German Chocolate Cake has been a wonderful addition to our repertoire of cakes for as long as I can remember. It became a favorite of my daughter’s when she was just 6, which was a wonder to me since most kids don’t like coconut or pecans. So when Katie was diagnosed with Abdominal Migraines at that same age, we had to make modifications. Her triggers for her migraines have changed over the years, but two remain constant and intense: nitrates and anxiety. Unfortunately, nitrates can be found in almost everything. What we didn’t realize for years is that they are even in flour – disguised at Vitamin B – a synthetic form called Thiamine Mononitrate. The nitrates are used for stabilization (shelf life, really). Since we have cut this out, Katie has done a lot better. This means a lot of label reading when we purchase anything store bought and not homemade. This also means buying flour and ingredients that do not contain mononitrates. We have found a few flours that are just pure and not enriched, which has led to a new food freedom for Kate to be able to once again enjoy some of her favorites.
As her 17th birthday approached, we discussed cake options. I was thinking she was going to ask for some over the top decorated beauty, but I should have known better. Katie is a simple girl, not much for the way something looks as much as how it tastes! Therefore, came her request for her long lost German Chocolate Cake.
I set out to find one that would match her party venue – the neighborhood pool – which meant it needed to be easily transportable and not hard to cut or eat. I wanted it to be quick and easy since I was making pretty detailed cookies already and we had a lot to prep and plan for a bbq. I went to one of my go to websites: A Bountiful Kitchen, and I searched. Lo and behold, there was a freshly blogged recipe for German Chocolate Cake. Katie and I looked over the recipe and decided we would give it a go. We headed to the store to grab the ingredients – first up on the list – 1 box chocolate cake – any brand. We began to look at the ingredients of each and every cake box, only to come to find out there was not a single cake mix that didn’t contain mononitrates. “Of course,” Katie commented, as per her usual disappointment with most things that she would like to eat, but cannot. “Well, now what?” I thought, “Do I try to find another recipe? One that doesn’t require a cake mix?” As I sat there pondering, my eyes still scanning the shelves of cake mixes, I stumbled across King Arthurs Gluten Free Chocolate Cake mix. Wait – could this be my answer?
I grabbed the box and eagerly looked at the ingredients – NO mononitrate! Gluten free sometimes comes enriched as well, so there was no guarantee, but I knew that their gluten free muffins didn’t have nitrates so I was hoping! I quickly showed Katie the box and decided this might work. Not to mention, one of her friends coming has to eat gluten free so that would work out nicely. “Let’s just pray this tastes good!” I said to Katie as we tossed the box into the cart. “It’s fine if it doesn’t mom, at least we have your cookies,” she replied. She was always so kind and accommodating. But honestly, I really wanted her to have a lovely cake for her birthday.
I set out to make the cake the day before, so that the morning of, I just needed to make the topping and frosting and assemble. I followed the recipe exactly, just replacing the boxed cake with the gluten free one. When finished baking, I pulled it out of the oven and let sit for 10 minutes, then plopped it out on a wire rack! It looked great! I ran upstairs to Katie’s room, “Well it looks great! But I have no idea how it tastes!” I laughed.
“We shall see tomorrow I guess,” Katie smirked back. I knew she didn’t really care if it was ok or not, she just appreciated the effort.
The next day, I made the topping and frosting, assembled the cake and threw it into the fridge. I came back from the pool after dinner to grab the cake and get ready for the big moment. After the breeze decided to blow out her candles for her, we dug in. SUCCESS!! The cake was amazing!! As per usual gluten free baked items, it was a little dense, but very moist and tasted amazing. You wouldn’t even be able to tell it was gluten free! I might try to play around with the recipe a tad to see if I can lighten it up a bit. The cake came out more fudgey due to the cake mix. Perhaps trying a different brand of gluten free chocolate cake. I don’t think there are many to choose from, but I will hunt them down. But all in all, it is a great cake! I think making it as it is intended would make a perfectly chocolate and decadent German Chocolate Cake! The chocolate cream cheese frosting on top of the topping is a great addition and really balances out the flavors. The ease of making it a bundt pan along with throwing the topping on and a little back and forth piping action with the frosting making this easy to decorate, and yielding a beautiful cake. I highly recommend.
Tips and Tricks:
- Use my fave spray to spray the bundt pan for this cake to come out of the pan perfectly! Baker’s Joy – it is a flour spray made specifically for baking. Love it! If you can’t find any, just make sure you spray the bundt pan a couple of times with cooking spray to insure you coat all the crevices.
- When making the topping on the stove top, make sure you whisk whisk whisk. You don’t want your eggs to curdle and ruin your it. Don’t leave it unattended.
- You will know the butter mixture for the topping is done when it is thickened up and bubbly. Mine took about 10 minutes.
- I recommend just putting your frosting in a gallon ziplock bag (I used freezer type) and then putting it in the fridge till ready to use. You can then snip off one corner of the bag and use it like a pastry bag to pipe your frosting in a back and forth motion over the top of the cake. I piped some out and used a cake knife to spread a bit and then went back over with more to create a fun look.
- Since the frosting has cream cheese in it, you will not want to leave it out for too long. It is fine for an hour or so, but after that, the frosting is going to loose its stability and go rancid.
Most importantly, take the time to simply enjoy your creation with your friends and family. Don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out perfectly! Food like this is about making memories! Your senses are a part of the memories you make. When an old song reminds you of your first school dance, a wafting smell takes you back to your first county fair, the taste of an old favorite reminds you of your grandmother’s smile. Enjoy the moment!
Recipe found here
(Recipe copied from ABK – make sure to visit her website for the full recipe and walk through)
- 1 cake mix – chocolate any name brand will work
- 1 small box instant pudding chocolate (dry, not mixed with milk)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup water
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 6 oz can EVAPORATED milk not sweetened condensed
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter cut into pieces
- 1 1/2 cups coconut sweet flake
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- 8 oz cream cheese not low fat, softened
- 1/4 cup butter room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
Turn oven to 350 degrees and place rack in middle of oven.
Place the wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix until blended well. Add the cake mix, box of pudding, unsweetened cocoa and sugar. Mix for about 2 minutes on medium speed or until blended well. Turn beater on high for about 1 minute.
Generously grease a bundt pan.
Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched lightly.
Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, then turn cake out onto cooking rack and let cool top side down until completely cooled.
MAKE THE TOPPING AND FROSTING WHILE CAKE IS BAKING:
Beat Evaporated milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a large sauce pan with a whisk or fork. Add sugar and butter and cook over medium heat for about 10-12 minutes until mixture is thickened and starts to turn a golden color. Whisk while cooking every few seconds. When the mixture has thickened, remove from heat and add coconut and nuts.
Set aside to cool. Place in a bowl and set in refrigerator until ready to use.
Beat cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat on low until smooth. Add vanilla and pinch of salt.
Using large Ziplock bag, or cake decorating bag, placing the bag inside of the cup or small bowl. fold the ends of the bag over a cup, and fill the bag with the frosting. Squeeze the frosting to one end of the bag. Snip off a small end of the bag when ready to frost.
Place the cake on a flat plate or cake stand.
Top the cake with the coconut pecan mixture using a spoon.
Using the bag of frosting, pipe the frosting onto the cake until all of the frosting is used. You may also fill two bags and snip off one large and one smaller opening if you want to achieve a look similar to the one in the photo.