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Last updated on June 20th, 2024 at 04:09 pm

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German Chocolate Poke Cake [Video]

German Chocolate Poke Cake is very easy to make. It has an incredibly fudgy and tender texture and is topped with a sweet coconut mixture and chocolate whipped cream.

This is a beautiful twist on one of my favorite cakes. It turns a delicious but intricate chocolate cake into a dessert that anyone can make. As a baker, I want to ensure my readers can easily follow my recipes. I know that many people prefer to avoid making layer cakes, so I came up with the idea of simplifying this classic dessert but not cutting on flavors and textures. This is one of the best cakes I have ever had.

German Chocolate Poke Cake is the ultimate, most amazing, chocolaty cake that you have to try. Seriously, this cake is outstanding, with an incredibly fudgy and chocolaty texture, almost like a giant truffle that melts in your mouth.

Poke Cakes are very popular on my blog because they are so easy to make, look stunning and taste delicious. Having already so many, like this Strawberry Poke Cake, and Baileys Poke Cake, it only made sense to add this scrumptious German Chocolate Poke Cake to the collection.

The chocolate cake is topped with a thick layer of sweet, chewy coconut pecan frosting topped with fluffy chocolate ganache and whipped cream topping, it is just a mouthwatering masterpiece.  This show stopper dessert is a chocolate lover dream come true, and while it involves a few steps, they are easy to follow.

There are several steps here. But it is certainly worth it. The layers make every bite a complex burst of flavors from milk chocolate, cream, coconut, vanilla, nuts, whipped cream, and cocoa powder. There is so much going on there. And the way it is all put together and blended, the flavors complement each other perfectly.

I love to serve this as a special treat, like at birthday parties or holidays. But sometimes, I just make it as a dessert for family dinner because it is so delicious and not difficult to make. My family really loves it, too, especially when I serve it with vanilla ice cream.

Why you will love this recipe 

  • It is a gorgeous cake: It looks like you bought it from a fancy bakery.
  • There are so many flavors: Chocolate, coconut, pecans, ganache, whipped cream, this cake has it all.
  • Easy to make: Looks fancy but it is actually easy to make.
  • Moist and delicious: You cannot make this a dry cake even if you tried.

What you’ll need to make German chocolate poke cake

Special items:

  • Baking pan – 9×13-inch baking pan.
  • Bowls – Many different sizes for different jobs.
  • Stang mixer – For mixing the ingredients.
  • Wooden spoon – To mix and poke holes.
  • Food processor – For grinding the nuts.
  • Piping bag – With a star tip for decorating the cake.
  • Fine mesh strainer – To strain the coconut mixture.

The ingredients for German chocolate poke cake

For the cake:

  • Flour – I use all-purpose flour for this recipe.
  • Sugar – White granulated sugar has the best texture and taste.
  • Cocoa powder – The highest-quality unsweetened cocoa powder you can get.
  • Baking powder – Not baking soda.
  • Milk – It is best to use whole milk. Not skim or two percent.
  • Salt – Kosher salt has a nice clean taste with no additives, perfect for this recipe.
  • Vegetable oil – I prefer canola oil for a nice light taste.
  • Vanilla – Only 100% pure vanilla extract tastes right with no aftertaste.
  • Eggs – You need large eggs at room temperature.
  • Water – Hot water is what you need to blend it all together.

For the chocolate mixture:

  • Sweetened condensed milk – To mix with the chocolate chips for a thick chocolatey sauce.
  • Semisweet chocolate chips – Makes a thick chocolate sauce to pour into the holes.

For the coconut pecan frosting:

  • Sweetened condensed milk – For making a sweet and thick frosting.
  • Heavy cream – Adds a rich thickness to the frosting. 
  • Egg yolks – Also gives the frosting a richer flavor.
  • Brown sugar – You want light brown sugar packed for extra flavor.
  • Butter – Unsalted butter diced into small pieces.
  • Vanilla – Also here you want 100% pure vanilla extract.
  • Coconut – Be sure to get sweetened shredded coconut flakes.
  • Pecans – Ground pecans.

For the chocolate ganache:

  • Heavy whipping cream – For a thick and rich chocolate ganache.
  • Semisweet chocolate – Chopped up in small chunks.
  • Light corn syrup – To blend into the frosting.

For the chocolate whipped cream topping:

  • Heavy whipping cream – It should be cold so keep it in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Powdered sugar – Confectioners’ sugar or frosting sugar.
  • Cocoa powder – Be sure to get the highest quality unsweetened cocoa powder you can.
  • Vanilla – 100% pure vanilla extract has the best taste.

