Saturday, June 11, 2011

German Chocolate Cake: National German Chocolate Cake Day

Today is National German Chocolate Cake Day. It may sound odd that's there's a national holiday for German Chocolate Cake, but this cake is not German. German Chocolate Cake is an American creation that contains the key ingredients of sweet baking chocolate, coconut, and pecans.

In 1852, Sam German created a dark baking chocolate bar for Baker's Chocolate Company, and in his honor, the company named it "Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate."  In 1957, probably the first published recipe for German's chocolate cake showed up in a Dallas newspaper and supposedly came from a Texas homemaker. The cake quickly gained in popularity and the recipe together with photos spread all over the country. America fell in love with German Chocolate Cake, and food editors were swamped with requests for information on where to buy the chocolate. In one year, there was a 73% sales jump in German's Baker Sweet chocolate sales (then owned by General Mills). I grew up with Baker's chocolate as the baking chocolate we used for brownies and other chocolate recipes.

However, the cake most likely didn't originate from the Dallas housewife. Buttermilk chocolate cakes were popular in the South for over 70 years, and pecans were plentiful, also, to make the frosting. Point of fact: German's chocolate is similar to a milk chocolate and sweeter than regular baking chocolate.

Here's the "Original Recipe." I found this specific recipe in many places on the Internet, and I daresay no one can claim it as its own. So even if you think you're making Grandmom's recipe--and it might be with a few changes over the years- the following is a basic one that millions use. That's not to say I didn't find several unique recipes for German Chocolate Cake that peaked my interest. But those are for another time.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE

THE CAKE
1 pkg. Baker's German’s sweet chocolate (4 oz.)
1/2 cup Water, boiling
1 cup Butter or margarine
2 cup Sugar
4 Eggs, separated
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2 cups Flour, all-purpose
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Buttermilk
Coconut-pecan frosting

Directions
Approx. Cook Time: 30min
1. Melt chocolate in water and cool.
2. Cream butter and Sugar.
3. Beat in egg yolks.
4. Stir in vanilla and chocolate.
5. Mix flour, soda and salt. beat in flour mixture, alternately with buttermilk.
6. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Pour batter into three 9-inch layer pans, lined on bottoms with waxed paper.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed in
center Cool 15 minutes; remove and cool on rack.

THE FILLING AND TOPPING
1-14 oz. can of condensed milk such as Eagle Brand
½ Cup water
3 egg yolks
1 t vanilla
1/2 C butter (1 stick)
1 1/3 c Pecans; chopped reserve 10 whole pecan halves for garnish.
1 ¾ c Angel flake coconut

Directions:
Cook the milk, eggs, and water over a double boiler until thickened.
Cook it over direct heat if you use complete concentration.
Then add the vanilla and butter and whisk in until it is melted and smooth.
Add the chopped pecans and coconut.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING
1 stick or 1/2 Cup butter, softened
9 squares Baker's German's chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 TBS milk
for a richer chocolate flavor, add cocoa powder- or use more German's chocolate

Mix butter and chocolate in mixing bowl. Stir in powdered sugar.
Beat vanilla and milk until smooth and of spreading consistency.

Assembly:
Divide the filling evenly between the 3 cakes putting the 1st layer down, then spread the filling evenly. Repeat with the other layer.
Frost the side or top of the cake only. (Maybe--but make more, and you can frost everything)
For garnish you can place pecan halves around the top edge.

My friend Iris makes the best German Chocolate Cake ever. She says it's an African American traditional cake made and served at New Year's. I can't find any information on that tradition in the African American community, so I think it's only a tradition in her family. Iris hasn't shared her recipe. Some people keep family recipes within the family. The photo, though, is of Iris's German Chocolate Cake. It's always fabulous!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now that is a yummy looking cake. Mom would always make this after the New Year. Why then I don't know. But her four daughters loved it. Seeing that recipe brought back some fond memories. Thanks Paulette

Lisa said...

What a great excuse to make this cake. It looks like one luscious dessert. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog till Monday night and I'd love it if you'd come by and link your cake up. http://sweet-as-sugar-cookies.blogspot.com/2011/06/sweets-for-saturday-21.html

Rachel Page said...

I love this richly layered cake. A sure hit for chocolate lovers.