Nouveau-German Chocolate Cake · GF (one 4 layer 8" cake)
To make an out of the ordinary German chocolate chocolate cake, you need a few out of the ordinary ingredients. Like roasted pecan oil and natural coconut flavor, which doesn’t taste like suntan lotion, and kinako (roasted soy flour).
You can replace the kinako and cornstarch with all purpose flour, but kinako’s roasted flavor highlights the pecans and adds a lot of depth to the cake while cornstarch keeps the nut-heavy batter from becoming super dense. Using all purpose flour works but you’ll have a denser, less flavorful cake. Many thanks to Shauna for turning me on to cornstarch for fluffiness!
Now for the good news: the cake batter will hold up for two days in the fridge, which means you don’t have to make and bake the cake all in one day.
I prefer caramel Swiss buttercream, where the caramel flavor just shines. But for those yet to get on the Swiss bandwagon, caramel German buttercream’s your gateway frosting. The caramel flavor is more subdued, but it has a fluffier less fatty texture which should appeal to those not too wild about Swiss.
German Chocolate Chocolate Cake
15 ounces coconut rum
5 ounces dark chocolate, I use a 72%
6 ounces cocoa powder (Dutch process)
4 ounces roasted soy flour (plain soy flour is not the same; substitute all purpose)
4 ounces cornstarch (you can substitute all purpose)
4 ounces pecans, toasted
4 ounces unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted
18 ounces sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 ounces pecan oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon natural coconut extract
13.5 ounces (1 can) unsweetened coconut milk
Preheat oven to 350° line four 8” cake pans with a parchment round, spray lightly with pan spray and set aside.
In a medium pot, heat the coconut rum until it’s screaming hot. Shut off the heat and whisk in the chocolate and cocoa, stirring until you have a thick paste.
Combine the kinako, cornstarch, toasted pecans and coconut in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a chunky cornmeal. Set aside.
With a hand or stand mixer, combine the sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and eggs. Whip on medium speed until the mixture has lightened considerably and increased in volume; about 8 minutes. Slowly drizzle in the pecan oil, followed by the vanilla and coconut extract.
Reduce speed to low and add the chocolate rum paste in three additions. Turn the speed back up to medium once it’s all been added and whip until homogenous. Reduce speed to medium low and dump the dry ingredients all at once, followed by the coconut milk. Mix until just combined. The batter will keep, refrigerated, for up to 48 hours. Or use immediately.
Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cakes have puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center still has a few crumbs stuck to it. Baking time will vary according to your oven.
Cool the cakes in their pans for 15 minutes, then invert to a cooling rack and set aside until completely cooled.
While the cakes are cooling, make up a batch of either the Swiss or German buttercream caramel buttercream. It will make a little more buttercream than you need, but when it comes to decorating a layer cake, it’s always better to have a little extra.
Fill the cakes with about 1 cup buttercream between each layer. Crumb coat the cake and refrigerate 30 minutes to set (check out my crumb coating tutorial for more details). Remove from the fridge and apply a final coat of buttercream.
Garnish with a drizzle of the remaining caramel, fresh coconut shavings and pecan halves.
For more information on how to store cakes, see this post from the Kitchn.
Update: I’ve been told La Tourangelle has discontinued their roasted pecan oil. Most online stores sell virgin pecan oil, which has a neutral flavor. Fortunately, a small oil shop in California sells toasted pecan oil, which has a rich and nutty taste. Visit their shop here to order online.
Mar 15, 2012 · 1:52 PM
Now that is one sexy cake! I so want it now!
· Priscilla M · www.redshallotkitchen.com
Mar 15, 2012 · 3:10 PM
WOW! What an absolutely GORGEOUS cake! You are such an artist! And I can tell that it tastes as good as it looks. Great post!
· Mary Ellen @ Pâte à Chew · www.pateachew.com
Mar 15, 2012 · 5:31 PM
I could really go for this cake – looks insanely delicious
Choc Chip Uru
· Choc Chip Uru · gobakeyourself.wordpress.com
Mar 15, 2012 · 5:57 PM
@Priscilla, it is a little naughty with that caramel dripping everywhere…
@Mary Ellen, thank you so much!
