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German Chocolate Layer Cake

German Chocolate Layer Cake

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: german chocolate layer cake
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 1297kcal
Author: Kara Jane @ I Scream for Buttercream
A moist, from scratch German chocolate layer cake that's filled with coconut pecan filling, then covered in rich German chocolate buttercream.
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For the cake:

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour (see FAQ section in post if you can't get cake flour)
  • ½ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup regular milk (whole milk is best here)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (slightly cooler than room temperature)
  • 4 oz. sweetened German's chocolate, melted (I used Bakers brand)

For the coconut pecan filling:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut (can use an additional ½ cup coconut to make filling thicker)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 1 cup salted butter (room temp-see instructions if you do not have access to salted butter)
  • 6 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 4 oz sweetened German's chocolate (I used Baker's brand)
  • 3 tablespoons milk (can add in another tablespoon if needed)


For the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease and flour two 8" round (2" inch deep) cake pans and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, break up the sweet German chocolate and melt in the microwave. Set this aside to cool while you mix up the other cake ingredients.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In another bowl, mix together the buttermilk, regular milk, oil, eggs, and extract. Whisk well and set aside.
  • Make sure the butter is slightly cooler than room temperature. Add the butter (in chunks) slowly to your dry ingredients while mixing at medium-low speed. (You can turn your stand mixer on medium-low and leave it on while you add the butter chunks a bit at a time, or you can use a hand mixer.)
  • Turn the mixer up to medium and mix until all the flour is coated with the butter and the mixture is crumbly. It will have a sand-like texture.
  • Pour in about half of the liquid mixture. Mix on low to medium for about a minute.
  • Pour the last of the liquid mixture and mix again only until well combined. Don't over mix the batter at this point. Mixing it for several minutes is too long. Once all the ingredients are incorporated well, stop mixing.
  • Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix again for only about 10 seconds.
  • Add in the melted chocolate and mix again, until just combined.
  • Pour into prepared pans. The batter might look a bit grainy due to the brown sugar...that's okay.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 55-60 minutes. These layers will not bake with a dome on them. They will bake flat. Don't panic that you did anything wrong if the layers do not puff up in the middle.
  • Once baked, set on wire racks to cool for 10-15 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto the racks and let them cool out of the pans completely before adding filling and frosting.

For the filling:

  • In a medium sized saucepan, add the egg yolks, sugars, butter and evaporated milk. Slowly bring it to a low boil and then let it simmer for about 10 minutes until it thickens. Be patient with this part. Take as long as possible and heat it slowly. If you heat it too quickly, your eggs will scramble and your filling will get chunky. Raise the heat in increments. Once it's boiled and thickened a bit, remove from the heat and add the extract, coconut and pecans and stir. Set it to the side and allow it to come to room temperature before adding to the cake.

For the frosting:

  • Melt the sweet German chocolate and set aside to cool a bit.
  • Use a paddle attachment on your mixer, if you have a stand mixer. If not, just use your whisk attachment or use a hand mixer.
  • Cream the butter well at medium speed.
  • Add in the cocoa and beat on low until combined, then on medium until well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.
  • Add in 3 cups of powdered sugar. Beat on low until combined, then on medium until fully and incorporated.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of milk plus the last 3 cups of powdered sugar. Beat on low until combined, then on medium until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix again. (If it's too thick at this point, add another tablespoon or two of milk and mix.)
  • Add vanilla extract and the cooled down melted chocolate. Beat until well incorporated.
  • Check the texture of your buttercream and if it's still too thick, add milk only a tablespoon at a time, and mix after each addition.
  • For a fluffier frosting, mix on medium-high for several minutes.


This cake will need to be kept in the refrigerator if you add the filling. It can be frozen for up to a month if wrapped well in plastic wrap and foil.
Nutritional values are an estimate.
Make sure to check out the TIPS & FAQs for this recipe in the blog post.
*This recipe card may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


Calories: 1297kcal | Carbohydrates: 151g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 77g | Saturated Fat: 45g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 236mg | Sodium: 437mg | Potassium: 371mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 123g | Vitamin A: 1840IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 127mg | Iron: 3mg