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German chocolate cake on a white plate, with silver forks scattered around.

German Chocolate Cake with Bourbon

Heather Smoke
Rich and moist dark chocolate cake, filled with pecan coconut caramel frosting that's spiked with a little bourbon.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 15



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (Rodelle)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole sour cream, room temperature
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted

Caramel Frosting

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 egg yolks (save the whites for another use)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp good quality bourbon, whiskey or rum (optional)
  • ½ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)



  • Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (Sifting is important to get all the lumps out of the flour and cocoa powder.)
  • Add the eggs, buttermilk, sour cream, oil, vanilla and melted chocolate, and whisk well until combined and smooth.
  • Divide the batter between the pans. Bake on the center oven rack for about 25-27 minutes, until the center springs back and a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Set the pans on wire racks, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely.


  • In a saucepan, whisk together the cream, brown sugar and egg yolks.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture gets thick and bubbly. Remove from the heat.
  • Whisk in the butter until melted, and stir in the pecans, coconut, vanilla, rum and salt.
  • Set aside to cool completely to room temperature.
  • Once the cake and frosting is cool, stack and fill the cake with the frosting, leaving the sides of the cake naked.


Leftover cake should be stored in an airtight container or cake carrier, at room temperature, for up to 3 days.
Keyword bourbon, Cake, Caramel, German chocolate, High Altitude