@Choc Chip Uru, sexy and insane! This cake is extreme.
Mar 15, 2012 · 7:34 PM
I’m going to make this tomorrow for my mom’s birthday! What would be the best substitute for the roasted soy flour that’s still GF? Sweet rice?
· Linds · thewholesomehome.com
Mar 16, 2012 · 1:45 AM
What an awesome cake. It looks absolutely delicious!
· Spencer · www.moolollybar.com.au/
Mar 16, 2012 · 3:16 AM
This cake looks to die for and I’m so happy it’s a GF recipe. I’m off to find all of the ingredients now!
· Linds Frank · www.greetingsfromtheamericangirl.com
Mar 16, 2012 · 9:26 AM
This is a thing of beauty!
· heather · www.sprinklebakes.com
Mar 16, 2012 · 10:40 AM
This looks absolutely incredible. You are the dessert queen!
· thelittleloaf · thelittleloaf.wordpress.com
Mar 16, 2012 · 11:06 AM
@Linds, I don’t have any good recommendations for you, I’m afraid. When working on weening this recipe off of gluten, I ran through every substitution in the book and the kinako/cornstarch blend was the only one that worked for me. The recipe’s kind of a wacky balance of ingredients that doesn’t do well with variation.
@Spencer, thank you kindly.
@Sam, you’re awesome. Thanks, as always, for your undying support.
@Linds Frank, happy hunting!
@heather, coming from you that means the world! <3
@thelittleloaf, aw, thank you.
Mar 16, 2012 · 11:52 AM
My favorite cake…certainly revisited in a BIG way. Just gorgeous!
· Barbara | Creative Culinary · www.creative-culinary.com
Mar 16, 2012 · 7:30 PM
@Barbara, your favorite?! So happy you approve!
Mar 16, 2012 · 7:56 PM
what presentation! Gorgeous frosting and decorating!
· Michelle · amourbeurre.blogspot.com
Mar 16, 2012 · 8:34 PM
OMG this is so damn good, you’ve just pushed me for a fridge dive!
· Bugarska Leto · www.paradisotravel.com/v2/letovanje-2012/bugarska
Mar 17, 2012 · 8:27 AM
Wickedly tempting! I must have this in my life. Congrats on Top 9!
· Sandra · www.thesweetsensations.com
Mar 17, 2012 · 1:47 PM
@Michelle, thank you!
@Bugarska, I can’t be held responsible for any weight gain…
@Sandra, thanks so much! An amusing surprise for St. Patrick’s Day, haha.
Mar 17, 2012 · 5:17 PM
Fantastic looking cake! I’m loving the evenness between the layers and the caramel..Zoikes!
· Gerry @ Foodness Gracious · www.foodnessgracious.com
Mar 18, 2012 · 9:04 PM
@Gerry, thank you! It definitely has taken a lot of practice. Can you tell I used to do wedding cakes?
Mar 19, 2012 · 9:49 PM
So, I made the cake and my German chocolate cake loving mother couldn’t stop smiling. She oooh’d an ahhhh’d the whole time she was eating it!
I did do the Kinako substitution- I used 1.5 oz sweet rice flour, 1.5 white rice flour and 1 oz Pamela’s baking pancake mix.
It was DELICIOUS! Nice and coconutty and while the caramel swiss buttercream was rich, it all worked beautifully. The cake was delicious on it’s own though, even with the subs!
Thanks for such a beautiful remix! My mom was thrilled!
· Linds · thewholesomehome.com
Mar 20, 2012 · 6:42 PM
@Linds, I am so, so thrilled to hear it!! And especially relieved to know a die-hard German chocolate fan loved it too. Thanks for sharing your substitutions, too. Glad to know you enjoyed it!!
@Mary, you can use a pretty wide variety of liquors (I’ve done it with pecan liquor, but that’s hard to find). If you’re trying to avoid booze, you can substitute coffee or tea. The cake will still work on a technical level, but without the extra coconutty dimension.
Mar 23, 2012 · 2:20 PM
Wow, this is so pretty and perfect!! Delish!
· Melissa Klotz · www.nowyourecook.in
Mar 24, 2012 · 1:02 PM
@Melissa, thanks so much!
