The Problem: Most German chocolate cake recipes are similar, if not identical, to the one on the German's Sweet Chocolate box. Our tasters found several shortcomings in this recipe. It produced a cake that was too sweet, with chocolate flavor that was too mild, and with a texture so listless that the filling and cake together formed a soggy, sweet mush. What's more, even the bakers in the test kitchen thought the recipe, which required separately whipped egg whites and using three baking pans (the cake has three layers), was too arduous.
The Goal: We wanted a cake that was less sweet and more chocolaty than the original, but we didn't want to sacrifice the overall blend of flavors and textures that makes German chocolate cake so appealing in the first place. We also wanted a cake that was easier to make, with a more streamlined technique than the original recipe allowed.
The Solution: The first order of business was to scale back the recipe by one-quarter, which allowed us to fit the batter into two cake pans, thereby producing a cake with four thinner layers rather than three thicker layers. After testing, we discovered that the texture of the cake actually improved when we used whole eggs instead of laboriously separating the eggs, beating the whites, and folding them into the batter. We increased chocolate flavor with a combination of cocoa powder and good-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate. By adjusting the level and proportions of the sugar (both brown and white) and butter in the cake and filling, as well as toasting the pecans, we finished the necessary adjustments to create a definitely easier-to-make cake, with better texture and flavor than the original.
Wednesday, January 17
My family and I loved this cake! I have never been a fan of German Chocolate Cake, but I am now with this recipe! It's from America's Test Kitchen, and they exist to test recipes, methods, equipment and products to get the best of the best (as a result, they're detailed). Here is the recipe, and below is their write-up about how and why they came up with it. There is a free video of the kitchen making the cake on the show.