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Gluten Free German Chocolate Cake

Prep time: 40 mins
Cook time: 47 mins
Calories: 618


This classic cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting is credited to a Texas homemaker who used Sam German’s sweet baking chocolate, still made today by Baker’s Chocolate Company.

For Egg-Free German Chocolate Cake, omit 4 eggs. Reduce butter of choice to 3/4 cup. Add an additional 1/4 cup flour blend (a total of 21/2 cups). Combine 4 tablespoons golden flax meal with 6 tablespoons hot water; set aside to cool and thicken. Skip step 3. Add the flax gel in step 5, beating just until combined. In step 7, omit the egg whites. Bake 7 to 10 minutes more, if necessary. The cake is very delicate; it’s best sliced with an angel food cake cutter or chilled and carefully sliced using an electric knife.

For Egg-Free Coconut-Pecan Frosting, follow the frosting instructions (step 10) but leave out the 5 egg yolks. If the frosting is too stiff to spread, warm it slightly to soften. Refrigerate the frosted cake, as frosting may drip if it’s too warm.

Gluten free German chocolate cake photo by Jules Shepard

Chocolate Has a Rich History

We humans have been enjoying chocolate in some form for over 5,000 years. Believing that cacao beans contained magical characteristics, early South American cultures integrated them into many aspects of life, from sacred ceremonies to alcoholic beverages. They even traded the beans as currency.

After its discovery in the Americas, cacao made its way to Europe where it remained a privilege of the rich at first, who enjoyed it as a fashionable drink.

Fortunately in the 1800s, a Dutch chemist discovered a method for powdering chocolate and treating the mixture with alkaline salts to cut its naturally bitter taste. The process, known as “Dutching” the cocoa, led to the creation of solid chocolate and the proliferation of chocolate for all. Dutch-process cocoa powder is typically darker and less bitter than regular cocoa powder. Both natural and Dutch-process cocoa powder contain a higher proportion of cocoa solids than other forms of chocolate, delivering an intense chocolate taste to baked goods and making cocoa powder a pantry staple.

Today, chocolate comes in a wide variety of forms, from varying percentages of cocoa content to white chocolate, allergy-friendly chocolate, sugar-free chocolate and even vegan and dairy-free versions of milk chocolate.

Associate editor Jules Shepard is author of Free for All Cooking (DaCapo Perseus), The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free (DaCapo Perseus) and Nearly Normal Cooking for Gluten-Free Eating (CreateSpace).

Yields 16 servings


  • 4 ounces German’s Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar (48% cocoa)
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup less 1 tablespoon milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup butter or Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups Jules’ Homemade All-Purpose Flour Blend
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped pecans, optional
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1½ cups evaporated milk or evaporated coconut milk
  • ¾ cup butter, Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


1Grease three 9-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2In a double boiler or in the microwave, gently heat German chocolate and water, stirring until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.

3Separate eggs, setting the yolks aside. Beat whites until stiff peaks form but whites aren’t dry. Set aside.

4Combine milk and lemon juice in a glass and set aside to curdle.

5Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in cooled melted chocolate and vanilla.

6In a separate bowl, whisk together flour blend, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

7Add flour mixture to creamed sugar mixture, alternating with lemon/milk mixture and beating after each addition until smooth. Gently fold in egg whites and be sure not to over-work the batter.

8Distribute batter evenly among prepared pans.

9Place in preheated oven and bake 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Remove layers to cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Then remove cake layers from pans to fully cool on a wire rack.

10To make Coconut-Pecan Frosting, arrange chopped pecans in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast in a 350°F oven for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring once to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, butter and egg yolks in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to help the butter melt and keep mixture from burning. Once mixture begins to boil, continue to cook, stirring constantly 15 minutes until mixture is light brown and somewhat thickened. Remove pan from heat and stir in pecans, coconut and vanilla. Place pan in a larger pan filled with ice water to chill frosting faster or cover and refrigerate overnight. (Be sure frosting is completely cooled before frosting cakes.)

11Cover the tops of each layer with cooled frosting and assemble cake by stacking layers. Refrigerate cake, if necessary, to keep frosting from dripping down the sides of the cake.

Each serving contains 618 calories, 34g total fat, 22g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 180mg cholesterol, 212mg sodium, 73g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 50g sugars, 6g protein.