one amazing cake and a birthday

Today is James' birthday! I can't believe he's already 28! (That's two years away from THIRTY!!!!) We are getting old. 

According to him, the highlights of year 27 were: getting accepted into grad school, and getting a new job with Goldman Sachs. In his 28th year of life his goals are: "to make it through school and work." :-) Awe, he's cute. (I'm hoping he makes it through too!)

I asked what kind of birthday cake he wanted me to make for him, and he requested German chocolate cake. Wouldn't of been my first choice, but it's not my birthday. I found a recipe that looked promising (and a little tricky) on Pinterest, and since no plans were on today's agenda, we (Jillian and I, but mostly I) got to bakin'. 

Of course I sampled as I went, and about two "tastes" in I knew I'd been converted to German chocolate cake...because HOLY CRAP this one is DELICIOUS. Usually when I think of German chocolate cake, the cake is dry and the filling is overly sweet with waayy too much coconut. THIS one couldn't be any different.

If you're not a believer, give this one a try.

German Chocolate Cake
(recipe from Sass & Verocity

For the cake...
2 c. sugar
1-3/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. natural unsweetened cocoa
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 lg. eggs
1 c. whole milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. boiling water
For the filling...
7 oz. sweetened shredded coconut (about 2 c.)
4 oz. chopped almonds (about 1 c.)
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 T vanilla
1/4-1/2 c. heavy cream

For the topping...
2-1/2 sticks unsalted butter (1-1/4 c.)
10 oz. semisweet chocolate
3 T light corn syrup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread the coconut on one baking sheet, and the chopped
nuts on another. Bake for about 15 minutes or until coconut is just beginning to brown and nuts are aromatic. Remove from oven, and stir, then set aside.

Turn the oven temperature up to 350 degrees F and prepare two 8" x 3" cake pans by lightlyoiling, lining the bottoms with parchment, oiling again, then lightly dusting with flour. Set them on a large cookie sheet if you can. Heat some water to the boiling point -- you'll need to add it to the batter.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt. Whisk a few times to blend well. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla to the dry ingredients, and beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Pour the boiling water into the mixture and mix well.
Pour batter into the prepared cake pans and place them in the oven to bake for 40-45
minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center is clean after removed.

Cool the layers in the pans on a rack for 15 minutes, then remove them and cool on the
racks completely. When the layers are completely cool, cut each in half horizontally to
create four layers. Remove all parchment.

To prepare the filling, after removing the cake layers from the oven, turn the temperature up to 425 degrees F. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a casserole dish that will fit inside a larger pan. Pour hot water into the larger pan to reach half way up the sides of the casserole. Cover the entire set up with foil and seal well. Bake for 45 minutes. At that point, remove the foil with extreme caution as steam will be released, and check the water level. Add more hot water to reach half way up the sides of the casserole again, seal well with foil and place back in the oven for an additional 45 minutes. The milk should be thick and the color of a rich caramel. Stir, and keep warm and covered.

To prepare the topping, melt the butter in a sauce pan. Remove it from the heat and add
the chocolate in small pieces, stirring until the chocolate is melted. Stir in the corn syrup.
Reserve 1 cup in a bowl and place it in the fridge to thicken, about 1 hour. Stir well
occasionally until it reaches a spreadable point. Keep the remainder of the chocolate mixture at room temperature.

To assemble the cake, mix the dulce de leche, most of the coconut (save some for
decoration if you wish), nuts and vanilla and stir well. The mixture must be spreadable. Pour in just enough heavy cream to achieve the desired consistency and mix well.
Place the first cake layer on a piece of cardboard cut for the cake, or the removable metal bottom of a cake pan and place it over a baking rack set above a baking sheet to collect excess glaze when the topping goes on. Divide the filling into three equal quantities. Mound 1/3 of the filling onto the first layer and spread with an offset spatula that has been dipped in water. Continue until all layers are assembled.
Cover the sides and top of the cake with the chilled chocolate. If it's too firm, put it in the microwave for 5 seconds and stir until it softens, but do not over use the microwave or you'll ruin the chocolate. Make sure the warm chocolate is pourable, reheating over an extremely low flame briefly, and then stirring until glossy and smooth. Pour over the center of the cake, and with an offset spatula, gently push it to the sides and over, smoothing as you go as little as possible. Warm water to dip the spatula in works wonders for this. Allow to sit until the chocolate is finished dripping, and remove to a cake platter then refrigerate until serving. To slice, warm a knife in hot water.

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