Sugarbird's Sweet Nothings

I am passionate about food. And cooking. And baking. And running. Come and find a new recipe, a funny story, some strong opinions and whatever else I feel like throwing in the mix today.
Published on November 23rd, 2011
by Clarabella

German Chocolate Cake

Hello world. Its been a while. How are you doing?

I am ok. Living with cake, cake and more cake. Recently I made a wedding cake that I didn’t know was a wedding cake, I made 150 cupcakes in little bags, and today I have been making a marriage proposal in Venice cake. Complete with gondola, man on bended knee(s) and pretty scenery. But today’s post is about the king of the chocolate cakes. German Chocolate Cake.

I attend the Clandestine Cake Club in Manchester. It is a group of ladies who all love to make, and eat cake. Every meeting there is a theme and we all make a cake in line with the theme. Then we bring the cakes to a meeting place, a different one every time, and we sit around, drink coffee, talk about cake, and most importantly, eat a lot of cake. And I mean a lot.  I think this time I managed to have a teeny sliver of about 6 different cakes. I’d love to try them all, but my stomach is not up to the challenge of 15 or so cakes, unfortunately.

This months theme was family favourites. As I could not think of a particular cake that was a ‘favourite’ in the family, I decided to be liberal with the theme and go with a cake that is from my heritage. I have heard of German Chocolate Cake before, so this was a perfect opportunity to bake it up with my German heritage.

A far as cakes go, I make a lot of them. Most days of the week. Yesterday I made 3, and that was when I got home from my shift at the bakery, but this cake, this cake is different. Its a project cake. It consists of no less than 4 components – sponge, syrup, filling and ganache, and it takes time. But oh is it worth it. It is sublime, divine, heavenly. And all the ladies of the CCC concur.

I cannot take the credit for the recipe, it is courtesy of Mr David Liebovitz,  but I can take credit for my making of it, and I take credit for the chunk of it I munched, and for the fact that there was not a single bit left. The sponge is so light and moist from the syrup it alone would be a treat, but that filling. Oh that filling. I could have munched the entire bowl with a spoon and then happily drifted off into a sugar & butter induced coma. Its good. Make it.

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German Chocolate Cake

OK, the recipe looks long, I know. And I won’t deny that you need a couple of hours in which to construct this beauty. You cannot whip it up on a whim. But I say again, its sooooo worth it. Every second. Every mouthful. Mmmmmm.

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

For the cake:
4 ounces dark chocolate chopped
6 tablespoons water
8 ounces 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 toasted and finely chopped pecans
1 1/3 cups desiccated coconut, toasted

For the syrup:
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum or 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate ganache:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
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 the chocolate 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 back of your spoon

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/vanilla extract.

To make the ganache:

1. Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the 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 ganache, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

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