Although German chocolate cake isn't one of my favorites, I thought this would be fun to try for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, even though the cake looks good, I realized after eating it that something wasn't quite right with the German chocolate cakes. It took me a while to figure it out, but finally, on Saturday, I realized that I had left out the baking soda, baking powder, and small amount of salt. My dad still liked the cake and the Junior's cheesecake itself was still delicious. It actually is probably a good thing something was wrong with it, or else I would have eaten a lot more of it!
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese (use only full fat), at room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Early in the day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the springform tightly with foil, covering the bottom and all the way up the sides.
Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, and the cornstarch in the bowl of a stand mixer (I just used a large mixing bowl and a hand mixer) and beat on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping after each. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the cream just until completely blended.
Gently spoon the batter into the prepared springform and place in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1″ up the sides of the springform. (Click here to see illustration.) Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 1/4 hours until the edges are light golden brown and the top is slightly golden tan, looking set and no longer wet. Remove the cake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and cool in the pan for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (still in the pan) until completely cold, about 4 hours. Place in the freezer, still in the pan, for at least half an hour before assembly, or overnight if you are preparing in advance.
1 1/2 cup sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounce bar German’s sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 extra-large eggs, separated (you will use whites later)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk (NOTE: I made my own with ¾ cup less 1 tablespoon whole milk PLUS 1 tablespoon vinegar. Allow to sit 5 – 10 minutes.)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Once the cheesecake is out of the oven (make sure to remove the water bath), start the cake layers. Generously butter the sides and bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of both pans with parchment paper, but don’t let the paper come up the sides.
Sift the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt together in a small bowl. Melt the chocolate in the water in the microwave or in a small saucepan over very low heat, Set aside to cool. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl on medium speed until light yellow and creamy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each. Blend in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and blending well after each addition.
Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together in a clean bowl on high heat until stiff peaks form. Stir about 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites. Don’t worry if you still see a few specks of white, since they’ll disappear during cooking. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a moist crumb, about 30 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn them out onto the rack and gently peel off the paper liners. Let the cakes cool completely, about 2 hours, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (NOTE: I used about 2 ¼ cups of chopped pecans and didn't use the almonds and hazelnuts)
4 cups angel flake coconut, plus 1/4 C for sprinkling
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Once the cakes are out of the oven spread out all the nuts on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast at 350 degrees until golden, about 5 minutes, tossing once or twice. Set aside to cool. Toast 1/4 cup coconut the same way until golden brown and set aside for garnish.
When you are nearly ready to assemble the cake, mix the sugar and flour together in a large saucepan. Add the cream, milk, butter and vanilla, and stir until well combined. Cook and stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and turns golden brown, about 12 minutes (mine took longer). Remove from the heat and stir in the toasted nuts and untoasted coconut. Refrigerate until the frosting is thick enough to spread, about 30 minutes.
Assembling the Cake
Remove the cheesecake from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes (if frozen overnight). Place one cake layer, top side down, on a cake plate. Spread with a generous amount of frosting. Release and remove the frozen cheesecake from the ring of the springform, then release and remove from the bottom of the pan Remove springform ring. Warm the bottom of the pan on a low burner for 30 seconds, just long enough to melt the butter that was used to grease the pan. Now, slide a metal spatula between the bottom of the pan and the cheesecake (releasing the vacuum), then lift and slide the cake onto bottom German chocolate cake layer. Spread with some more frosting. Top with the remaining cake layer, top side up, and frost the top of the cake and the sides of the top cake layer only. Sprinkle the top evenly with toasted coconut. (Note: I added some pecan halves in a flower design as a decoration, as well.)
Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve (if the cheesecake was frozen overnight, it will take about 2 hours to thaw enough to easily slice). Use a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one, to cut it into slices.
Source: Junior’s Cheesecakes Cookbook, by Alan Rosen and Beth Allen, pg. 160-161.