Inside Out German Chocolate Cake
I feel like every time I turn around, I’m baking a cake that is even more decadent and sinful than the last. I really thought that after the cappuccino fudge cheesecake that there was nothing left for me to bake that could even come close to topping my “oooooooooohhhhhhh!!!” meter. I was wrong…
To give you a bit of some background story, for some reason I’ve been endearingly termed the “Black Widow” of my cubicle quad. We don’t usually see a lot of turnover on my team, but we’ve lost at least 3 people in less than 2 years and they just all happened to have been sitting in the cube next to mine. I figure it’s just a bad stretch, but since my friend Vince was going to be my next victim, er, cubiclemate very soon, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try and start off on the right foot. I mean, all good things start with a good beginning right?
So since his birthday was coming up around the corner and since Vince HATES having a big to do done about his birthday, what better way to welcome him into the quad then by baking him a ridiculous cake adorned with flowers? I don’t know about you, but it was a smashing idea that was a win/win! I found a recipe that I had been meaning to try out for ages and set to work…
German chocolate cake has always been a favorite of mine because it’s all about the chocolate and not as much about the cake. This is an instance where I feel like the cake is merely the conduit for the chocolate, not the other way around. The chocolate here stands out as if to say, “Hey buddy, I’m the belle of this ball, k?” What I thought was equally interesting about this cake was that it was an inside out cake…meaning the cake served as the outermost layers while the inside layers was actually a filling made of dulce de leche mixed with pecans and coconuts. Wait, hold up. Dulce de leche? What’s that you ask? That’s the same question I asked myself finally when I started fooling around here. I mean, I’ve heard of it before and I always equated it with some sort of caramel type thing, but I couldn’t have been more wrong or have been missing out more…
Dulce de leche is very similar to caramel only instead of being made with caramelized sugar suspended in butter, this is sweetened or condensed milk that’s been gently cooked and loved until the milk sugars caramelize and make something so utterly amazing that I almost kicked myself for not having tried this sooner. Seriously, as it was, I was hard pressed to leave the dulce de leche alone enough to mix it into the coconut and pecans to make the filling. I somehow managed to muster up some herculean restraint and kept myself from pouring out some for quality control purposes and managed to make the cake with all, er most, of the dulce de leche intact.
So what do you get when you mix german chocolate cake, caramel of the gods, sprinkled with pecans and coconut, and then enrobed with some dark chocolate glaze? A little bit of heaven!
Inside Out German Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Gourmet | March 2000
**Liz note: I doubled the cake layer and filling portions below based on some suggestions and the cake I ended up with was pretty mammoth. Not that anyone complained while they were licking their fingers.
For cake layers
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 whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup boiling-hot water
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
4 ounces coarsely chopped pecans (1 cup)
14-ounces can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
10 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
Special equipment: 3 – 9 inch round cake pans (although I recommend 8 inch round pans for thicker cake layers)
Start by getting the dulce de leche started. The original recipe calls for cooking the condensed milk in a shallow pan in the oven, but I researched and found an easier way, but you have to follow the instructions precisely or else you’ll be cleaning caramel off of your ceiling. In a large, preferably tall heavy bottomed pot, place your condensed milk can(s). Fill with water to cover the cans by at least 6 inches. It’s important that there is always enough water to cover the tops of the cans! Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer for 2 hours. Remove can and allow to cool on the countertop until cool enough to handle.
While the dulce de leche is simmering begin making cake layers and glaze. To make the glaze, melt butter in a 3 quart saucepan. Remove from heat and add chocolate and corn syrup, whisking until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and shiny. Reserve 1 cup of glaze in a bowl to chill in the fridge for 1 hour until thickened and spreadable. Let remaining glaze cool in pan to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with racks in upper and lower third positions in oven. Prep your cake pans with butter or oil and line bottoms of pans with a round of parchment paper. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, whisk milk, butter, egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and almond extract until just combined. Beat egg mixture into flour mixture with electric mixer on low speed, then beat on high speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and beat in water until just combined. Don’t worry if batter looks thin. Divide batter equally among prepared cake pans. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching pans and rotating 180 degrees after about 10 minutes. Bake until tester comes out clean, about another 10-15 minutes (total bake time will be 20-25 minutes).
Cool layers in pan on racks for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges and invert layers onto racks. Remove parchment rounds and cool layers upside down.
Reduce heat in oven to 325 degrees. Spread coconut in a large shallow baking pan and pecans in another. Bake pecans in upper third of oven and coconut in lower third, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 18 minutes. Remove pans from oven.
Open your can(s) of dulce de leche and stir in coconut, pecans, and vanilla. Cover with foil and keep warm.
To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer on a rack set over a baking pan. Drop half of the coconut mixture by spoonfuls evenly over the cake layer and gently spread with a wet spatula (if you have an offset spatula, it will really help). Make sure to spread the coconut filling to the edge of the cake layer. Top with another cake layer and repeat process with remaining filling. Top with remaining cake layer and spread chilled glaze evenly over top and sides of cake. Heat remaining glaze in pan over low heat, stirring, until glaze is glossy and pourable, about 1 minute. Pour glaze evenly over to 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.
Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
For easier handling when assembling cake, place bottom layer on a cardboard round or the removable bottom of a tart or cake pan.