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The Old Hen B&B closed May 31, 2014. We recommend The Roaring River B&B 425.888.4834 and The Log Cabin B&B 425.533.8278 for your North Bend get-away. Please stay tuned for Deanna's cookbook plans. Here's to starting from scratch. Talking about The Old Hen online? Our hashtag is #theoldhen .

German Chocolate Cake


There is something quite perfect about an imperfect cake. Especially a German Chocolate Cake. I’m a sucker for dark chocolate, so I make mine with dark cocoa powder rather than traditional German chocolate.

The magic of the German Chocolate Cake for this girl, though, is the penuche topping. It’s rich, creamy, and nutty. Absolutely dreamy. I can still see it on top of my great aunt & uncle’s bar glowing on top of a 9X13 pan of chocolate cake. All messy and perfect and messy.


It is best to make penuche a day in advance and refrigerate overnight… or you can serve right away and have it running down the sides like this. I guarantee no one will complain either way.

Penuche Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, lightly toasted
  • 1 -14 ounce bag shredded sweetened coconut

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add heavy cream, egg yolks, sugars, vanilla, & salt. Whisk well. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes or until thickened. Watch closely. Stir in pecans and coconut. Allow to cool to room temperature and then save in refrigerator until cake is ready.

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place dry ingredients into mixer. Place eggs, buttermilk, oil, sour cream and vanilla in a container and beat together well. Mix beaten wet ingredients with dry ingredients. Mix in hot water on low speed.  Scrape down edges of bowl to be sure to incorporate all ingredients into batter. Mix on medium speed for a couple minutes.

Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans by coating with butter or shortening (making sure to cover all of the inside edges) and then coat with a thin layer of flour. Remove excess flour from pans.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until a fork poked in comes out clean or carefully touch top quickly and see if cake springs back up. If it does, it is ready.

Allow cakes to cool completely. If baking cakes ahead of time, you can wrap well in plastic wrap and freeze until ready to use. This often makes for a very moist cake. This recipe, however, is very moist without freezing as long as you remove it from oven at just the right time.

After everything has cooled, place one cake on a cake plate. Spread a layer of penuche on top of cake. Add second cake layer. Spread penuche over top layer. Entire cake can be iced with penuche or you can just put it on layers.

If cake was just removed from freezer, just allow to thaw before serving.

You can also bake your cake batter in a 9X13 baking pan and top with penuche. this way is perfect for a potluck.

Extra penuche can be saved for cupcakes, chocolate ice cream sundaes, and other treats. After all, one can never be too magical or too messy.

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© Deanna Morauski 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
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