Is it German Chocolate Cake or German’s Chocolate Cake?

German Chocolate Cake

German chocolate cake is the popular term used for this ultra sweet milk chocolate cake with caramel icing embellished with pecans and coconut (among other favorite toppings and renditions).  This cake however is not at all German as the name suggests, in fact the only tie it has that is remotely German is the fact that the man who invented this rich, sweet flavor of chocolate was named German. 

Sam German was an employee for Baker’s Chocolate back in 1852, it is thought that he submitted his own variation of milk chocolate to be added to the companies line, the owners were so impressed with his creation that they named the spectacular variation after him, thus Baker’s German’s Chocolate. By the time the recipe, for the now renowned chocolate cake was published in news papers across the country, the name had been shortened to German chocolate cake.

The Origin of the Recipe

While popular myth and urban legend dictate that German chocolate cake’s recipe was brought by German settlers to the Midwestern United States, it is believed more likely that a existing chocolate cake recipe was simply improved upon by changing the ingredients of said cake to incorporate the German’s chocolate instead of standard milk chocolate.  For example: chocolate cake with pecans was a common dessert in the south where pecans are abundant, and by the 1950’s, when the infamous Texan recipe was published in the local newspapers; the recipe the housewife used was likely an old family recipe she had adapted with the German’s chocolate to make an entirely new flavor of cake. 

The popular belief that German chocolate cake is in fact from Germany is due to the fact that it is so rich, many German foods have the same over-the-top deliciousness that German chocolate cake offers.  Especially with the embellishment of the decadent caramel coconut icing topped with pecans and sometimes even candied cherries.  This mouthwatering desert would definitely be within the tradition of German cooking.

Today’s German Chocolate Cake

Today there are hundreds of recipes available for German chocolate cake`, for any culinary skill level; boxed varieties are available on every grocery store shelf, and premium ingredients available to the experienced or adventurous baker.  For the average person, a boxed cake is likely better q1uality than one that could be made from scratch, simply because, mass producers can buy premium grade flours and other ingredients at wholesale giving the consumer a high level of quality for the modest price.  The part to really make from original ingredients is the frosting, as a mass produced frosting simply can’t compete with a fresh homemade creation.  There are several recipes available in countless books, websites, and bakeries for all who are willing to put in their time and effort for the ultimate German chocolate cake.