Mar 28, 2012 · 6:53 PM
Love this cake! Would it be ok to substitute the rum with coconut black tea or is that too weird…? Also, I’m dividing the recipe in half. Did you mean 3 large eggs or 3 regular sized eggs? Thanks!
· amrita · www.thesweetart.com
Mar 29, 2012 · 11:00 AM
@amrita, absolutely, I think the tea would work great, especially since it has a coconut hit. Sounds rad! My eggs are prolly more along the regular size, they’re from a local farmer so definitely not as big as a supermarket large. Good luck with the cake!
Mar 31, 2012 · 1:40 PM
My mom and I are die-hard german chocolate cake fans so I’m going to give this a try for her birthday!
Have you heard of a dairy free version of the swiss buttercream frosting? (Maybe I’ll make two cakes, then I can make mine the real way and she can have the dairy free version!)
Mar 31, 2012 · 2:07 PM
@Heather, is your mom lactose intolerant? You can make the Swiss buttercream with goat butter, which has different enzymes and is okay for people who have trouble with cow’s milk products. Just omit the salt in the recipe, goat’s butter is usually salted. Other than that, I don’t know. I’ve never tried making it with shortening or anything like that… What do you think?
Apr 01, 2012 · 10:17 AM
@Heather, getting ahold of the goat butter should be the only tricky part! I’ve made it before a few times for a lactose intolerant friend (who was ALSO gf). I’m so happy I have a cake here your mom can have! Like I said, just keep an eye on the salt since most goat butters are salted.
Apr 10, 2012 · 5:09 PM
This cake looks fantastic! How many days would it last safely if iced. Might have to make this for my mum :O) X
· Maria · mariaskitchennet.tumblr.com
Apr 11, 2012 · 8:46 PM
@Maria, it will keep for about 3 days at room temperature. To store longer, refrigerate until the buttercream is firm, cover completely in plastic wrap, then return it to the fridge. Maybe a week like that? Bring to room temperature before eating.
@LRyan, unfortunately plain soy flour will not work! Soy flour is defatted and Kinako (roasted soy flour) is full fat, so it makes a huge difference in flavor. I will update the recipe so no one else will have to wonder the same thing! If you don’t care about GF, you can use all purpose flour.
Other nut oils like hazelnut will work too, but then you miss out on the incredible pecan flavor inside the cake itself that makes this “German” chocolate so unique. Without the pecan oil, you’ll say, “huh, that cake was alright, I guess” but with the pecan oil, you’ll do back flips. You can buy pecan oil on Amazon and have it delivered in just a few days.
Apr 15, 2012 · 12:22 PM
Hi Abby! All of my ounce measurements are for weight, never volume. Technically oz always refers to weight unless written “fl oz” or “fluid ounces” (though that’s a cookbook convention and bloggers don’t always stick to that, which can make it confusing… .
Apr 27, 2012 · 5:25 PM
@single meals, I hope you do! Snap a pic for me.
Apr 29, 2012 · 11:54 AM
I hate to sound stupid but, can i use virgin pecan oil instead of roasted? There seems to be a world shortage of “La Tourangelle” roasted pecan oil and I can’t find another brand. I want that great pecan flavor but if you think it is better just to use another roasted oil from them, that is what I’ll do.
Apr 29, 2012 · 4:26 PM
@LRyan, omg, that’s crazy!! You can use virgin pecan oil if you can find it. I will try and find out if the brand I use at work (not La Tourangelle) is available online somewhere, or if it’s just something sold at wholesale to restaurants… In the meantime, I would definitely say using hazelnut or walnut oil instead would be better than a totally neutral oil.
What a shame they discontinued it, thanks for sharing the results of your detective work.
Apr 30, 2012 · 4:38 PM
Stella, I called a bunch of places online to check if they had it before I placed my order and Made in California is one of them that shows it, but does not have any in stock. La Tourangelle says they discontinued it last year. I’ll just wait to see what brand you use or switch the recipe to walnut instead of pecan so I still have the roasted element and walnut in the batter.
Apr 30, 2012 · 10:53 PM
@LRyan, this is blowing my mind. Sorry to point you down a path you’ve already visited. I wonder if some of the local stores have just had that pecan oil sitting around on the shelves this whole time…wow.
