German Chocolate Sheet Cake

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Yield: 9" x 13" cake, about 24 servings

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This version of an all-time favorite is quicker, easier (no need to separate eggs), and more chocolate-y than the original.

Did you know German Chocolate Cake has nothing to do with Germany? Sam German, an Englishman working for the Baker & Co. chocolate company in the U.S. back in 1852, formulated a new baking chocolate, milder and sweeter than the somewhat harsh, dark baking chocolate then available; this pre-dated the invention of milk chocolate in 1876. A Texas housewife submitted a recipe for coconut-pecan topped German Chocolate Cake to her local newspaper in 1957, and that's the first print record of this tasty confection.

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

star rating (9) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 9" x 13" cake, about 24 servings
Published: 01/18/2010



  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Instant ClearJel or cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons Instant ClearJel or cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup half & half or milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup, light or dark
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon pecan, butter-rum, or vanilla-butternut flavor, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted chopped pecans


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan; or line with parchment, and grease the parchment.

2) To make the cake: Add the boiling water to the cocoa a bit at time, stirring until well blended. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

3) Whisk the remaining dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and oil; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

4) Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and add the vanilla. Then the cocoa mixture in three additions, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

5) Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool, while you make the topping.

6) To make the topping: Whisk together the brown sugar, ClearJel or cornstarch, and salt until thoroughly combined.

7) Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan; stir in the milk or half and half, sugar mixture, and corn syrup.

8) Bring to a simmer and cook gently, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture thickens slightly, about 1 to 2 minutes.

9) Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla, flavor, coconut, and pecans.

10) Spread the topping onto the warm cake. Let rest at room temperature for about 1 hour, until the topping sets. Serve in squares.

Yield: 24 servings.


  • star rating 11/06/2014
  • Linda H Bateman from Louisiana
  • Made this cake 11/6/2014 easy to make and is a big hit !!!!!
  • star rating 08/18/2014
  • gto0814 from KAF Community
  • I made this as my BD cake. What a wonderful mouth feel, moist yet not wet, holds together when cut with a nice crumb and the topping was just right, sweet but not overly. I deviated from the recipe just a little using 70 grams Olive Oil and 79g Canola Oil as I don't stock Vegetable Oil. I also used fresh Coconut which I toasted and Walnuts instead of Pecans because that bag was already open. Thanks KAF you really know your stuff when it comes to dough.
  • star rating 08/29/2012
  • dandebaker from KAF Community
  • I just made this cake and while it was very moist it was heavier than I liked. It is definitely not the German chocolate cake I was expecting. The topping was very good and very similar to the traditional topping. I am not saying this was a bad recipe just not the flavor I was craving.
    Sorry this sheet cake didn't meet your texture expectations - Maybe a lighter layer cake version would do just that. Best wishes in your quest to find the German Chocolate Cake of your dreams. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF
  • star rating 12/04/2011
  • dmurray407 from KAF Community
  • This cake was very easy to make. The flavor and texture are absolutely perfect. The topping is really easy and so much more tasty than the stuff you get pre-made.
  • star rating 10/22/2011
  • Dawn DeMeo from KAF Community
  • Unbelievable! This cake was so good...I had three pieces. Normally I'm not into cake, so it's unusual for me to even finish one piece. I made this for my husband's 50th and it was a huge hit. Both cake lovers and non-cake lovers raved about it! It was incredibly moist and intensely chocolatey. The topping was divine. I didn't have any butter flavor or pecan flavor to add, but I don't think it could have made this cake any more delicious. Really I just can not say enough about this recipe!
  • star rating 10/19/2010
  • from
  • I love this recipe for two reasons: 1) it tastes delicious, and 2) I hate making layer cakes! Very good recipe!
  • star rating 02/24/2010
  • Emily from DC
  • The cake was easy to make and delicious, as was the topping. I made it on Wednesday night for a birthday party on Saturday -- the cake tasted great and held up well for the wait.
  • star rating 02/01/2010
  • Charlie from Del Rio TX
  • I only made the topping and used it on a diffrent cake mix. The topping was great. If you love german chocolate, you will love this topping.

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