German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Sauce

Despite the title you’ve just read, I’d like to talk about ricotta cheesecake for a minute. One of my favorite places to eat in New York is Becco, and that is mostly because of their ricotta cheesecake. When Quinn asked what I wanted for dessert on my recent birthday, I really wanted to try to duplicate it. After a quite thorough search of the web, my cookbooks, and the bookstore’s cookbooks, I never found a recipe that seemed quite right. So, we dove in and made one anyway. It was not good. At all.

That’s how we ended up with this German chocolate cake for my little birthday celebration. Quinn did most of the work on my behalf, but I couldn’t resist helping out. He whipped up the cake, and I made the sauce.

This kind of cake is one of my very favorites. Coconut and pecans are two of my favorite things, and to have them combined together on top of chocolate cake… Well, how can you go wrong? I’ll tell you how. Not everyone likes coconut and pecans. With some encouragement from my dear friend Tonya (thanks, by the way), I came up with a solution in the form of this recipe from Southern Living.

The coconut-pecan component is a sauce that can be ladled onto the cake when it’s served. So, in deference to the non-coconut-ers and non-pecan-ers, there were alternative toppings. Quinn made some kind of caramel sauce. Honestly, I wasn’t in the kitchen at the time, and I have no idea how he did that. I also made one of my stand-by sauces, a white chocolate-raspberry sauce that’s shown up on this little blog before.

The result? I got the cake I wanted for my birthday (if we’re not counting my initial quest for the ricotta cheesecake), and everyone else got something they liked, too.

By the way, if anyone has recommendations for a ricotta cheesecake recipe (preferably like the one at Becco), I would love to hear about them.

German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Sauce

Yield: 20 servings

Prep Time:25 minutes

Cook Time:35 minutes


For the cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces sweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1 & 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg

For the sauce:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 & 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9″x 13″ baking pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Place butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave at half-power in 30-second increments until butter has melted and chocolate melts when stirred. Stir until smooth.
  4. Combine sugar, water, and vanilla. Stir in chocolate mixture. Whisk in egg whites and egg.
  5. Add flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
  6. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
  7. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

To make the sauce:

  1. Place sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk. Add butter.
  2. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils. Continue cooking for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans, coconut, and vanilla. Serve warm over slices of cake.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living and MyRecipes.

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