SMiLes by Meg

German Chocolate Trifle

I think I figured out how trifle was invented. We’ve all been there. You promise to make a cake for some event. You decide to wait until the day of said event because you obviously don’t want to bring stale cake somewhere. You follow the directions for making the batter to a T. And then you get cocky.

The instructions say line the bottom of the cake pan with wax paper. You scoff at this unnecessary step. You haven’t had a problem with a cake coming out of a pan in two years. You run a weekly baking blog, for goodness sake. Ignoring the fact that your cookbook has never lied to you in the past, you simply spray the pan and move on.

And then this happens:

German Chocolate Trifle - 30So what do you do? That was one of three layers for this elaborate cake you’d decided to impress people with! You can’t start from scratch! You have a mini panic attack before you remember that big glass pedestal bowl sitting in your cabinet. You could just crumble the cake into the bowl. Then add some of the frosting. Then maybe make it pretty by doing it in layers and sprinkling coconut on top. Problem solved and dessert invented: German Chocolate Trifle.

I know that in my previous chocolate trifle post I said that you should never mess with the original. However, I think this is an exception because the flavor palette is not changed dramatically. It’s still at its base chocolate. I’ve just swapped out some of the chocolate for other flavors like coconut and caramel. And rather than heath bars for crunch, the pecans do the trick.

A quick aside about German Chocolate Cake – It is not actually a German (like the country Germany) dessert, as I believed due to its name. The name comes from Samuel German, who made the specific chocolate used, which is a dark baking chocolate with the sugar already added to it. I was curious enough that I looked it up, and if you want to read more, you can do so here.

Anyways, first, you want to separate the eggs while they are still cold, and allow them to come to room temperature before proceeding. This can be done while the butter is softening.

German Chocolate Trifle - 1Once that’s all good to go, you can really start. In a small saucepan, combine the chocolate, broken into squares, and water. Stir over low heat until completely melted and smooth.

German Chocolate Trifle - 2 German Chocolate Trifle - 3Set the chocolate aside to cool for 10 minutes while you do a couple of other steps, like whisking together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

German Chocolate Trifle - 4You should also hand-beat the egg yolks for about a minute in a small bowl.

German Chocolate Trifle - 5In your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This takes about three minutes on medium speed using the paddle attachment.

German Chocolate Trifle - 6 German Chocolate Trifle - 7Add the egg yolks, and beat to combine.

German Chocolate Trifle - 8 German Chocolate Trifle - 9Then, add the cooled chocolate mixture and the vanilla extract, beating again until combined.

German Chocolate Trifle - 10 German Chocolate Trifle - 11Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, and beating after each addition.

German Chocolate Trifle - 12 German Chocolate Trifle - 13 German Chocolate Trifle - 14In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. My hand mixer came with this big whisk looking thing that I never could think of a use for until today, so if you have one of those, it’s actually awesome. I pushed my mixer to speed 7 (I had never it pushed it so far before, so that was exciting) and had soft peaks in under a minute.

German Chocolate Trifle - 15 German Chocolate Trifle - 16Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter until combined.

German Chocolate Trifle - 17 German Chocolate Trifle - 18Divide your batter evenly between three 9 inch cake pans, sprayed with baking spray.

German Chocolate Trifle - 19If, like me, you don’t have three cake pans, just use a pie dish to make sure you keep it even. You’ll bake the last batch separate.

German Chocolate Trifle - 20Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes at 350°F, or until a toothpick comes out clean. It’s supposed to be light, so try not to overbake it!

German Chocolate Trifle - 21Allow them to cool completely in the pans.

While the cake is cooling, you can make the frosting. In a large saucepan, beat together the evaporated milk and egg yolks.

German Chocolate Trifle - 22 German Chocolate Trifle - 23Then, stir in the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract.

German Chocolate Trifle - 24Continue to stir over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture is golden and bubbly.

German Chocolate Trifle - 25 German Chocolate Trifle - 26Remove it from heat and stir in the coconut and pecans. I just used a 5 1/2 cup bag of flaked coconut and reserved about a half cup for sprinkling on top at the end.

German Chocolate Trifle - 27 German Chocolate Trifle - 28Transfer the frosting to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature for about two hours. It will thicken while it’s cooling.

German Chocolate Trifle - 29Then, to assemble your trifle, crumble one layer of cake into the bottom, add about a third of the icing, and repeat to make three layers. sprinkle the top with coconut. Refrigerate until serving.


German Chocolate Trifle - 32

German Chocolate Trifle

Cake Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, broken into squares
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Cake Directions:

  1. Combine water and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, hand-beat egg yolks for about a minute. Set aside.
  4. In your stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed with the paddle attachment for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg yolks and beat to combine.
  6. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and vanilla extract and beat to combine.
  7. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk in three additions, beating after each addition.
  8. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Fold carefully into batter.
  9. Divide batter among three 9 inch cake pans sprayed with baking spray. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool in pans completely before assembling trifle, alternating three times between layers of cake and frosting. Sprinkle top with coconut.

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 18 ounces evaporated milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sweetened, shredded coconut, packed
  • 2 cups chopped pecans

Frosting Directions:

  1. Beat together egg yolks and evaporated milk in a large saucepan.
  2. Stir in sugar, butter, and vanilla extract.
  3. Stir over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until golden in color and bubbly.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans.
  5. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature for two hours before assembling trifle.

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