German Chocolate Cake – Maine Ingredient

This rich cake is saved from being cloyingly sweet by the bittersweet chocolate ganache and the pecans which both add a slight layer of tang or acidity that combines to big time advantage with the sweet frosting.  It ran with a Homemade Macaroni and Cheese recipe in the Portland Press Herald last Wednesday.

German Chocolate Cake
The box recipe that my mom and grandma always used to make was never attractive to me as a child.  With the addition of a layer of ganache, however, the balance of bitter and sweet in the chocolate make this a dessert my daughters love.  Me too!  I used the traditional recipe for the frosting, but instead of standing over the stove for 12 to 15 minutes stirring constantly, I put the frosting over a double boiler and only stir occasionally.  It takes longer, closer to 30 minutes for the mixture to thicken.  The ganache is straight from Christopher Kimball’s The Dessert Bible.  It’s perfect just the way it is and needs not even a little tweaking.

German chocolate actually has less cacao, what gives chocolate its distinctive flavor, than semi sweet or bittersweet at 46%, 54% and 67% respectively.  This then the reason that the cakes are lighter in color and chocolate flavor.  (And also why the layer of ganache makes this cake so much better.)

Cake:
4 ounces German chocolate, 4 squares, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces or smaller
1/2 cup fresh, hot coffee
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, plus a little more for the pan
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans.  In a small bowl, combine the chocolate and coffee and cover.  Stir after 5 minutes to make sure the chocolate has melted.  Cool.  Cream the butter and sugar together and then add the eggs one at a time.  Add the cooled chocolate.  Sift the flour over the creamed mixture alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla.  Mix until just combined.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a tooth pick comes clean when inserted into the center of the cake.   Let cool in the pan.

Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
8 ounces German or bittersweet chocolate, 8 squares, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces or smaller

In a small saucepan, bring the cream, butter and syrup to a strong simmer.  Add the chocolate and cover for 5 minutes.  Stir to be sure the chocolate has fully melted.  Then cool to a point where it will set on the cake, but is still spreadable.

Coconut Frosting:
1, 12oz. can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter, one stick
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup toasted coconut
1 cup toasted pecans

Place all ingredients except coconut and pecans in the top of a double boiler, keeping at least 1-inch of simmering water in the lower pan.  Stir occasionally until the mixture thickens considerably.  Add the coconut and cool in the refrigerator until it will spread, but set well on the cake.

Assemble the Cake:
Place a dollop of ganache on a flat, round platter or upturned round baking dish.  (This is if you don’t have a cake turn table.)  Flip one of the cakes top side down into the middle of the platter.  Spread half of the ganache and then repeat with the second cake, again top side down.  Spread the coconut frosting on the top and sides of the cake.  With your hands, press the pecans into the sides of the cake, picking up what doesn’t stick and repeating until the entire side is covered.

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One Comment

  1. Eileen Hoffman
    Posted October 26, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I bake myself a German Chocolate Cake EVERY year for my birthday and I bake one for Harold for his, too. Mine will soon be here, and I plan to make the ganache layer you’re raving about. It’s hard to mess with perfection, so I’d only take a tip on this sublime cake from someone like you, Annie.
    Cheers! And here’s to MANY more birthday cakes!!!

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