German Chocolate Cake
Food Inspiration

Did You Know German Chocolate Cake Isn’t Actually German?

The decadent chocolate, coconut, and pecan delicacy known as German chocolate cake has been around for almost 65 years, and for most of those years, we just assumed it came from that country. So that’s why it’s called German chocolate cake.

The well-known dessert, however, isn’t even remotely German. Instead, it came from the nation that cherishes it the most: America. What makes it known as German chocolate cake? We learned.

German chocolate cake: what is it?

German chocolate cake is a type of layered chocolate cake, typically baked with buttermilk and two to three layers of sweet baking chocolate. A frosting composed of pecans, coconut, and evaporated milk is used to fill and top the cake.

Where Is the Origin of German Chocolate Cake?

The cake is labeled German, yet it wasn’t imported from that country. Instead, it began in 1957 in Dallas, Texas, however, like the cake, its history is far more extensive than that.

The history of German chocolate cake begins even earlier, in the 1850s, when a baker by the name of Samuel German developed a sweet baking chocolate. For Baker’s Chocolate, which isn’t called “Baker’s” because company creates chocolate for bakers, but rather because its creator was named James Baker, he created the new chocolate with a larger sugar content. German’s Sweet Chocolate was the brand name given to the chocolate by the manufacturer.

The Dallas Morning News published a recipe for “German’s Chocolate Cake” in 1957, which was nearly a century later. The cake was given the name German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake by Mrs. George Clay, a Dallas native who is credited with creating the recipe.

Once other publications started publishing the recipe, Baker’s Chocolate’s sales started to rise. It’s thought that the apostrophe “s” got misplaced somewhere along the line during all the different publishing of the original recipe. As a result, it was thought that the dessert was German in origin.

Evidently, the notion that German chocolate cake was a favorite among Germans spread so widely that even President Lyndon B. Johnson bought into it. According to The Dallas Morning News, he presented the dessert to German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard at a luncheon in 1963.

German’s Sweet Chocolate is still produced and offered by Baker’s Chocolate, which is currently owned by Kraft Heinz. However, many modern recipes for German chocolate cake exclude the use of sweet baking chocolate. While some recipes call solely for cocoa powder, others call for baking chocolate with a different level of sweetness than German chocolate, such as semi-sweet or unsweetened.

Look for recipes that incorporate both buttermilk and sweet baking chocolate, such as these, if you want to make a typical German chocolate cake like Mrs. Clay’s:

While chocolate icing over the cake’s sides was not part of the original German chocolate cake recipe, it is a widely employed technique today. However, those additions are entirely up to the baker (that’s you, not James Baker!) Some individuals additionally like to top their German chocolate cake with additional nuts.

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