For garnish:

  • Cocoa powder – Get the highest quality unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • Chocolate sauce – Store-bought sauce is what I used.

How to make German chocolate poke cake?

  1. Prepare everything: First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the rack in the middle. Spray the cake pan with non-stick baking spray and set it aside.
  2. Mix the cake: Then, add the dry ingredients to the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk on low. Then, add wet ingredients in another bowl and whisk until combined. Pour them into the dry ingredients and beat on medium until mixed well. Add hot water and mix on low speed, scraping the sides and bottom as needed.
  3. Bake the cake: Now, pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs. Remove it from the oven and poke holes one inch apart all over the cake. I used the bottom of my wooden spoon.
  4. Make and spread the chocolate mixture: Next, add condensed milk and chocolate chips to a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave for one minute. Stir. If needed, heat for another 30 seconds. Whisk until fully melted and mixed, and then pour it all over the cake, spreading it into the holes.
  5. Make and spread the coconut pecan frosting: After, finely grind the pecans in a food processor. Then, put them in a large bowl with the coconut and set it aside. Combine the brown sugar, egg yolks, cream, and butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat while stirring. Let it boil for 10 to 15 minutes while stirring constantly. Then, remove it from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl with the nuts and coconut. Add vanilla and milk and stir well. Spread on the cake.
  6. Make and spread the ganache: Heat the whipping cream in the microwave for 60 to 90 seconds to make the ganache. Then, put the chopped chocolate and corn syrup in the bowl and let it melt for one or two minutes. Stir until smooth and shiny. Heat for another 30 seconds if needed. Spread evenly on top of the cake.
  7. Finish it off: Last, add vanilla, cocoa, powdered sugar, and whipping cream to a large bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Then, put it into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe four domes per line. Finish with a dusting of cocoa powder and chocolate sauce and chill for at least eight hours before serving.

Expert tip

Why do poke cakes sink in the middle?

There are several reasons why this may happen. It could be that it was undercooked. If you take it out before it is done, it will not rise in the center. Or it will rise only to fall as soon as it cools off a bit. The outer ring of a cake cooks first, so when it settles, you will see that the middle sinks if it is not fully cooked. Also, if your oven is not cooking at the correct temperature, the cake will not be cooking right.

You may also have used too much leavening, whichever one you used. In this recipe, baking powder is used. Always measure carefully. If you use too much, it creates excess gas too fast without enough structure. Then, it deflates when it comes out of the oven. Another issue could be the door. If you open the door too early, the cake will fall. Be gentle when closing the oven as well. Some cakes are delicate.

Another problem may be in your mixing technique. Do not whip your cake batter. You do not want it so light and fluffy that it rises too quickly. Then, it will fall because it cannot handle the volume. Finally, the last thing you need to look for is the size of the pan. If the batter is too deep, it may require a longer cooking time or may even overflow the pan. It should not go past the halfway point of the pan.

Recipe variations and add-ins:

  • Other nuts: Instead of pecans, you can use walnuts, almonds, or cashews.
  • Other cake flavors: For the cake, you can change flavors to what you like, such as vanilla, strawberry, devil’s food, dark chocolate, yellow, or even lemon.
  • Caramel: If you are not in the mood for coconut, try using caramel sauce with chopped pecans.
  • Cupcakes: You can turn these into cupcakes. Pour the cake batter into cupcake pans and poke a few holes in each one after they come out.
  • Gluten-free: Use a GF cake mix to make this dessert gluten free.

Serving suggestions:

  • For a celebration dinner or holiday, serve this dessert after a meal.
  • This dessert is also fun to serve with a drizzle of caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.
  • This cake is so rich, a glass of creamy cold milk is a must have.

Frequently asked questions

Why is German chocolate cake different than regular chocolate?

The base of the German chocolate cake is a milder kind of baked chocolate and a sweeter profile because of its extra sugar. More sugar was added to the dark chocolate to make it sweeter to speed up the process of making chocolate cake. This process was designed by a baker named Sam German, where it got its name. It is not from Germany, as many people thought.

What is in the frosting on German cake?

The coconut pecan frosting is unique to the German chocolate cake. It is made of shredded coconut, chopped pecans or walnuts, thick caramel, and a gooey sweet sauce made from sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, butter, and brown sugar. It also has vanilla and egg yolks. The frosting is very thick and rich, hard to spread. It is more like a paste than a frosting; you must be careful when spreading it on. In this case, it is not as thick, so it will not be as much of a problem.

Why is my poke cake so soggy?

