David Lebovitz’s German Chocolate Cake

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from David Lebovitz
One big, tall 9-inch cake; about 16 servings

For the cake:
2 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 tbsp water
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cup + ¼ cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 oz butter, cut into small pieces
½ tsp salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted

For the syrup:
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
2 tbsp dark rum

For the chocolate icing:
8 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 ½ oz unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line them with parchment or wax paper.

Using a double-boiler (to make a homemade one, put a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water) or the microwave (if you have one) melt together the unsweetened and semi-sweet chocolate with 6 tbsp water.  Stir until smooth and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Use an electric mixer to beat the butter with 1 ¼ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy (this will take 5-7  minutes).  Next, add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until incorporated.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Then, mix half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture.  Next, add the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, then the rest of the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft, droopy peaks. Beat in the ¼ cup of sugar until stiff.  Fold about one-third of the egg white mixture into the cake batter (this will lighten the batter), then fold in the remaining egg whites.  When you’re done, there should be no trace of egg white visible.

Finally, divide batter into the prepared cake pans, smooth the tops with a spatula, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake layers completely.

While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup, and icing.

To make the filling:

Put the 3 ounces butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.  In a medium saucepan, mix cream, sugar, and egg yolks.  Heat the mixture, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly, until it begins to thicken and will coat the back of a spoon.  An instant-read thermometer will read 170 degrees, but if you don’t have one, don’t worry!  You’ll be able to tell when it’s ready.  When it is, pour the hot custard into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken as it cools.)

To make the syrup:

In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.  The mixture won’t be very thick, don’t worry.

To make the icing:

Place the 8 ounces of chopped semi-sweet chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ oz of butter.

In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Let sit until room temperature.  If your kitchen is hot, you may want to stick it in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use it.

To assemble the cake:

Carefully remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrated bread knife.  Set the first cake layer on a plate.  Brush well with syrup, then spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top.  Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, and spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.  Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.  If the frosting gets too soft to work with, put it in the freezer for a few minutes.

According to David: “It may seem like a lot of chocolate icing, but use it all. Trust me. You won’t be sorry.”  Well, it IS a lot of frosting, but it’s definitely worth it to use it all.

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