This decadent triple-layer dessert takes its name from German's Sweet Chocolate, a product that's not German at all: the versatile baking chocolate was created by an American baker named Samuel German in 1852. The origins of the cake were detailed by Nick Malgieri in "American Beauty," an article in SAVEUR's December 2009 issue.
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 3⁄4 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 2 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
- 1 1⁄2 cups roughly chopped pecans
- 1 (7-oz.) package sweetened shredded coconut
- 4 oz. German's Sweet Chocolate, chopped
- 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 4 large egg whites
Combine 1 ½ cups sugar, ¾ cup butter, 1 ½ tsp. vanilla, 4 egg yolks, and evaporated milk in a 2-qt. pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer; cook until thick, 12 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a bowl; stir in pecans and coconut; chill frosting until firm.
Heat oven to 350° Grease three 9" round cake pans with butter; line bottoms with parchment circles. Grease parchment; set aside. Put chocolates into a small bowl; pour in ½ cup boiling water; let sit for 1 minute. Stir until smooth; set aside. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a standing mixer, beat 1 ¼ cups sugar and remaining butter until fluffy; add remaining egg yolks one at a time. Add chocolate mixture and remaining vanilla; beat until smooth. On low speed, alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk until just combined; set batter aside.
Meanwhile, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Add remaining sugar; whip to stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into batter; divide between pans and smooth batter. Bake until cakes are set, 25–30 minutes. Let cakes cool; frost the top of each cake and assemble, leaving the sides bare.