German Chocolate Snack Cake With Coconut-Pecan Frosting

German Chocolate Snack Cake! Same chocolate cake with gooey coconut-pecan topping, but way easier to make.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 10 to 12 servings (1 9x13 cake)


For the cake:

  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (21 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional (for deeper chocolate flavor)
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the coconut pecan frosting:

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 8 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (323 grams) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 4 ounces (113 grams, 1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Special equipment:


1 Prep the oven and pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

2 Combine the dry ingredients: Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl.

German Chocolate Cake

3 Make the batter: In a measuring cup combine the boiling water, chocolate, and espresso. Cover and let the hot water melt the chocolate, about 10 minutes, and whisk until smooth. Check the water with your finger; it's fine if it's still a little warm, but it should no longer be hot to the touch.

In a separate bowl (or in your measuring cup, if it's large enough), combine chocolate-water with the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and beat, using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, until just combined. Stop periodically and scrape the bottom of the bowl.

German Chocolate Cake

4 Bake the cake: Spread the batter into the pan and bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the top springs back to the touch, the sides of the cake have pulled slightly away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Leave the cake in the pan, and set it on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting, about 45 minutes.

5 Make the frosting: Whisk together the egg yolks, evaporated milk, and brown sugar in a saucepan. Add the butter and warm over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt, followed by the coconut and pecans.

The frosting should be thick, creamy, and nubbly with coconut and pecans.

German Chocolate Cake German Chocolate Cake

6 Finish the cake: Cool the frosting to room temperature and spread generously onto the cake. Serve the cake from the pan.

The cake can be made a few days ahead, but wait to top it with the coconut-pecan frosting until before serving. This cake is best served the same day it's frosted. Leftovers can be kept, covered, for 2 to 3 days at room temperature.

German Chocolate Cake

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  • Kay

    I made the cake and frosting and it was so amazing!!! I always thought I hated this cake, turns out I hate it from the store!!! So good and easy!!!


  • Bree

    Loved this! One of my favourites. There certainly is a generous amount of the frosting, which is excellent.


  • Cindy Rahe

    Hi Maxia,

    Yes, I think you can make this as an 8-inch, 2 layer cake without duplicating!

  • Maxia Severino

    How long can this cake last outside the fridge? My mom loves pecans and I want to bake this for her bday but we are going away to a cabin and i would have to make it 2 days before. Thank you!

    • Cindy Rahe

      I think you could make the cake and frosting separately ahead of time and frost it the day of. I would probably refrigerate the frosting and let it come to room temp before putting it on the cake (you may have to stir it first, in case there’s any separation).

      • Maxia Severino

        GREAT! One question: would this batch be enough to make it a 2 layers 8 inch cake? Or should I duplicate the recipe or something? Thank you very much for takin the time to reply.

  • Yuri

    Hi Can I do make half of size or amount ? Our family member is only 3 with Senior.
    Thank you

  • Charlene Youmans

    I love German chocolate cake but my grandson cannot eat the pecans is there any other kind of icing that you could use beside the pecans he is allergic to nuts I also am not crazy about the pecans but I love coconut if there is maybe you could let me know am going to print the recipe anyway thank you Charlene

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Charlene! Can your grandson eat other kinds of nuts? I think walnuts would actually be quite nice. Hazelnuts would be HEAVENLY, though they can be kind of expensive unless you can find a good deal. Let us know what you end up using! I’m curious to hear how it turns out.

      • Jennifer

        If a Trader Joe’s is nearby try there. I’ve found their nuts are by far cheaper than the supermarket. Or Whole Foods they sell nuts in bulk you can simply buy what you need .

  • Gary

    What if I want to make it non-dairy, what I can substitute for evaporated milk?

    • Cindy Rahe

      I’m not sure what to substitute for evaporated milk since it’s the only way I have ever made it. My first instinct would be full-fat coconut milk from a can, but I have not tried it so I can’t say with any certainty that it would work. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

  • NewYorkGirl

    Is there something else you can use in place of canola oil ?

    • R3Mama

      Melted coconut oil maybe? I can see that flavor in the cake pairing well with the coconut in the frosting :)

    • Cindy Rahe

      Pretty much any neutral oil works here!