German Chocolate Cake- Classic, Vintage, Kitschy or Just Plain Delicious?

The photo is not great; we'd already eaten a quarter of Anja's birthday cake.  But the cake was so good that I had to get the recipe down before I forgot where I found it. 

According to Wikipedia, the german chocolate cake that was so popular when I was growing up was actually invented in 1957 by a Texas woman using the German's brand of sweet chocolate. Evidently, sales of Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate skyrocketed after they printed the cake recipe on the back of the package. 

When I was a kid, my Gammy, dad and sister, Natalie all chose this cake for their birthday cakes, meaning we had it three times a year as I was growing up.  I chose angel food cake for my birthday cake, with strawberries and cream, thus we only had it once a year. My mom made all the birthday cakes, with the exception of my little sister's cake; a woman in the neighborhood who had a secret recipe for a fabulous sour cream chocolate cake made hers. From what I can remember, my mom made her own cake, whatever she was in the mood for, I suppose. She made every birthday special and we were all very lucky to have her.  A good mama is priceless. 

My mom was an excellent baker and cook, and she used the recipe that was on the back of the Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate package to make her german chocolate cake. The recipe for the original cake is no longer on the package, although there is a similar (but simpler) one for cupcakes or a sheetcake. When baking, simpler doesn't usually mean better, so I decided to find the original recipe. It took me a bit of time figuring out the original recipe, but I'm so glad I found it, it was so good. 

The cake has a mild chocolate flavor; it's not too sweet and has a very tender, light crumb. The cake balances out the rich coconut/pecan frosting that is caramelized as you cook it.  It was the first time I'd ever made it, and I'm so glad Anja asked for it as it was wonderful.  But I still haven't learned the best lesson my mom tried to teach me about baking; bake in the morning, as it always takes so much longer than you think it will. This is especially true when you have to track down a recipe you thought would be easy to find.  Note to self, have recipe and ingredients on hand the day before I plan to bake and start baking before noon! When will I ever learn?

German Chocolate Cake

Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting

1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar (300 grams)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter 
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
7 oz Bakers Angel Flake sweetened coconut 
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts

Stir milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks and vanilla in a large saucepan. Stirring constantly, cook on medium heat for about 12 minutes, or until mixture is thickened and golden brown. Remove from heat, let cool a bit and then stir in  coconut and nuts. If someone doesn't like nuts, you can sprinkle the nuts on half the cake, like I did in the photo. This cake is even better the next day, so don't be afraid to make it a day early.