German Chocolate Cake is not from Germany. It is actually a misnomer. It should be, I learned from my handy cake book, German's Chocolate Cake. Apparently, a Texan housewife submitted the first variation of this recipe to a newspaper some decades ago and German's Baker's Chocolate realized what a gold mine was before it. It started to publish the recipe and voila voila, German (and Germany?) has a chocolate cake.
The recipe for this cake is complicated, but worth the effort. The cake itself includes 6oz. of Baker's Sweet Chocolate and whipped egg whites and has no less than 14 different steps. The steps range from easy to what? for the new baker. Dry mixing the powdered ingredients, separating the eggs (use three bowls!), beating the eggs whites to stiff peaks (fast! is key to beating in enough air to make the peaks stiff) and melting the chocolate with exactly 1/2 c. of boiling water. The cake is fluffy, dense, chocolately, delicious and the addition of buttermilk gives it a not-too-sweet-just-right finish.
However, what really makes this cake tick - what makes it a German's Chocolate Cake and not just a chocolate cake is of course the icing. The chocolate icing on the side is completely optional. The recipe I used called for confectioner's sugar, vanilla, milk and 2 oz. Baker's Sweet Chocolate. It is too sweet and not chocolately enough. I think that next time I attempt this cake, I will either try leaving this icing off completely (one icing is sufficiant I think!) or reducing the amount of confectioner's sugar and substituting in some coca powder to tone down the icing's sweetness.
So what does make this cake tick? The coconut/pecan icing between the layers of course. This recipe called for sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, vanilla, coconut and pecans. It's a fairly good icing but for me, this icing should have a slight tang to it and this one did not. Another recipe that I have used to make this icing calls for buttermilk in the icing and I think this is what makes the difference. Oh also, using a double boiler to heat the egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk does NOT insure that your egg yolks will not curdle a bit. But a quick pass through the strainer, back onto the heat and it's all good.
Overall, this was a very good cake with two icings that were slightly too sweet. A problem easily remedied and an excellent cake awaits us next time around.