What Is German Chocolate Frosting?

G. Wiesen

German chocolate frosting is a type of icing that is typically made to accompany German chocolate cake. Despite its name, this frosting does not include chocolate, it is simply used with a cake that does include chocolate and which lends the icing its name. This is typically made by heating up evaporated milk, egg yolks, sugar, and a small amount of salt until it thickens to a proper consistency. Once thickened, shredded coconut and chopped pecans are added to the German chocolate frosting, and it is allowed to cool before being used to ice a cake.

Shredded coconut is typically an ingredient when making a topping for pandan cake.
Shredded coconut is typically an ingredient when making a topping for pandan cake.

The name for German chocolate frosting stems from its common association with German chocolate cake, which is typically made with semi-sweet chocolate and buttermilk. Although this frosting can be used with pretty much any cake, German chocolate cake is almost always topped with it, and so the connection between the two is quite strong. It can, however, also be referred to as coconut pecan frosting. Those looking for a recipe for German chocolate frosting should also look for German chocolate cake recipes, since they often include instructions for making icing.

It is quite simple for someone to make German chocolate frosting, which typically begins with evaporated milk, some egg yolks, and sugar being combined in a small pot or sauce pan. These ingredients are then stirred and heated until they begin to bubble, but not quite reaching a rolling boil. As they heat together, they begin to thicken and take on the right consistency for German chocolate frosting, which is slightly creamy and about the same color as peanut butter.

The coconut flakes and chopped pecans used in German chocolate frosting can come pre-packaged from a store, though other methods can also be used to produce them. Fresh coconut can be used and shredded or grated to produce the amount of flakes necessary, though this is a time-consuming process. Some people prefer to use whole pecans and roast them lightly in a pan or oven. These are then chopped into fairly small pieces, which can be used in the icing.

German chocolate frosting is then made by combining the coconut and pecans with the heated, thickened icing. Once stirred together thoroughly, this is allowed to cool either on a counter or in a refrigerator. The cooled and thickened frosting can then be used to easily ice a cake, which is often prepared as two or more layers.

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