In the meantime, I’m waiting to hear back from my “nut” guy. I know that when it comes to hazelnuts and hazelnut oil, he goes through a place called Freddy Guys in Oregon, but I’m not sure about the pecans. He sells it to me in a mason jar. Anyhow, I will let you know as soon as I find out! I usually see him on the weekends.
In the meantime, I made a test batch with of the cake with hazelnut oil today. It’s pleasantly nutty, if not as pecan-y.
May 03, 2012 · 9:38 AM
@LRyan, you’re so welcome! When I ordered mine there was a problem with the checkout and it didn’t add shipping, but they called me straight away to get it ironed out. Now I really hope you like the cake, after all the trouble you’ve been through!
May 12, 2012 · 12:37 PM
@Katie, coconut oil works nicely, but it would need to be melted first. Since coconut oil has a neutral flavor, it’ll only amp up the coconut flavor insomuch as it minimizes the pecan flavor by replacing the pecan oil.
As a side note, I’ve made this recipe with hazelnut oil and with a neutral peanut oil, and it’s still really nice, just not as pecan-y.
May 24, 2012 · 3:34 PM
@LizLopez, Yup! Be careful not to conflate weight with volume: a cup of flour weighs more like 4 1/2 ounces. Plus, there are 8 ounces of ground coconut/pecan acting as dry ingredients in the mix too, so altogether there’s a pound of dry ingredients holding the batter together.
The recipe yields close to 85 ounces of batter, which gives over 20 ounces per 8” layer. You can, by all means, bake the cake off in three 8” layers if you’d like them to be thicker. Click here to see a 3 layer version a reader posted to my facebook page. Hope that helps!
Jun 17, 2012 · 11:42 PM
I finally made this cake and German buttercream frosting completely gluten free and dairy free. It was amazing! The goat butter worked perfectly. I cut the frosting recipe in half because the goat butter was over $8 for 8 oz. I wouldn’t do that again. Splurge and make the full recipe. Thank you for all the tips!
Jun 18, 2012 · 10:31 AM
@Heather, I am so thrilled to hear it all worked out for you, hurray!! And yeah, goat butter is insanely expensive. I did buy a bunch on sale once, stashed it in my freezer, haha.
Oct 25, 2012 · 6:48 PM
Hi Mickey! Thanks so much, I love hearing that you’ve worked your way through quite a few recipes. Yay! I’ll have to admit about the coconut pictured, I’m spoiled. Our local coop sells freshly shaved coconut, so I didn’t have to fuss with it myself. If you talk to the produce folks at your local Kroger/grocery, they can probably order coconut for you if it’s important to you. But your cake won’t be any less delicious without it.
Jan 25, 2013 · 12:29 AM
Hello there, I just had to message you and tell you that i’ve made the Nouveau-German Chocolate Cake with swiss/caramel butter cream. I am so proud right now. It has turned out perfectly and each component of the icing tasted divine as i was making it. I was suprised any made it to layer and decorate the cake. Thankyou for sharing these recipes. I will find out tonight how it all tastes and how our guests and the birthday boy likes it. Thankyou from a proud home cook.
Jan 25, 2013 · 8:54 PM
Hi Stella, I’m one of Undine’s guests and have to say. This cake was amazing! I follow you on twitter but hadn’t found the time to check out your blog. You are now on my “to read” list. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Undine did a brilliant job of it. Delicious!
· Jen · somethingiwhippedup.blogspot.com
Jan 26, 2013 · 3:16 PM
Hi Undine! Oh, hurray! I know this cake is a lot of work, so I’m thrilled to hear it turned out so well for you. Thanks for taking the time to let me know.
Hi Jen! What a small world; I know I’m the same way, I definitely have not checked out all the blogs of the people I follow on twitter. Funny, isn’t it? Thanks for swinging by to report on Undine’s cake!
Feb 08, 2013 · 1:33 AM
Hi Stella! I am anxious to try this recipe, but I do not know where to find roasted pecan oil(searched online, even called Whole Foods). Do you think incorporating pecan extract and regular pecan oil will work as substitutes, or at least be close to the flavor we’re looking for? Thank you so much..