It could be that your holes are too close together. If you poke the holes too close together, the cake will turn out too moist and soupy. They should be about one inch apart. And make sure you poke them while the cake is still warm. Also, do not make them too large, or you will have the same problem. You do not want swimming-pool-sized holes in your cake—just about pinky-sized holes. I use the end of my wooden spoon for the perfect size.

Can I use a boxed cake mix?

If you are short on time, you can use a box of cake mix. They even sell German chocolate cake mixes. You make the cake according to the directions and then poke holes like you would with a homemade cake. Then, continue to follow the instructions in the same way. They also have German chocolate frosting at the grocery store sold by the same company, which is perfectly fine. Use the chocolate chips and condensed milk for the chocolate sauce and the chocolate ganache for the other topping. 

How to store leftovers:

  • Refrigerate: Place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. 
  • Freezing: To freeze, put the cake in a freezer-safe container. It will stay fresh for three months.   
  • Defrost: Thaw in the fridge overnight for the best flavor. 

More chocolate desserts to try:

Recipe tips:

  • It is best to make the holes in the cake when it is warm. Once it cools, it tends to crumble.
  • Make holes about an inch apart the size of your pinky finger. Use the end of a wooden spoon if you have one.
  • Do not push to the bottom; the liquid will leak out and become a big sticky mess.
  • Be sure to use high-quality cocoa powder because the chocolate is the star of this recipe.
  • Clean the knife after each cut for nice, clean slices.
  • You can make this cake ahead of time. Let it absorb the chocolate for at least eight hours before serving it.

German Chocolate Poke Cake

German Chocolate Poke Cake is very easy to make. It has an incredibly fudgy and tender texture and is topped with a sweet coconut mixture and chocolate whipped cream.

  • Prep Time50 MIN
  • Cook Time30 MIN
  • Servings 14 servings

Ingredients

  • cups all-purpose flour 228g
  • 2 cups sugar 414g
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil 120ml
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 cup hot water 240ml

Chocolate Mixture:

  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Coconut Walnut Mixture:

  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar 200grams
  • 1 stick 115grams unsalted butter, diced into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut flakes
  • 1 1/2 cup walnuts ground

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chopped
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • Chocolate Whipped Cream Topping:
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream cold
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnish:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate sauce store bought

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Spray a 9×13 inch cake pan with non-stick baking spray and set aside.
  • Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt to a large bowl and whisk until combined, or add to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on low.
  • In another medium bowl, combine milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and eggs and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  • Add the wet and dry ingredients and beat until well combined.
  • Slowly add the hot water to the batter and mix on low speed until well combined. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-32 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. I baked mine for exactly 30 minutes.
  • Remove the cake from the oven. If you don't have anything on hand, poke holes all over the cake using the end of a spatula or a large straw. Even a pen will work.

Chocolate Mixture:

  • In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk. Heat in the microwave until hot for approximately 1 minute. If needed, stir and heat for 30 seconds or more. Whisk until fully combined, smooth, and shiny.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture all over the cake and spread it into the holes.

Coconut Walnut Mixture:

  • Use a food processor to ground the walnuts finely or, if you don't have one, finely chop them: place walnuts and coconut flakes in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Combine heavy cream, egg yolks, brown sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a light boil and thickens, about 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl with the coconut and ground walnuts. Stir in the vanilla extract and condensed milk, mixing until well combined.
  • Spread the mixture evenly on top of the cake.

Chocolate Ganache:

  • Heat whipping cream in the microwave for 60-90 seconds until hot and almost boiling.
  • Place chopped chocolate and corn syrup in a bowl and pour hot whipping cream on top. Let it sit for one to two minutes, and then stir until smooth and shiny. If needed, heat for 30 more seconds.

Chocolate Whipped Cream Topping:

  • Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, cocoa, and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form and the whipped cream holds its shape.
  • Make sure the cake has completely cooled.
  • Add the Chocolate Whipped Cream to a piping bag fitted with the star tip, pipe four domes in lines, or spread the whipped cream on the cooled cake. If you choose to spread the whipped cream, you will need two cups of heavy whipping cream instead of 3.
  • Finish the cake with cocoa powder and chocolate sauce.
  • Refrigerate the cake for at least 6-8 hours before serving.
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

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Comments

(11)
Sandra

Sandra

My kids couldn't stop eating this amazing cake! Thanks so much for the recipe!

Erin | Dinners, Dishes and Dessert

Erin | Dinners, Dishes and Dessert

I need a slice of this right now, please!

Amanda

Amanda

This looks like it is going to be my new favorite dessert. I love everything about this recipe!

Beth

Beth

This cake is so decadent! I love the flavor, and I especially love how easy it is to make. It's one of my new favorites.

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