Monday, October 8, 2012

German's Chocolate Cake

Lovesong by The Cure
I always associate this song with my son-in-law.  I usually associate any song of the 80s British Punk era with him, but this song, in particular, because it was one of the songs he chose for the wedding CD when he married my oldest daughter.  I was not familiar with the song until then and, as I was compiling the CD for them, I had a listen.  Tears came to my eyes as I listened to the sweetness of the lyrics.  Every mother prays for their daughter to find a guy who feels this way about her.  If you aren't familiar with the song or the lyrics, you should be!  And you can read the lyrics here.  It's my son-in-law's birthday today and he and my daughter and their children are coming for a visit.  When I asked what kind of cake (or pie) he'd like to have to celebrate his day, he requested a German Chocolate Cake.  It's my first time making it from scratch.  Read on!

Do you ever look back in your life and try to place where you were when things were happening in other people's lives?  I do.

In 1976, when I was 16, my father took the family on a big trip to see the celebrations of the nation's 200th birthday.  In Washington, D.C., I remember standing on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial one evening.  The Potomac was high that year and I marveled at the power of that river as it rushed by me, only a few feet away.  Dad liked to meander, taking the back roads often.  We saw many of the beauties of the nation on that trip and the symbols of our freedom as well.  It was a very good summer.

Little did I know, or even think to comprehend, that clear on the other side of the country, in Rio Vista, California, a lovely woman and her kind and gentle husband were expecting a son.  A boy whom they would raise to be an amazing young man - who would some day marry the beautiful daughter that I would be giving birth to in six short years.

I noticed Chris quite awhile before he started dating our daughter.  He was in her circle of friends and I was often visiting her when they'd get together for various activities.  There were lots of guys around but he drew my notice because of how he conducted himself - as well as the fact that most of the others were drawn to him as well.  He was a leader - and very much the kind of guy I had hoped she would date.

I asked Becca about him later.  She knew immediately who I was talking about and told me that he was a really great guy.  I asked about the possibility that they would maybe date.  She said they didn't really have much in common and didn't think it very likely at all.  Hmmmm, I thought.

Awhile later, my husband went down to visit and, when he returned, asked if I knew the kid named "Chris" in Becca's circle of friends.  I said that I did.  He also had noticed him and remarked that he thought that maybe Chris liked Becca.  Call it guy's intuition.  Hmmmm, nothing in common, eh?

I paid even closer attention my next trip and I felt that my husband was right.  But Becca didn't think it possible - again, the no common interests issue.  

Well, eventually, they did date and, eventually, they did marry.  And I've had the opportunity to get to know this "really great guy" better.  

My instincts were correct.  He is a leader and a good example.  But my favorite trait that I've observed is that he is swift to recognize and render service where needed.  Like when we were attending a free concert in a park near where they live.  Some people had wandered in to see what it was all about.  They hadn't planned to attend and were without the required seating or blankets on which to enjoy the show.  I didn't notice them trying to perch themselves on their briefcases, but Chris did.  He immediately sprang to his feet and offered them the use of some of our blankets so they would be more comfortable.  This, people, is both a talent and, I believe, a training.

So, for a guy like that, I'm happy to take this challenge of my first German's Chocolate Cake for him.  Notice the name is a little different.  As I researched I found that the cake is named after the brand of sweet chocolate put out by Baker's.  It was originally "German's" and the "'s" got left off along the way and folks just started calling it a German Chocolate Cake.  The cake isn't of German origin at all.  

My first recipe was what I would classify as a "fail."  The second time I used the recipe from the Joy of Baking website - and it was a "win!"  I don't have photos of the cut cake since we won't be eating it until tonight.  I can't bring myself to present a cut-up cake for the guest of honor!  You understand, right?  But I'll try to sneak some on tomorrow - so check back!

*As promised - here are some cut slices of this wonderful cake!  I felt it needed a side shot and another look at the top!
The texture of the cake is super light and fluffy - the frostings are just, in the words of my son-in-law "decadent."  I'll be making this again!

As the recipe is not my own I won't provide it here on my website.  However, I will provide the link to the Joy of Baking website, where you can find it and enjoy it as well!
German's Chocolate Cake doesn't call for any additional frosting other than the Coconut Pecan, but I decided to add some Chocolate Buttercream Frosting in the layers and on top for the decoration.  That recipe is as follows along with some tips for baking the cake from the Joy of Baking recipe.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Printable Recipe Card
4 c. powdered sugar (500 g)
1 c. unsalted butter, softened (227 g)
2 T. cream
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla extract
7 oz., or 1 1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Melt chocolate pieces in a microwave-safe dish for one minute.  Remove and stir until completely melted.  Set aside to cool.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the sugar and butter and beat until light and fluffy, 3 - 5 minutes.  (It won't be quite as fluffy as when you make a vanilla buttercream, but you will be adding more moisture when you add the chocolate.)  Add the cream, salt, and vanilla extract and mix until blended well.  Add the cooled and melted chocolate and mix well.  Add more cream, if needed, to obtain a smooth and silky texture and spreading consistency.
Tips for baking this cake:

1.)  If you don't have 4 oz. of the Baker's brand of Sweet Chocolate, you can use a chocolate that is around 48% cacao.  
2.)  You can melt the chocolate in the microwave for a minute, then stir until it is completely melted.  Be very careful not to burn the chocolate!
3.)  I don't have coffee on hand, but I do have the Torani's Coffee-flavored syrup, of which I used two pumps as part of the water called for in the recipe.
4.)  Take the time to sift the flour and other dry ingredients and not just whisk them together.  Cake flour tends to clump, and even after whisking you can see little white clumps of flour.
5.)  Don't have cake flour?  Make your own - use All-Purpose flour and replace a few tablespoons of the All-Purpose flour with cornstarch.
6.)  When adding the flour and buttermilk alternately, do not over mix between additions.  As soon as the flour mix begins to incorporate, add the buttermilk.  As soon as that begins to incorporate, add the next part of flour mix - and so on until you add the final flour mix.  Then only stir until combined.
7.)  The cake bakes forming a thin sugary shell which crumbles when handled.  You might want to brush some of that away to make frosting easier.


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    1. Why thank you! That's kind of you to say so!

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