German Chocolate Cake

The combination of brown and white sugars in this recipe give the cake just the right level of caramel sweetness without going overboard. America's Test Kitchen's pastry chef Bridget Lancaster created a fool-proof German chocolate cake recipe that any sweet tooth will love. 

4 Large egg yolks
1 (12 oz) Can evaporated milk
2 cups Granulated sugar
6 tbsp Unsalted butter (cut into 6 piece)
1/4 cup Packed light brown sugar
1/8 tsp Salt
3 tsp Vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups Sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups Pecans (toasted and chopped)
4 oz Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (chopped fine)
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup Boiling water
2 cups All-purpose flour
3/4 tsp Baking soda
12 tbsp Unsalted butter (softened)
2/3 cup Packed light brown sugar
3/4 tsp Salt
4 Large eggs
3/4 cup Sour cream

For the filling: Whisk egg yolks in a medium saucepan, then gradually whisk in evaporated milk. Whisk in one cup granulated sugar, six tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until mixture is boiling, frothy, and slightly thickened (about six minutes).

Transfer mixture to bowl, whisk in two teaspoons vanilla, then stir in coconut. Let cool until just warm and then refrigerate until cool, at least two hours or up to three days. (Pecans are added later.)

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pans. Combine chocolate and cocoa in a bowl, then add boiling water, cover, and let sit for five minutes. Whisk chocolate mixture until smooth, then let it cool completely. Whisk flour and baking soda together in second bowl.

Using a stand mixer, beat 12 tablespoons butter, one cup granulated sugar, 2/3 cup brown sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about three minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add one teaspoon vanilla, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy (about 45 seconds). Reduce speed to low, add chocolate mixture, then increase speed to medium and beat until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl once (batter may look curdled).

Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture (in three separate parts), alternating with sour cream (in two parts) and scraping down the bowl as needed. Give batter final stir by hand (batter will be thick).

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops with rubber spatula. Gently tap pans on counter to settle batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes clean (about 30 minutes) switching and rotating pans halfway through baking.

Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discard parchment, and let cool completely on rack (about 2 hours). Note: Cake layers can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours or frozen for up to 1 month; defrost cakes at room temperature.

Using a long serrated knife, cut one horizontal line around sides of each layer. Then, following scored lines, cut each layer into two even layers. Stir toasted pecans into chilled filling.

Place one cake layer on a platter. Spread one cup of filling evenly over top, right to the edge of cake. Repeat with remaining cake layers, aligning cuts so layers are even and pressing lightly to adhere (leave sides unfrosted).

Serve and enjoy! Frosted cake can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours; bring to room temperature before serving.