A couple months ago, I volunteered to bake my dad’s birthday cake. Probably his favorite dessert would be anything fruit-related, but he’s also a huge fan of German chocolate cake, which I’ve never attempted before. And he hasn’t had one for his birthday in years. According to my sister, who hates German chocolate cake, he requested it “every single year,” but I don’t remember this – must have been before I was around. I started researching recipes and wow were they complicated. Most included buttermilk and a complicated process, and I didn’t intend to go to the grocery store or work that hard. So maybe this isn’t an authentic German chocolate cake, maybe I took a few shortcuts, but it’s still pretty awesome.
I decided to save a little time by going with a cake mix but a scratch-made frosting and filling. I started by making a chocolate cake according to its package directions. I baked it in a 9″ springform pan so that the sides would be straight up and not slanted, easier for slicing and stacking into layers. Since I did the entire batch in one pan, it took about 40 minutes to bake. If you did two 8″ rounds, it would bake faster, and you wouldn’t have to worry about slicing. Just fyi.
While it baked, I worked on the frosting/filling. I separated the yolks of 3 eggs and added them to a medium saucepan. (I saved the whites for breakfast the next day.) I added in 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup evaporated milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. I stirred everything up well and then turned on the stove to medium heat. I recommend stirring things well before you turn the heat on and continuing to stir well, because I had some issues with eggs cooking too fast. Egg chunks in frosting is not ideal.
I let this cook, stirring almost continuously, until it was nice and thick. I removed the pot from the heat and stirred in 1 1/3 cup coconut flakes and 1 cup chopped pecans. I let it cool on the stove top for a while and then cooled it even more in the fridge, till it was a spreadable consistency.
All that was left was to assemble. I sliced the cake in half to get two round layers. I spread a thick layer of the coconut-pecan mixture all around and then carefully set the top layer back onto the cake. Then I spread the coconut-pecan frosting all around the top. All that was left was the birthday candles.