Inside-Out German Chocolate Cake

Every year on my dad’s birthday, he asks for one cake and one cake only: Inside-Out German Chocolate Cake. It’s perfect for birthdays and holidays. This cake takes time and attention, but is well worth it. I recommend serving it with vanilla ice cream to balance the deep chocolate flavor.

Active Time: 1 1/2 hours Total Time: 4 1/4 hours

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup boiling-hot water
  • For the filling
  • 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • 4 ounces or 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 14-ounce-can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • For the glaze
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • Special Equipment: 3 9-inch-round cake pans; 9-inch deep-dish pie plate; water bath

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease the cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with rounds of parchment or wax paper. In a large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, whisk together the whole milk, butter, whole egg, yolk, vanilla, and almond extract until just combined. Beat the egg mixture into the flour mixture with an electric mixer on low speed, then beat on high speed 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and beat in the hot water until just combined; the batter will be thin. Divide the batter among the cake pans—approximately 1 1/2 cups per pan—and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans and rotating them 180 degrees halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes total.


Cool the layers in pans on racks 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of the pans and invert the layers onto racks. Carefully remove the parchment or wax paper and cool the layers completely.<br>

Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Spread the sweetened coconut in a large shallow baking pan, and the pecans in another. Bake the pecans in upper third of the oven and the coconut in lower third, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 18 minutes. Remove the pans from oven.


Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Pour the condensed milk into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and cover tightly with foil. Bake milk in a water bath in middle of oven 45 minutes. Refill the baking pan with water to reach halfway up the plate and bake the condensed milk until thick and brown, about 45 minutes more. Remove the pie plate from the water bath. Stir in the coconut, pecans, and vanilla and keep warm, covered with foil.


While the condensed milk is baking, make the glaze. Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan. Remove it from the heat and add the chocolate and corn syrup, whisking until the chocolate has melted. Transfer 1 cup of the glaze to a bowl, reserving the remaining glaze to cool to room temperature in the saucepan. Chill the glaze in the bowl, stirring occasionally, until it’s thickened and spreadable, approximately 1 hour.


Put 1 cake layer on a rack set over the saucepan, to catch the excess glaze. Drop half of the coconut filling by spoonfuls evenly over the layer and gently spread with a wet spatula. Top with another cake layer and spread with remaining filling in same manner. Top with remaining cake layer and spread the cooled glaze evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Over low heat, heat the reserved glaze in the saucepan, stirring, until glossy and pourable, approximately 1 minute. Pour the glaze evenly over top of the cake, making sure it coats the sides. Shake the rack gently to smooth the glaze. Chill the cake until firm, approximately 1 hour. Transfer the cake to a serving plate. Yield: 12 servings


Cook’s Note: This cake keeps, covered and chilled, for 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving. For easier handling when assembling the cake, place the bottom layer on a cardboard round or the removable bottom of a tart or cake pan.