This German Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe is a thin, fudgy, ultra-moist slice of decadent heaven topped with the buttery, nutty, toasty crunch of pecans and coconut in a crazy-easy, crackly warm glaze.
Based on a classic Buttermilk Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake that’s been a proven winner since the 50’s, this jelly-roll pan sized cake is perfect for every birthday or potluck. And did I mention it’s topped with a drizzly glaze that soaks delightfully into the cake crumb and is loaded with toasted coconut and crunchy pecans?
Old Fashioned Texas Sheet Cake has been a family favorite, much requested, and has been shared at many gatherings and birthdays since my Great Aunt Rita introduced it to us years ago. Ridiculously easy, this all-the-way-from-scratch cake is a thin slice of heaven.
What makes German Chocolate Sheet Cake so scrumptiously incredible?
- The hot, drizzly glaze unlike any you have ever had before.
- Toasted coconut and pecans
How to make German Chocolate Sheet Cake
Start by toasting pecans and sweetened coconut flakes on a large baking sheet for 10 minutes until they are golden and fragrant.
Combine butter, water, and unsweetened cocoa powder in a small sauce pan. Bring it to a boil, whisk, and then let it cool for a few minutes off the heat.
A few notes about cocoa: Which one do I choose?
This recipe calls for unsweetened, natural cocoa powder, which is the most common. If you prefer the taste of dark chocolate, that can be found in dutch processed cocoa. What is dutch processed or dark cocoa you might ask? The difference is in the amount of acidity in the cocoa and how it is processed. Dutch processed has been washed in a potassium solution that neutralizes some of the acidity and give it the stunning dark color and depth of flavor. Think oreos. For more details between the two, check out this article by Joy the Baker or for more technical detail, the one by Cook’s Illustrated. I bring up the types of cocoa powder because natural cocoa powder needs baking soda to rise properly, while Dutch processed dark cocoa needs baking powder due to their acidity levels.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift or whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and a smidge of cinnamon.
Add the hot cocoa mixture to the dry ingredients, stir, and then add lightly beaten eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir everything together and pour into a buttered or greased 18″ x 13″ cookie sheet, sometimes called a jelly-roll pan, to bake.
If your oven racks do not sit perfectly level, this very thin cake is the recipe that it will be noticed in. I used a cast iron trivet to slightly lift an edge of the baking sheet so that the cake would cook evenly and be the same thickness throughout.
While the cake cooks, and it only takes about 15-20 minutes, use the same sauce pan as before to make the glaze. Bring to a boil more butter, cocoa powder, and buttermilk. Remove from the heat and whisk in vanilla, powdered sugar, and the toasted, chopped pecans and coconut RESERVING 1/4 cup of each to sprinkle on the top of the glaze.
Pour the hot glaze over the warm cake and use the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula to spread it out. Then top with the reserved coconut and pecans.
Serve the cake slightly warm or cool it until the glaze crackles. A scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or a dab of whipped cream can be delightful accompaniments.
A few of my other favorite desserts:
- Buttermilk Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake
- The Best Cherry Pie Recipe with Homemade Filling
- Cherry Almond Pie Bars
- Easy Carrot Sheet Cake Recipe from Scratch
- Guinness Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Irish Cream Cream Cheese Frosting
- Blueberry Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake
If you’ve tried my German Chocolate Sheet Cake or any other recipe on this website, please don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how it came out in the comments below. I’d LOVE to hear from you!
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German Chocolate Sheet Cake Recipe
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup water
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Coconut Pecan Glaze
- 1 cup pecan halves or pieces
- 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 6 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread the pecans and sweetened coconut out on a 18" x 13" baking sheet and cook for 8-10 minutes until fragrant and golden.
- Combine the butter, water, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan on a medium heat until until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.
- Stir the hot butter and cocoa mixture into to the dry ingredients.
- Add the lightly beaten eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla and stir until combined.
- Butter the 18" x 13" sheet pan and pour in the batter, spreading to the edges for a consistent thickness.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, bring to a boil the butter, cocoa, and buttermilk for the glaze in the saucepan used earlier on a medium heat. Remove from heat after it reaches a boil.
- Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and whisk to combine.
- Stir the toasted pecans and coconut into the glaze, EXCLUDING 1/4 cup of each to be sprinkled on top.
- When the cake is finished baking, remove from the oven and pour the hot glaze onto the hot cake, using the back of a spoon or a spatula to spread to the edges of the cake.
- Sprinkle the reserved pecans and coconut on top of the glazed cake.
- A slightly smaller cookie sheet may be used, but the bake time may be a few minutes longer, as the cake will be thicker.
- Standard, unsweetened baking cocoa may be substituted, but use 1 teaspoon of baking soda in place of the baking powder.