocolate cake. Just like that I learned something about him I didn’t know after nineteen years of marriage. Yay! I was on a mission; I would make him the best ever German Chocolate cake from scratch.
Not ever having made a German Chocolate cake from scratch I scoured every cookbook I own looking for a recipe I liked or for some kind of inspiration. Zip, zero, nada. So off I went to search the internet. There it was, the first line on my Google search, a German Chocolate Cake by David Lebovitz, I just laughed out loud. David is an amazing pastry chef living in Paris whose book I’m currently reading, “The Sweet Life in Paris”. I quickly opened the post and began reading. The recipe didn’t sound too daunting and I’d baked a cake or two from scratch so I decided this would be the recipe. However, I decided to substitute Mexican chocolate wherever it asked for bittersweet chocolate for the cake and the icing.
Remember I said I live in Germany, well with it comes the trial and error of learning how to bake in a German oven. So you guessed it, I over baked it, actually I think I have a convection oven which cooks everything in less time. Thank goodness I noticed the cake was ready and took it out before it baked much longer. Needless to say it did get a little stuck in the pan but I managed to gently rescue it out and adhere it together with some of the filling and the icing. So if it looks unnaturally crooked, you know why. There is only so much magic filling and icing can do.
If you know anything about German Chocolate Cake you know the filling is made with coconut and pecans and this version is superb because the coconut and pecans are slightly toasted which gives it a smoky and buttery taste. Then there’s the glaze, the buttery rum glaze (yes, rum) used to coat each layer of cake before adding the coconut and pecan filling and then decadently enveloping the entire cake in a thick rich layer of chocolate icing made with Mexican chocolate, which gave it a subtle hint of cinnamon.
The recipe is wildly delicious and it passed the chocolate lover’s test. My hubby took one bite, and he made that long mmmmm sound he makes when he really, really likes something. Okay he always makes that sound but I could tell he loved it. In the end the most important thing is that he loved it, I love that he loved it and now I know what his favorite cake is. Will I make this recipe again? Yup, every year because I love him so. Feliz cumpleaños mi amor.
German/Mexican Chocolate Cake
Yield: Makes about 16 servings
For the cake:
2 ounces Mexican chocolate, chopped (recommend Ibarra)
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons water
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
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 Mexican chocolate, chopped, (recommend Ibarra)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 ½ ounces unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter two 9-inch cake pans, and then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper.
Melt both chocolates together with the oil and water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave. Stir until smooth, and then set aside until room temperature.
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.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
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.
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.
Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there’s no trace of egg white visible.
Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 40 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.
Making the Filling:
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.
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 degrees F.)
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.)
Preparing the syrup:
In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.
Making the Icing:
Place the 8 ounces of Mexican chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and butter.
Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, and then stir until smooth. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar to thicken. Add one cup at a time until you get the consistency you need to frost the cake. Let sit until room temperature.
Assembling 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 final top layer.
Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.
Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz
Written by Veronica / Photos by Veronica