chocolate sheet cake with coconut pecan frosting

My husband and I both seriously love chocolate. For his birthday this year, he requested German chocolate cake. I also really love coconut and pecans, so I was more than happy to oblige. We were hosting a casual daytime pizza party with friends for his birthday, so instead of baking a fancy German chocolate layer cake, I thought a giant sheet cake (Texas style!) would fit the bill perfectly. This cake is so easy to throw together, you don't even need a mixer. It's super rich & chocolatey, and I love the texture it gets from the coconut & pecans! It's easy to slice and serve, and can even be eaten hands-free, brownie style! Feel free to make a more traditional German chocolate-style frosting (egg yolks & evaporated milk base), but I opted for more chocolate to accompany the coconut & pecans. You can dig in immediately while the cake and frosting are both warm, or make it ahead of time and refrigerate it until you're ready to enjoy!

German Chocolate Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups cane sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pecan & Coconut Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare a half sheet tray (13" x 18") or jelly roll pan. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. In a saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate. Add cocoa powder and whisk together until combined. Add boiling water, allowing it to simmer for about 20 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour chocolate mixture over dry ingredients, and stir lightly to cool. In a bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Add chocolate batter and mix until combined. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes (14-16 min for jelly roll pan).

While cake is baking, make the icing. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Once fully incorporated, add the pecans and coconut. Pour the frosting mixture over the cake immediately after it comes out of the oven, spreading it evenly across. Dig in immediately, or allow it to cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!

*Adapted from Chocolate Sheet Cake by The Pioneer Woman.