Sarah's German Chocolate Cake

Sarah’s take on a single-serving German Chocolate cake…perfectly sized in a 6-inch cake pan…shown here on a Jeff Oestreich dessert plate.

My favorite holiday recipe is for German Chocolate Cake, adapted from my Grandma Betty Jo’s old recipe card, which my father has refused to give to me…so I rely on an old Xerox copy.

Betty Jo is with me every time I bake.  She passed away over 15 years ago, but her spirit lives on every time I preheat my oven and reach for my measuring spoons. I’d like to think if she were alive today, she’d enjoy selecting the perfect ceramic plate from the cabinet as much as she enjoyed baking. 

My husband and I made the now famed “cake” the first New Year’s Eve we spent together.  Now, it’s an annual tradition and a sweet little date night during the holiday season. When I think of German Chocolate Cake, I recall memories of watching my Grandma bake, eating this delicious cake made by my father for me, and now, fun memories of Mike + me + a little wine in the kitchen baking our way into the New Year.

Grandma Betty Jo’s Recipe for German Chocolate Cake (with a few Sarah updates)


1 package Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate (may add some bitter chocolate if desired)

¾ cup butter

½ cup boiling water

2 cups sugar

4 egg yolks

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2.5 cups sifted cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

4 egg whites stiffly beaten

Melt chocolate in ½ cup boiling water; cool.  Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in separate dish.  Cream butter and sugar; add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well in between.  Add vanilla, then chocolate.  Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk.  Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.  Bake in 3 layers of floured, buttered pans (enough cake batter for three 9-inch pans) for 350 degrees for up to 30 minutes. Check for doneness.


1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk

1.5 cups sugar

4 egg yolks

1.5 teaspoons vanilla

¾ cup butter, cut into cubes for easy melting

2.5 cups coconut

1.5 cups++ chopped pecans

Whisk egg yolks and milk in saucepan.  Add sugar and butter while cooking on medium heat for 12 – 15 minutes or until thickened.  Stir continuously during this process.  When thickened and golden brown, remove from heat and then mix in coconut and pecans.  Let stand for several hours until cool and thickened. 

Spread layers of icing between cake layers. I prefer one single, fully iced cake or three tiers with icing only in between and on top.

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