Given the level of chocolate love in our house, it really surprises me that I haven’t posted a proper chocolate cake recipe in over 4 years. Fortunately, my husband was wanting a dessert for the Thanksgiving table (that wasn’t pie), I was looking for a showstopper cake recipe to post for the holidays, and we both remembered how much we love this inside-out German chocolate cake. In this variation of the classic German chocolate cake, the coconut-pecan frosting becomes a filling nestled between the cake layers and the outside is coated in chocolate ganache. Wow. Just writing that description makes me want to sneak the last slice of cake out the fridge before my husband and daughter realize it’s gone.
We have made this inside-out German chocolate cake many times since we discovered it several years ago and have streamlined some of the steps to simplify the recipe a little. The most notable change is using canned dulce de leche. The original recipe called for baking sweetened condensed milk in a water bath to caramelize it. However, we have found it so much easier to open a can of good dulce de leche instead. The other big change is increasing the amount of glaze from the original recipe. With the original measurements, we always found the amount of glaze to be not quite enough to cover the cake evenly. So, we increased the glaze ingredients by 50% because this is no time to get skimpy on the chocolate.
For the cake layers
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup boiling-hot water
For the filling
- 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
- 4 ounces coarsely chopped pecans (about 1 cup)
- 14-ounces can dulce de leche
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
For the glaze
- 3 3/4 sticks (30 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 15 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 4 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
For the cake layers
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare cake pans by buttering the inside of 3 (9-inch) round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with rounds of parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together whole milk, melted butter, whole egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and almond extract. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with a paddle attachment, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- On low speed, slowly beat the milk mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary. Then beat the mixture on high speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and beat in boiling-hot water until just combined (batter will be thin).
- Divide batter among cake pans (about 1 1/2 cups per pan) and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans and rotating them 180 degrees halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes total.
- Cool cake layers in pans on cooling racks for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove parchment paper and cool layers completely before assembling the cake.
For the filling
- Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
- Spread coconut in a large shallow baking pan and pecans in another. Bake pecans and coconut in oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 18 minutes. Remove pans from oven. Set aside.
- Pour the dulce de leche into a medium size microwave safe bowl. Warm the dulce de leche in the microwave for about 30 seconds until it is easy to stir. Stir in coconut, pecans, and vanilla.
For the glaze
- Melt butter in a 3-quart saucepan. Remove pan from heat and whisk in chocolate and corn syrup until smooth.
- Transfer 1 1/2 cups glaze to a bowl and chill, stirring occasionally, until thickened and spreadable, about 1 hour. Reserve remaining glaze at room temperature in pan.
- Put 1 cake layer on a 9-inch cardboard cake round set on a rack set over a baking pan (to catch excess glaze). Drop half of coconut filling by spoonfuls evenly over layer and gently spread with a wet spatula. Top with another cake layer and spread with remaining filling in same manner. Top with remaining cake layer.
- Spread chilled glaze evenly over top and side of cake. Heat reserved glaze in pan over low heat, stirring, until glossy and pourable, about 1 minute. Pour glaze evenly over top of cake, making sure it coats sides. Shake rack gently to smooth glaze.
- Chill cake until firm, about 1 hour. Transfer cake to a plate.
The last step of pouring the heated glaze over the cake is optional. You can skip this step by chilling all of the glaze and spreading all of it over the cake. Use a warm icing spatula at the end to get the glaze as smooth as possible.
Recipe adapted from Gourmet, March 2002.