By the way, your blog is awesome and I am thrilled that I found you because your recipes are exactly what I’ve been looking for. The few recipes I’ve tried have turned out successful and most importantly delicious(to my surprise because some other sources were just subpar) I just wish I found you sooner..
Feb 08, 2013 · 7:20 AM
Hi Marilyn! I know, I’ve been so frustrated to hear La Tourangelle has discontinued their roasted pecan oil! I was special ordering a different roasted pecan oil from a small shop in California, but recently they too have discontinued it! I’ve never used pecan extract, so I can’t say how its flavor profile would match, but you could do a “twist” by using roasted hazelnut or walnut oil, both of which are much easier to come by.
If you do go the pecan extract route, I would say to use a neutral flavored oil and add in the pecan extract to taste. You’ll have to let me know how it turns out!
Feb 12, 2013 · 7:10 PM
Hi Rob! Check out the comment right above this one for more details; the company that used to make the pecan oil has gone out of business since I posted this recipe, so for the time being it looks like there is no roasted pecan oil out there!
Feb 28, 2013 · 10:21 PM
You totally rocked my world with this cake!! Incredible work of art. LOVE IT!
· Margie · unbindthemind.wordpress.com
Mar 01, 2013 · 10:55 PM
Hi Margie, thank you so much. I’d like to think it tastes better than it looks!
Mar 02, 2013 · 1:02 AM
Well, I made this cake sans pecan oil and pecan extract, but I did use roasted walnut oil and regular soy flour. So I basically made this my version of whatever I could find! Although it tasted really good, I wasnt completely satisfied because it wasnt the bravetart’s version. I’ve never tasted your creation coz I live in Chicago (would love to one of these days)but I can imagine it being superb and excellent (are redundancies allowed here?!..yess) So I served this at a bday party with alternating layers of regular chocolate cake, a combo of german bc as filling and covered it with caramel sbc. everybody loved it! Thank you so much for making life sweeter! I love the milk choc. bc, btw! It is heavenly.. cant wait to try your other recipes
Mar 02, 2013 · 9:57 AM
Hi Marilyn! I’m so glad you liked it and it was a hit at the party, even with the changes. The walnut oil makes a good swap, hazelnut oil too if you ever see it. Mil chocolate buttercream is never, ever a bad choice.
For future reference (or other recipes of mine you might try), roasted soy flour isn’t just soy flour, roasted. The roasted kind (kinako) is a full fat product, like a nut flour. It has a sweet, rich, nutty flavor much like toasted almond flour would, or something like that. Plain soy flour is defatted before roasting, to make it more like a “wheat” flour (low fat content). This makes it slightly bitter, and far less rich and nutty. If you’ve got a chance to hit up a Japanese market in town (and, boy, does Chicago have some great ones!), keep an eye out for kinako and give it a taste. You’ll be blown away!
Mar 22, 2013 · 2:43 PM
Hi everyone, I just made a variation of this cake for my brothers birthday and thought I’d share my experience. My brother has Celiacs disease so I was excited to find such a well-researched gluten-free cake recipe.
Because my family has traditionally made German Chocolate cake with walnuts, as well as the lack of roasted pecan oil on the market, I decided to do a walnut variation on this recipe. I substituted walnuts for pecans and used La Tourangelle roasted walnut oil which I found at my local Whole Foods. I opted for the German buttercream recipe with the caramel addition which in my mind really brought the whole cake together. Lastly, I used a spiced rum in place of coconut rum which gave it nice punch but note that most coconut rums have a lower alcohol content than typical 80-proof rum. If I make it again I’ll use less rum or opt for the coconut rum called for in the recipe.
Overall the cake turned out wonderful, definitely one of the best gluten-free cakes I’ve had. Most notable was the excellent texture that was achieved by blending together the coconut and walnuts.. combined with the roasted soybean flour the flavor was superb and the cornstarch smoothed it out enough so you knew you were still eating a cake.
I extend my gratitude to the author for posting this recipe, it will certainly be revisited many times! Also, the walnut variation tasted great, I highly recommend people try it. Here’s a link to a photo on my flickr account if you want to see my interpretation, I decorated it a little different.
