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 most recipes and products today, the apostrophe and the "s" have been dropped. 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. German Chocolate Cake is also regular item in bakeries and supermarkets across the country, and there are mixes in most markets.
However, the cake most likely didn't originate from a 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. Actually in 1957, Baker's was flooded with messages from newspapers demanding the recipe. 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Have a wonderful German Chocolate Cake Day on June 11!
Top photo from Wikipedia. My cakes never look like this, but something to aspire to...