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Is German Chocolate Cake Really German?


Original Recipe for German Chocolate Cake


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It 's Not German ......
But it has an interesting history, with some German influence, without too many degrees of separation,

 A recipe for "German's Chocolate Cake" first appeared in a Dallas, Texas newspaper in 1957.That it was sent in by a Dallas homemaker is all we know.....




According to Patricia Riso, a spokeswomen for Kraft foods, It used a brand of chocolate bar called "German's" which had been developed in 1852, by an English Confectioner named Sam German, who was employed by Baker's Chocolate Company.

The cake had an immediate and enthusiastic response, and requests about where to find the German's chocolate bar were so numerous that General Foods (who owned Baker's Chocolate) decided to send pictures of the cake to newspapers all around the country.Everywhere the recipe had the same response and the sales for German's Chocolate exploded so they could make this cake!


Now the cake is a regular item in bakeries across the country, pre made mixes is on the grocery shelves also. It was my favorite cake when I was growing up and I requested it for my birthday every year.

The cake most likely didn't originate from this Dallas housewife. Buttermilk chocolate cakes have been popular in Texas and the Southern part of the United States for more than a century. Pecans that are used in the filling are plentiful in the area also,

So What is a German Chocolate Cake?

Originally it was 3 Layers of buttermilk cake flavored with melted German's chocolate, and sandwiched with a cocoanut -pecan filling rich with eggs and evaporated milk. Sometimes the cake is frosted and sometimes not. It can be garnished with toasted pecan halves and maraschino cherries.

Why Buttermilk in a Cake?
Buttermilk gives a nice tang to a cake or any dough , and the acid tenderizes the flour.
You can make your own buttermilk if you don't have any by adding a teaspoon of vinegar to a cup of milk.

So How is "German's Chocolate" Different?

German chocolate was one of the chocolate styles developed because up until then a bar of chocolate was unsweetened and very bitter. Chocolatiers were looking for a bar that would be fun to eat by itself or make be wonderfully sweet and rich in a cake or pastry. So it is a sweeter and lighter chocolate.

German's chocolate is similar to a milk chocolate and sweeter than regular baking chocolate.

Before the industrial revolution, chocolate was roasted and ground and made into a drink.
Through different methods of fine grinding and pressing, they were able to squeeze out the cocoa butter and make a solid chocolate bar. When treated with alkali much of the bitterness would be removed. Also through a process of fine grinding and turning called conching the chocolate emulsified and developed a smooth not gritty texture.

Milk Chocolate was developed by a Swiss man Daniel Peter to make a bar that was delicious to eat all on it's own. Sort of like a cup of hot cocoa in a bar form. The bar didn't keep well and would mildew.

Henri Nestlé

A German by the name of Henri Nestlé who developed a formula for babies that couldn't tolerate breast milk and is credited with the development of evaporated milk helped Daniel Peter take the water out of the milk so that the chocolate bar wouldn't spoil.

The German chocolate cake is influenced also with the German ingenuity using Mr. Nestle's Evaporated milk in the filling recipe.



A little background when you pick up a
German's Chocolate Bar for this cake.

As you go to make your authentic German Chocolate Cake and pick up a bar of German's Chocolate you may want to know some interesting history behind this company. It is a great story of how immigrants to the United States worked hard to develop a better product.

In 1765 a factory was built on the Neponset River in Dorchester, Massachusetts for Irish Chocolatier John Hannon. John was penniless but made a deal with Dr. James Baker to fund him.
At the time making chocolate was only made in Europe. Hannon saw the demand and convinced Dr. Baker that starting a chocolate factory in the new colony of America would be a hit.

The old Baker's Chocolate Mill on the Neponset River in Dorchester, Massachusetts


Courtesy of

The mill was set up and John Hannon made "Hannon's Best Chocolate" for the next 15 years.

However then John Hannon took a trip to the West Indies probably in search of chocolate and and never returned.

The factory was later sold to Dr. James Baker and the name was changed to The
Baker Chocolate Comapany. .

Courtesy of


Dr. James Baker

After the Boston Tea Party, Baker's chocolate played a unique role.

The new colonists scraped the chocolate into hot water for a hot chocolate drink,

they were looking for a replacement for their afternoon cup of tea.

This poster is from Allposters

Cocoa was added to their line of products

This was a 1919 Ad for the company.


The Baker's German's Sweet chocolate bar was the forerunner of
Milk Chocolate. Samuel German made this a little sweeter and was
popular for eating and baking pastries. It was so popular that they named the bar after him.

The Logo of Baker's Chocolate
A tie between Germany
and German Chocolate Cake.

The Best Business Decision made by the company according to Henry Pierce who was
running the Baker's chocolate company was adding this trademark to their logo......

The Schokoladenmädchen by Swiss artist Jean-Étienne Liotard ,

The Baker's Chocolate Company adopted in their logo a lady serving a chocolate drink and glass of water after this famous painting "La Belle Chocolatiere."

From Wikipedia...

Swiss artist Jean-Étienne Liotard called Das Schokoladenmaedchen which can be found at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (art gallery) in Dresden , Germany . The story of the Schokoladenmaedchen not as clear cut as published in the Choice Recipes from 1913. The painting was done in the 1740s at the Vienna court of the Austrian Kaiserin Maria Theresia at a time when Jean-Etienne Liotard had been commissioned to paint both the Kaiser and Kaiserin (empress and emperor). It is said that the model of the

Schokoladenmaedchen was one of the young ladies at court whose beauty led Liotard to put it on a canvas. [ 4 ]

Recipe for how to make German Chocolate Cake

On the box of German's Chocolate is the original recipe for this cake.

Here is the Original recipe for German Chocolate Cake
and some pictures to help along


You can also make little cupcakes or mini cakes as I did for a
someone's Birthday party

German Chocolate Mini Cakes

The flavor of German chocolate cake has been used in other desserts like ice cream and pudding.




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