Difference Between German Chocolate Cakes & Chocolate Cakes

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German Chocolate Cake became a nationwide hit after the recipe was published in a 1957 Dallas newspaper.
German Chocolate Cake became a nationwide hit after the recipe was published in a 1957 Dallas newspaper. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Although the exact origin of the German Chocolate Cake recipe is unknown, German's chocolate was created in 1852 by American Samuel German, paving the way for the cake's probable creation during the 1920s. Contrary to what the name may suggest, the German Chocolate Cake has no ties to Germany and is an American-born recipe. The differences between German Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Cake are subtle.

German Chocolate Ingredients

German Chocolate is considered to be sweeter than semi-sweet chocolate, and contains a mixture of chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, various flavorings and lecithin, which is fat from egg yokes. Samuel German developed this chocolate as a way to streamline the baking process for bakers by mixing the chocolate and sugar together.

Bitter and Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Regular chocolate is either cacao, which is a bitter, sugar-free chocolate used strictly in baking, or semi-sweet, low-sugar chocolate that can either be eaten by itself or combined in a baking recipe.

Building A German Chocolate Cake

While the standard chocolate cake is chocolate through and through, with icing on top and sides, the German Chocolate Cake takes it up a notch with layers of caramel flavored icing between three layers of chocolate cake -- making for a very moist cake. Along with its layers, the sides of the cake are left open to reveal these different layers.

Additional Ingredients

If you go nuts for German Chocolate Cake, add nuts such as pecans into the cake's frosting layers for a little crunch and to balance the sweetness with a trace of salt. You may also add caramelized fruit such as strawberries or peaches to the frosting layers to add another dynamic to the cake's texture. Finally, flakes of coconut can be mixed in with the cake batter.

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