Happy Birthday! German Chocolate Cake


     I started to write that this was a 2-bowl cake but the truth is I used four—one for the chocolate batter, another for the beaten egg whites + bowls for the dry ingredients and the melted chocolate . . . and, lots of measuring cups, spoons, silicon spatulas, etc.
     Straight from the Baker’s German’s Sweet  Chocolate box, the recipe is referred to as the “original.” I must take exception as my grandmother made the “original” back in the 1950s and there was not a microwave in sight in her kitchen, or anyone else’s for that matter. Other than that adaptation, I do believe it is almost exactly as she made it. And, she, too, dirtied a multitude of bowls and utensils by the time she was finished!
     I assembled the cake as instructed with the coconut-pecan filling/frosting sandwiched between and on top of the three cake layers. Grandma used that coconut-pecan mixture just as the filling and then frosted it with a chocolate ganache icing. Can you imagine how many calories were in each forkful?
     The challenge then was how to decorate the traditionally assembled cake with the coconut-pecan top. My solution was to make a chocolate plaque that I could pipe with frosting. And, I added a few caramel roses for the finishing touch.
 
Original BAKER'S GERMAN'S Sweet Chocolate Cake   Make one 3-layer cake
Prep: 30 min.  Total: 2 hr (inc. cooling)
1 pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER'S GERMAN'S Sweet Chocolate
½ cup water
4 eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (If you don't have buttermilk, just add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk; let stand 10 min.)
Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting (recipe follows)

1.     Heat oven to 350°F.
2.     Cover bottoms of 3 (9”) round pans with waxed paper (I used parchment); spray sides with cooking spray.
Using a pencil, trace around the bottom of cake pans; cut out the parchment rounds & insert in bottom of each pan.
3.     Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
When microwave time is up, stir the chocolate until smooth.
4.     Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; set aside.
Stiff peaks have formed. Click here for Tips on Egg Whites.
5.     Mix flour, baking soda and salt.
6.     Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy.
Butter and sugar have been combined and an egg yolk (step #7) is ready to be incorporated.
7.     Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition. (Start and end with the dry ingredients. When you begin with dry, the fat in the creamed mixture will start to coat the flour particles and you will avoid the development of gluten; end with dry to take up any available moisture in the batter. This is how I did it — added about 1/3 of the dry , then 1/2 of the liquid, the second third of the dry followed by the rest of the liquid, and then the final dry ingredients.)
Batter is a rich chocolate color at this point.
8.     Ad egg whites; stir gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.
Batter lightens in color and texture after the egg whites are carefully folded in.
9.     Bake 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.
Position pans in the about the center of the oven, stagger the arrangement of pans to allow room for air circulation as the cakes bake.
10.    Once out of the oven, immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans. Cool cakes in pans 15 min.; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
To avoid a mesh imprint on the surface of the cake (from the design in the cooling rack), cover rack with wax paper before turning out the cake.
11.     Spread Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting between cake layers and onto top of cake. Optional—     Add Chocolate “Happy Birthday” plaque and Caramel Roses.

Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting   Makes about 4 ½ cups, enough to cover the layers and top of a 3-layer cake or 36 cupcakes.
Prep: 5 min.  Total: 17 min
4 egg yolks
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter or margarine
1pkg. (7 oz.) BAKER'S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut (2-2/3 cups)
1½ cups chopped PLANTERS Pecans

1.     Beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 min. or until thickened (took me about 15 min.) and golden brown (personally, I think golden is the color you are looking for vs. a brown color), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. (In case  there might be any cooked egg present – just run the mixture through a medium mesh strainer at this point.)
"Golden" color of cooked sauce.
2.     Add coconut and nuts; mix well. Cool to desired spreading consistency. (I made mine ahead and chilled it in the refrigerator just until it was set so it would not seep out or the sides of the cake.)
This is what the finishing filling/frosting looks like.
To Make Chocolate “Happy Birthday” Plaque
Semi-sweet chocolate chips – about ½ cup
A couple of drops of canola oil
·      Microwave chocolate and oil in microwaveable bowl at 50% power for about 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min.
·      Spread out in a circle (or other desired shape) on top of waxed paper.
Allow spread chocolate to harden.
·      Let set (or chill in fridge) until hard).
·      Using a piping bag and decorator frosting, pipe “Happy Birthday” onto hardened plaque; transfer to top layer of frosted 3-layer cake and cover edges with Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting.
Beginning to add the lettering.



Caramel Rose made from 2 rolled
and layered caramels.

To Make a Caramel or Gumdrop Rose  
  • Sprinkle a cutting board and a rolling pin generously with sugar – this will help keep the candy from sticking as you roll it out.
  • Roll out caramel or gumdrop into an oval shape; continue to sprinkle and pat with sugar.
  • To form a flower--roll oval into a cone or bud shape flaring out the top edge; pinch the bottom to secure the layers. Optional: Add a 2nd layer if desired.
  • Leaves--roll out a caramel or a green gumdrop and use a paring knife or scissors to cut a leaf shape.
  • Arrange on cake remembering that uneven numbers are most pleasing to the eye (i.e. a cluster of three rosebuds).
Use a lot of sugar when rolling out the caramel to keep it from sticking to the board.
To form a rose, roll the elongated caramel, crimping the bottom & flaring the top.
To create caramel leave, shape rolled out caramel with your hands & use a knife or scissors to press or cut surface.
EASY TO PRINT COPY . . .
Original BAKER'S GERMAN'S Sweet Chocolate Cake   Make one 3-layer cake
Prep: 30 min.  Total: 2 hr (inc. cooling)
1 pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER'S GERMAN'S Sweet Chocolate
½ cup water
4 eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (If you don't have buttermilk, just add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk; let stand 10 min.)
Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting (recipe follows)

1.     Heat oven to 350°F.
2.     Cover bottoms of 3 (9”) round pans with waxed paper; spray sides with cooking spray.
3.     Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
4.     Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; set aside.
5.     Mix flour, baking soda and salt.
6.     Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy.
7.     Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition. (Start and end with the dry ingredients. When you begin with dry, the fat in the creamed mixture will start to coat the flour particles and you will avoid the development of gluten; end with dry to take up any available moisture in the batter. This is how I did it — added about 1/3 of the dry , then 1/2 of the liquid, the second third of the dry followed by the rest of the liquid, and then the final dry ingredients.)
8.     Ad egg whites; stir gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.
9.     Bake 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.
10.  Once out of the oven, immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans. Cool cakes in pans 15 min.; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
11.  Spread Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting between cake layers and onto top of cake. Optional—     Add Chocolate “Happy Birthday” plaque and Caramel Roses.

Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting   Makes about 4 ½ cups, enough to cover the layers and top of a 3-layer cake or 36 cupcakes.
Prep: 5 min.  Total: 17 min
4 egg yolks
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter or margarine
1pkg. (7 oz.) BAKER'S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut (2-2/3 cups)
1½ cups chopped PLANTERS Pecans

1.     Beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 min. or until thickened (took me about 15 min.) and golden brown (personally, I think golden is the color you are looking for vs. a brown color), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. (In case any there might be any cooked egg present – just run the mixture through a medium mesh strainer.)
2.     Add coconut and nuts; mix well. Cool to desired spreading consistency. (I made mine ahead and chilled it in the refrigerator so it was set and would not seep out or the sides of the cake.)

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