German Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting {Recipe}

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This past weekend I had a cake tasting for an upcoming wedding and one of the requested flavors was German Chocolate Cake.  Well, I’ve never made a German Chocolate Cake, but I’m always up for a new chocolate recipe, so I went for it.

Since most of the cakes I do start with a cake mix, that’s where I started for this cake too.  I read through a recipe in the Cake Mix Doctor book and adapted it to my liking!

It turned out soooo yummy!   I’m huge chocolate fan so in my opinion, you can’t really go wrong with any chocolate cake, but this cake was just scrumptious!!

For the frosting, I made my usual chocolate buttercream recipe (cut in half) with a few modifications and the addition of cream cheese, of course!  The addition of cream cheese might have made this my new favorite frosting… it was just SO creamy and perfect and wonderful!

I might have eaten a few spoonfuls straight out of the bowl.

I could have eaten it straight of the bowl with a spoon, but I didn’t 😉 !    Next time, I might even try it with a little more cream cheese to see what happens… it was fantastic!

Now, before you yell at me, I didn’t do the typical German Chocolate Cake frosting – where there is coconut and pecans actually mixed into the frosting, but that’s just a technicality, right?

There are pecans.  There is coconut.  There is chocolate.   All is good.  However, if you don’t like the coconut and/or pecans, you could easily omit them from this cake and it would still be delectable!!

This post is linked up at Cast Party Wednesday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Foodie Friday, I’m Lovin’ It, Fusion Friday, Flour Me With Love, and  Works for Me Wednesday!

Any questions or comments about this recipe?  Please leave me a comment!

And here’s my recipe:

German Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting {Recipe}
  • CAKE:
  • 1 box (18.75 ounces) German Chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
  • 4 ounces of milk chocolate (chips or bar)
  • 1 box (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 ounces sour cream
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup solid vegetable shortening*
  • ½ cup salted butter, at room temperature (1 stick)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cups cocoa powder
  • 1 - 1.5 pounds confectioners' sugar
  • ½ cup of flaked coconut (optional)
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 3-4 tablespoons warm water (or milk, but water allows the chocolate flavor to be stronger)
  • *You can omit the shortening and double the butter to 1 cup if you prefer. The frosting will be softer, but still perfectly delicious!
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly spray (2) 8" pans with Baker's Joy (or spray with non-stick spray then dust them with cocoa powder).
  2. Chop the chocolate (if necessary), then place into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high power for 60-90 seconds, stirring with a fork every 30 seconds until completely melted.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted chocolate, cake mix, pudding mix, water, sour cream, oil and eggs. Mix for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth (the batter will be thick). Scrape down the bowl periodically as needed.
  4. Bake for 28-32 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
  5. While the cake is baking, we'll make the frosting. In a mixing bowl, add the butter, shortening, cream cheese and vanilla. Cream until smooth, but do not over-beat. Add in the cocoa powder and 1 pound of the confectioner's sugar. Then add in 1-2 tablespoons of milk until the frosting easily mixes.
  6. Now this next step is not going to be terribly specific. Continue adding confectioner's sugar and/or milk until the desired consistency is desired. If you like a softer frosting, you may want to add more milk and less powdered sugar. If you want a stiffer frosting for piping or decorating, you may need more powdered sugar and less milk. You'll have to play with it until you get the desired texture.
  7. When you're done, stick the frosting in the refrigerator to chill.
  8. After the cakes are done, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Then flip them out onto cooling racks and allow them to completely cool - at least 30 minutes.
  9. When cooled, place one layer on a cake plate with the bottom side up. Frost with a generous layer of frosting, and if you're going all out, then sprinkle the coconut over the frosting and gently press it into the frosting with your hand. Then sprinkle about ¼ cup of the chopped nuts over the coconut.
  10. Stack the second layer of cake on top of that and then frost the entire out side of the cake. Sprinkle the remaining pecans over the top of the cake. You can pipe a border if you like or leave it as is.
  11. Enjoy!



  1. Kristen Miller says

    That sounds fantastic! Especially the frosting!!! :) However, I don’t know that the mixing it in the frosting thing is a technicality. Haha! Well I guess it’s more to do with the type of frosting it is. Because usually it’s a caramelly thing cooked on the stove top. I’m sure I’d prefer the chocolate personally! But it would be cool to do the usual frosting as the filling and then the chocolate frosting to cover it. I think that would make for a nice surprise on the inside. :) Mmmmm may have to try that!!

