If ever you've made your way around a German Chocolate Frosting, you know without a doubt it's got coconut and it's got pecans. But what is it that holds those two quintessential ingredients together?
You might be surprised to learn it's a little more custard than it is frosting, and although custard can be a great big scary word in the world of baking, it's really not a difficult thing to make. You just need a reliable recipe (box checked) and a little patience. That last one is up to you.
GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE ISN'T GERMAN AT ALL
You also might be surprised to learn that German Chocolate Cake is not from Germany. Like, at all.
Nope -- this cake is as American as it gets. And, while it was named after American baker, Samuel Baker, who was responsible for the type of chocolate used in the original cake recipe, the cake itself was actually the creation of homemaker Mrs. George Clay. This native Texan submitted her cake recipe to the Dallas Star newspaper in 1957, and the rest is history.
FOOLPROOF GERMAN CHOCOLATE FROSTING
German Chocolate Cake is all about the frosting. It's what differentiates this nutty coconut confection of a cake from your standard chocolate cake recipe. So, if you're looking to nail the perfect Homemade German Chocolate Cake, you're going to first need to conquer that German Chocolate Frosting.
This thing is very well-balanced. Just enough nuttiness to counter the sweet, and the texture is the perfect combination of crunchy, chewy, and gooey thanks to the coconut and pecans we add to the brown sugar mixture.
Though this recipe may seem a little intimidating compared to your average vanilla or cream cheese frostings, trust us when we say that it is foolproof. If you follow the directions, it should turn out great! And what an accomplishment! This is a super handy recipe to have in your back pocket for those times when you want to impress your guests with something a little more luxurious.
Love Texas-born chocolate cakes? Prepare to swoon for our Original Texas Sheet Cake recipe. Save the recipe in your internet browser for next time!
GERMAN CHOCOLATE FROSTING INGREDIENTS
- Butter | Make sure you use unsalted butter for this recipe.
- Evaporated Milk | Regular, fresh milk will not work in this recipe. The frosting will be too liquidy if you attempt to sub it in. Be sure to use evaporated milk only.
- Brown Sugar | Thanks to a touch of molasses, brown sugar has a richness neither granulated sugar nor powdered sugar holds a candle to. You can use light or dark brown sugar for this recipe.
- Egg Yolks | Egg yolks are a key ingredient and the thickener in this coconut pecan frosting. Cold eggs are easier to separate than room-temperature eggs, but we highly recommend you avoid using cold eggs in this recipe. Instead, we suggest separating the egg yolks in advance and allowing them to sit for about 3o minutes to come to room temperature before using.
- Vanilla Extract | Vanilla extract ups the flavor ante of almost anything it touches, including this German Chocolate Frosting.
- Coconut | Make sure you buy a sweetened, shredded coconut for this recipe!
- Pecans | Of course, this recipe couldn't possibly be complete without chopped pecans. If you want your frosting to be over the top delicious, feel free to toast them before adding them to the mix!
HOW TO MAKE GERMAN CHOCOLATE FROSTING
- Combine butter, milk, and sugar in a saucepan and stir occasionally until melted.
- Have room temperature yolks ready in a small bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of the stovetop mixture to the yolks and stir. Repeat once more.
- Add the yolks to the saucepan and stir. Bring to a simmer and stir or whisk often for about 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla, salt, coconut, and pecans.
- Chill for 1 ½ hours before using.
1. COMBINE BUTTER, MILK, AND SUGAR
The first thing you'll do to kick off your German chocolate frosting is combine room temperature unsalted butter, evaporated milk, and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until the butter has completely melted.
Once the mixture is melted and warmed through, you'll begin tempering your eggs. For this recipe, you will need four egg yolks.
2. TEMPER THE EGG YOLKS
The egg yolks are the thickener in German Chocolate Frosting, also adding a great deal of richness to the recipe. However, you have to handle them with care and take the time to temper them.
Tempering eggs keeps them from scrambling in hot liquids. To temper your yolks, simply add a couple of tablespoons of the warm liquid from the saucepan to a small bowl housing the yolks and stir. Repeat this process once more, and consider your egg yolks tempered!
At this point, you'll add your yolk mixture to the saucepan and stir to combine.
Allow the mixture to come to a simmer and continue simmering for about 10 minutes, stirring often. As the mixture heats up, it will thicken to a consistency that is able to hold together all that nutty coconut goodness to come.
4. ADD REMAINING INGREDIENTS
Once the mixture is noticeably thicker and golden brown in color, remove it from the heat and stir in vanilla extract and salt. Then add in your chopped pecans and sweetened shredded coconut and stir to combine.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and place it in the refrigerator for about an hour and a half, until it has cooled completely.
Once the German Chocolate Frosting has cooled, you can use it to finish off chocolate cupcakes, in between stacked chocolate cake layers, or as a top dressing for a chocolate sheet cake.
6 MORE CAKE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
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- Easy Homemade Yellow Cake
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German Chocolate Frosting is all things buttery and sweet, with the perfect amount of pecans and coconut to round out the flavor and texture!
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
- 1 ¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 4 egg yolks, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
- 1 ½ cup chopped pecans
Add the butter, milk, and sugar to a large saucepan over medium heat and allow to melt, stirring occasionlly.
Add the egg yolks to a small bowl and ladle in about 2 tablespoons of the warm stovetop mixture. Stir, and repeat once more.
Then, add the egg mixture to the saucepan and stir. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt, followed by the coconut, and pecans.
Transfer to a bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool for about 1 ½ hours.