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Recipe Test! “German Chocolate Darn Good Cake” June 10, 2009

Posted by Galaxy in Uncategorized.

Our friend Craig, who works for publishers Algonquin and Workman, recently emailed us to ask if we’d like to be part of a recipe test by booksellers across the country. Since the recipes were for cakes, it wasn’t hard to say yes.

Knowing I’d be blogging about the experience, I decided to photograph the process and was excited to discover that my camera actually has an auto setting for food! I don’t know if you’ve tried taking (or seen) amateur photos of food, but they can really look awful. I think these came  out fairly well–at the very least, it looks edible.

Normally, I’m terrible at following recipes, but I figured that this was one time when I should actually use the ingredients called for, and it payed off. That’s not to say, however, that you shouldn’t put your own spin on this recipe–it comes from a cookbook called The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!, so the whole point of the book is to show how you can take something basic and change it up.

Notes from along the way:

This was a very easy recipe–two box mixes (cake and pudding), combined with the usual suspects (eggs, oil, water), plus a couple of extras (sour cream, coconut, pecans). The best part was that, aside from the coconut and nuts, it all gets dumped into one bowl and mixed together. Fewer bowls=less to wash up after!

The batter was extremely thick–it reminded me of marshmallow fluff. I assume this is due to the pudding mix, and possibly the extra egg. There’s also less liquid called for in the recipe than on the box.

Pouring the batter into the pan, I realized I should have chosen a lighter mixing bowl. The batter is pretty dense, and the bundt pan requires a bit of finesse to fill so as not to spill into the center hole.

Be sure to grease and flour the pan very well–lots of nooks and crannies in a bundt pan mean that there are more chances for the cake to stick. I was extra particular on this point, and a small spatula used around the edges was all that was needed to have a nicely intact cake emerge from the pan.

After cutting into the cake, I discovered that all of the chocolate chips had fallen to the bottom (or, rather, the top). I don’t know if this was supposed to happen, but if I made it again I might try dusting the chips with a bit of flour, which I’ve heard helps suspend them in the batter.

Obviously, this German Chocolate Cake does not come with that wonderfully gooey frosting that traditional recipes offer. Anne Byrne has created a cake that gives you the flavors of the original–a light, sweet chocolate cake with coconut and pecan topping–without a lot of fuss.

The results? Lots of raves from our customers who tried it! “Moist” and “delicious” were the two compliments heard most. One customer commented that it would be a great cake for a party, and she was right–this is a big cake, and a small slice is quite satisfying.

Try it for yourself, and let us know what you think! The cookbook will be available in September, but Byrne has published a number of other books devoted to baking with cake mixes, as well as a couple of books on making quick & easy meals.

German Chocolate Darn Good Cake

Serves: 12 to 16

Prep: 15 minutes

Bake: 55 to 58 minutes

Cool: 35 to 45 minutes


Vegetable oil spray, for misting the pan

Flour, for dusting the pan

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 package (18.25 ounces) plain German chocolate cake mix

1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2/3 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) semisweet chocolate or milk chocolate chips

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust it with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Sprinkle the pecans and coconut in the bottom of the pan and set the pan aside.

2. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, water, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. The batter should look thick and well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, making sure they are well distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula, and place the pan in the oven.

3. Bake the cake until it just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 55 to 58 minutes. Transfer the Bundt pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edges of the cake, shake the pan gently, and invert the cake onto the wire rack. Let the cake cool completely, 25 to 30 minutes longer before slicing and serving. Or invert the cake onto a serving platter to slice and serve while still warm.

Store this cake, in a cake saver or covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to five days. Freeze the cake, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to six months. Let the cake thaw overnight on the counter before serving.


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