When my stepfather was a young man, he built a cabin nestled in the trees by a lake. In the years since he built this house, he has lived many lives.
It’s been a quiet spot for seniors in their prime, the setting for rambunctious teenage sleepovers and quiet weekend getaways, and even a dressing room for a delighted bride. It was a nursery for her twins when they were babies, then for her newborn grandson 40 years later.
He built this house and maintained it with care so that it could be a refuge for those in need.
For me, the hut is a symbol of his enterprising nature, which I deeply admire.
He recently celebrated his birthday by going fishing with close friends. I know how much he loves sweets, so when he came back I had a cake and a song waiting for him. We only had a few minutes to celebrate together before he came out again (he’s still on the move), but my son enjoyed the candle and his ice cream from his seat on Grandpa’s lap.
This German chocolate cake is rich and decadent and looks gorgeous with a sparkling candle on top.
german chocolate cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1½ tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
1¾ cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup boiling water
For the frosting:
¾ cup evaporated milk
4 egg yolks
⅓ cup butter
1⅓ cup sugar
Touch of vanilla extract
2½ cups shredded coconut
1½ cups chopped pecans
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare your cake pans. I used a large round springform pan, but you could also use two 8-inch rounds. Grease the molds and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Whisk in the sugar, mixing well.
In another bowl, combine the vegetable oil, milk, eggs and vanilla extract.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and whisk gently to combine.
Add boiling water and whisk until smooth.
Pour into your prepared molds.
If you used two pans, bake for about 35 minutes; if you used a large lathe it will be around 50 minutes. Whichever pan you use, the cake is done when the top is firm and springy, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan, then let it cool completely before frosting it.
For the icing:
In a large saucepan off the heat, whisk together the evaporated milk and egg yolks until smooth.
Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Turn the heat to medium-low and add the butter. Stir continuously until the butter is melted. This should take 5-10 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in the grated coconut, chopped pecans and vanilla extract.
Allow frosting to cool to room temperature before frosting.
For added richness, consider brushing the cake with black coffee before frosting. This will help keep the cake moist, and the bitter coffee will enhance the flavor of the chocolate. This additional step is not necessary but is highly recommended.
Tressa Dale is a culinary and pastry school graduate and U.S. Navy veteran who lives in Nikiski, Alaska with her husband, 2-year-old son and two black cats.