You’re standing in front of a bakery case, trying to decide between two delicious-looking cakes: German chocolate and chocolate.
Both look tempting, but what’s the difference?
Well, German chocolate cake is a layered cake that’s made with sweet baking chocolate and coconut-pecan frosting. The frosting is cooked on the stove and then spread between the layers and on top of the cake. Chocolate cake, on the other hand, is a classic dessert that’s made with cocoa powder and can be frosted with a variety of toppings.
While both cakes are chocolate-based, the primary difference is the frosting.
German chocolate cake has a rich, nutty flavor thanks to the coconut-pecan frosting, while chocolate cake can be topped with anything from buttercream to ganache. Another difference is the texture – German chocolate cake is often denser and more moist than traditional chocolate cake.
But which one is better?
That’s up to you!
Some people love the sweet, nutty flavor of German chocolate cake, while others prefer the classic simplicity of chocolate cake.
History/Origins of German Chocolate Cake
Contrary to popular belief, German chocolate cake is not actually from Germany.
It was invented in the United States in the mid-19th century by a man named Samuel German, who worked for the Baker’s Chocolate Company. German’s chocolate was a type of sweet baking chocolate that was named after him, and it was used to make the cake.
The original recipe for German chocolate cake was first published in a Dallas newspaper in 1957, and it quickly became popular across the country. The cake is known for its rich, chocolate flavor and its signature coconut-pecan frosting, which is made by cooking evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, and butter until thick, and the addition of coconut and pecans.
Even though German chocolate cake has no connection to Germany, it is believed that the use of coconut and pecans in the recipe was inspired by German immigrants who settled in the southern United States in the 19th century. These ingredients were commonly used in German baking, and they were likely incorporated into the cake as a way to add flavor and texture.
History/Origins of Chocolate Cake
You may be surprised to learn that chocolate cake as we know it today has only been around for a little over a century.
The first chocolate cake recipe was actually published in 1847 by a woman named Eliza Leslie in her cookbook “Directions for Cookery.” However, chocolate itself has been enjoyed for thousands of years. The ancient Mayans and Aztecs believed that chocolate had divine properties and even used it as currency.
The first chocolate cakes were actually more like chocolate bread than the decadent dessert we know today. They were typically made with unsweetened chocolate and served with a simple sugar glaze. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that recipes for richer, sweeter chocolate cakes began to appear.
In contrast to German chocolate cake, traditional chocolate cake is typically made with cocoa powder instead of chocolate bars. It can be served plain, with a simple frosting, or with a variety of toppings such as strawberries or whipped cream.
Differences in Ingredients
The most obvious difference is the type of chocolate used. Chocolate cake typically uses unsweetened cocoa powder, while German chocolate cake uses sweetened chocolate. German chocolate cake specifically calls for Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, which is a type of chocolate that is sweeter and has a lower percentage of cocoa solids than other types of chocolate.
Another difference is the type of sugar used. Chocolate cake typically uses granulated sugar, while German chocolate cake uses a combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar. This gives German chocolate cake a richer, more caramel-like flavor.
German chocolate cake also uses more butter than traditional chocolate cake. This not only adds richness to the cake but also helps to keep it moist.
Lastly, German chocolate cake typically uses evaporated milk or buttermilk, while chocolate cake uses regular milk. This again adds to the richness and depth of flavor in German chocolate cake.
Differences in Preparation
German Chocolate Cake
German chocolate cake is known for its rich, chocolatey flavor and its signature coconut pecan frosting. To make this cake, you’ll need to follow a few specific steps.
First, you’ll need to make the frosting. This involves cooking together evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, and butter until it thickens. Add coconut and pecans.
Next, you’ll prepare the cake batter. This typically involves creaming together butter and sugar, adding in eggs and vanilla, and then alternating between adding in dry ingredients and milk until the batter is smooth. Finally, you’ll fold in some melted chocolate to give the cake its rich flavor.
Once the batter is ready, you’ll pour it into cake pans and bake until it’s cooked through. After the cakes have cooled, you’ll spread the coconut pecan frosting between the layers and on top of the cake.
Chocolate cake is a classic dessert that can be prepared in a variety of ways. Here’s a basic method for making a simple chocolate cake.
First, you’ll cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then, you’ll add in eggs and vanilla, followed by dry ingredients and milk. The key to a good chocolate cake is to use high-quality cocoa powder, which will give the cake its rich chocolate flavor.
Once the batter is mixed, you’ll pour it into cake pans and bake until it’s cooked through. After the cakes have cooled, you can frost them with your favorite frosting recipe. Some popular choices include buttercream, cream cheese frosting, or a simple chocolate ganache.
Differences in Taste and Texture
German chocolate cake is known for its rich, nutty flavor and dense, moist texture. On the other hand, chocolate cake is typically lighter in texture and has a more straightforward chocolate taste.
German chocolate cake gets its distinct flavor from the coconut and pecan filling that is sandwiched between layers of chocolate cake.
In contrast, chocolate cake is all about the chocolate.
It has a rich, cocoa flavor that is sometimes enhanced with coffee or espresso. The texture is light and fluffy, with a tender crumb that melts in your mouth.
|German Chocolate Cake
|Sweetened chocolate (Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate)
|Unsweetened cocoa powder
|Combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar
|More butter used
|Standard amount of butter
|Evaporated milk or buttermilk
|Rich, chocolatey with coconut and pecan filling
|Straightforward chocolate flavor
|Dense and moist
|Light and fluffy
|Signature coconut-pecan frosting
|Various options: buttercream, cream cheese, chocolate ganache
|Invented in the US by Samuel German, inspired by German baking
|Originated in 1847, evolved over time
I’m Griffin and I make my living as a freelance writer and wannabe sci fi author. Besides my obsession with words, I have a few others which may or may not include craft beer, backcountry hikes and spending time with loved ones – preferably in that order. Thanks for checking out my work and I hope you enjoy it!