Mar 23, 2013 · 5:13 PM
Hi Sparky! Thanks so much for the detailed review of your experience with the walnut version of this cake! With the disappearance of the roasted pecan oil, it’s something I’m sure many people will be glad to know is an option.
I’d never thought about using spiced rum, that could be a great variation for Christmas time. So glad you posted a photo too, it looks terrific, bravo, bravo!
May 18, 2013 · 3:02 AM
Hi Stella! Huge fan/avid devourer of your recipes.
I’ve made this great cake a few times now, always to rave reviews Here's what it looked like one of those times (not nearly as pretty as yours, but it was gone in no time just the same).
Both times I’ve used the toasted pecan oil from The Olive Oil Pantry which has been great, but it looks like they’re the second to discontinue it! All is not lost though, as La Tourangelle seems to have it up again!
I’ll be making it again soon and I’m curious to see the difference, if any, between the oils; I’ll be sure to post my thoughts here afterward.
(apologies if these links turn out messed up; the preview doesn’t show the links working but I’m sort of hoping they will anyway)
May 18, 2013 · 10:14 PM
Hi Matt! Thanks so much for the update!! I had no idea that La Tourangelle had started making toasted pecan oil again, this is amazing news! I was so sad when the Olive Oil Pantry discontinued their toasted oil. Sorry the preview didn’t show the links, I’ve got it all ironed out now though.
Also: look at that view! Wherever you are making this cake, that scenery certainly doesn’t hurt things!
Sep 18, 2013 · 7:24 AM
Hi Stella, after drooling over this recipe for a few months, I’m finally gearing up to actually make it! Given the difficulty of finding roasted pecan oil in Australia, I’m considering substituting it with roasted walnut oil and making the cake with walnuts instead. Would this have a noticeable effect on the moistness, crumb and structure of the cake? If so, how detrimental would it be to the taste if I just made it with roasted walnut oil and pecans?
Thanks so much!
Sep 18, 2013 · 6:13 PM
Hi Dani! You could absolutely make this cake with roasted walnut oil! Or whatever roasted nut oil you’re able to find. Keep the pecans if you like, or if you’d like to use walnuts instead, go for it! It won’t alter anything about the cake but the flavor profile, but if you like walnuts then that won’t be a problem. Hope you like it!
Oct 17, 2013 · 10:57 PM
Hi dani! I prefer to used Dutched cocoa in this one, hope that helps!
Nov 27, 2013 · 8:51 PM
I was under the impression that a recipe with natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch) (acidic) would call for baking soda (alkali) to make cake rise. Would you mind sharing your thoughts and experience on this subject? Also, if you don’t mind me asking, what brand of cocoa powder and chocolate do you prefer for baking?
Nov 27, 2013 · 9:40 PM
Hi Oksana! A good question, and this one gets chalked up to my lack of specificity. I use Dutch cocoa for this cake (I use it for just about everything), and I will go back and edit the recipe right now because it’s crazy that I didn’t specify that!
I really like Valhrona, but as far as grocery store brands go I really like Droste. If you can plan ahead, Penzey’s (mail order) cocoa is great- Dutch or natural. As far as the leavening agents go, the blend given in any recipe has to take into account the overall pH of the batter, rather than the acidity of the cocoa alone. Sometimes, the addition of extra soda can improve the color if nothing else.
Nov 28, 2013 · 5:58 AM
Just dropping by to thank you for answering all my questions. I scaled the recipe down to a three-layer cake and brought it in to work today – to rave reviews! I couldn’t get a good photo before the cake was demolished so unfortunately you have to settle for a crappy night time camera shot https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc1/q74/s720×720/578132_10151902263412949_47654128_n.jpg
I couldn’t get fresh coconut and I didn’t have enough pretty whole pecans to really pimp it up, but really, I don’t think anyone can go wrong with oodles of dripping caramel Nothing on your work of art, but I was pretty happy with it regardless.
Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe, it’s beautifully fudgey and the coconut kick is just out of this world! I might make a sneaky single layer for myself this weekend
Nov 28, 2013 · 12:39 PM
Hi dani! So glad I could help. And yeah: so long as you pour enough caramel over just about anything, it’s gonna look killer, haha. I’m thrilled you liked the cake, and really appreciate you coming back by to let me know about your success. Hurray!