    • Rose says

      Oh, come on Kristen… you can play along with my “technicality” claim, cant you? hehe. I really don’t like the frosting that goes on a classic German Chocolate cake… it’s gooey and gross to me (but I’m not a huge coconut fan either). However, the small amount on this cake was really good. It added texture and wasn’t overwhelming.

    • Rose says

      Thanks.. so glad you stopped by! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this cake! It was SO good!! In fact, to keep from eating the whole thing, I cut up slices, and handed them out to family and friends on Saturday 😉

  2. Sarah says

    This cake looks beautiful and delicious. German Chocolate is my husband’s favorite so I’ll give this recipe a try. Thanks. We are linky neighbors at Foodie Friday.

  3. Sarah says

    Back again. I’m curious how you set up your widget for Categories so that you have a dropdown menu. I’d like to add this to my sidebar. Thanks, Sarah

    • Rose says

      I wish I could tell you. My designer did that!! I’m brand new to WordPress and don’t know how to change much of anything… but I’ll look at it over the weekend and if I can figure it out, I’ll gladly share!

    • Rose says

      I thought I’d try to figure this out today when I had a little time… are you talking about the Categories on my sidebar or the dropdown menu at the top on my tabs?

      • Sarah says

        Yes. I like the way the index is contained in the dropdown menu so it doesn’t make a lengthy list along the sidebar as mine currently does.
        Thanks, Sarah

  4. Linda G says

    I am looking for a frosting recipe for a German chocolate cake that doesn’t have nuts or coconut. Yours sounds good but I have a question: In the frosting recipe, there is an asterisk after the solid shortening ingredient and another asterisk after the 3-4 tablespoons of warm water. However, I don’t see the corresponding asterisks for either of those items anywhere in the instructions. Can you explain what the asterisks are for? Also, is there any way to substitute something else for the solid shortening?

    Thank you!

    • Rose says

      Thank you for pointing that out – I didn’t even realize the errors :-/ I made the corrections, so hopefully that will answer all of your questions!

  5. Julie says

    Hi Rose,

    Apparently I’m a little late to this party, but I wanted to know if you think the chocolate coconut buttercream could be made into a vanilla version? Have you ever tried this? Would you just eliminate the cocoa, or do you have to substitute something for it?

    Thanks in advance for your reply! :o)


    • Rose says

      I think it would work great! You may have to add a little more powdered sugar or a little less water to get the correct consistency, but I imagine it would be fantastic!

      • Julie says

        Ok, so last night I had some of the leftover coconut cream cheese frosting on top of a chocolate cupcake…oh. My. Goodness! In Canada we have a chocolate bar called Bounty. In the US, you have one called Mounds. Well, that is what this combo tasted like. So thank you, Rose! Your German cake was my inspiration!! Yummmmm!!

  6. Julie says

    Wow!! You were quick to reply!! Impressive! Thanks for the answer. When I give it a whirl in a couple of days, I’ll let you know how it turned out. I am doing filling for a wedding cake, and wanted to make sure to have a good coconut filling! :)

  7. Julie says

    Me again!! 😛

    Just wondered if you think I could mix the coconut right into the frosting? And what would you think of putting toasted coconut in? Too much crunch in a cake?

    • Rose says

      Eeeh… that’s just a matter of personal taste. Some people HATE texture in their frosting – others don’t mind. I will say that piping it (like on the borders) is a nightmare if you have coconut or nuts in the frosting, so if you’re planning on embellishing it that way, at least keep some of the frosting “plain”.

      • Julie says

        Hi again! No, it’s just filling, and it was requested to be a coconut filling. So, I used your German cake frosting minus the cocoa, and I tried both toasted coconut as well as plain. Plain won, so I added unsweetened dessicated coconut. Yummy!! Hope the bride and groom like it! :)

        Thanks for your help, Rose!

  8. Friederike says

    Hi Rose
    Can the butter in the frosting be replaced by shortening to make the cake ready for fondant and not need cooling? Looking for Most stunning filling/frosting for chocolate cake which cannot to into a fridge :-)
    PS being German i have never heard about German Choclate cake – will try and taste to find
    PPS Thanks so much for this awesome webpage!,,

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