This vegan German chocolate cake is an ultra-moist chocolate cake with a gooey caramel coconut and pecan layer topped with vegan chocolate buttercream. A very decadent and indulgent vegan chocolate cake great to celebrate any occasion!
With Christmas around the corner, I must share some decadent vegan cakes recipe for you!
How does German chocolate cake taste like?
Authentic German chocolate is originally ultra-moist and extremely sweet! It’s a decadent chocolate cake with three sweet layers, including:
- two layers of gooey caramel-like layer loaded with shredded coconut and pecan
- one layer of chocolate buttercream
So be ready for the same sweet, decadent experience with this vegan chocolate German cake recipe. A pretty sweet, indulgent chocolate cake perfect for a Christmas celebration or any special occasion!
How to make a vegan German chocolate cake?
First, start by making the chocolate cake. A German chocolate cake is an ultra-moist with a rich, sweet dark chocolate flavor. To make a double layer German chocolate cake without eggs or dairy, you will need:
- All-purpose flour – I didn’t try all-purpose gluten-free flour or other flour for this recipe. I don’t recommend substitution for healthier flour, like almond flour or coconut flour. This won’t work.
- Corn starch – this is your binder since it’s an egg-free chocolate cake. Don’t replace this with a flax egg, or the cake won’t be as moist, and moisture is the signature of a German chocolate cake!
- Sugar – white sugar or low GI cane sugar.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Soy milk – or coconut milk to keep the cake ultra-moist. Other non-dairy milk like almond milk or oat milk dry out the crumb of the cake.
- Apple cider vinegar – or lemon juice. This is used to curdle the soy milk and create vegan buttercream.
- Espresso powder – optional, but it enhances the chocolate flavor of the cake.
- Avocado oil – or any vegetable oil like canola oil.
- Hot water – NOT boiling, hot from the tap. This will enhance the moist crumb of the cake.
- Vanilla extract
Make the cake batter
First, add all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and combine with a whisk.
Then, in another bowl, combine the wet ingredients, making sure that the water you use is hot, think 50C but not boiling either, or it can ruin the cake.
Pour the wet into the dry and combine until smooth.
Bake the cake
Divide the cake batter into two cake pans of 9 inches and bake on regular made at 180C (350F) for 25-30 minutes.
Make sure you bake the cakes around the center rack if baked at the same time. If your oven is old and you are unsure about its capacity to bake two cakes at once, bake the cakes one at a time.
Leave the remaining cake at room temperature while the first one bake. You know it’s cooked when a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a little to no crumb on it.
Level up the cakes
Cool the cakes down on a cooling rack. Then, use a serrated knife to level up the cakes and obtain two flat cakes. Discard the bumpy part of the cake, or crumble and freeze and use later to decorate desserts
German chocolate cake fillings
There are two types of fillings used in a vegan German chocolate cake recipe. One tastes like gooey caramel. It’s brownish in color and full of bites of coconut and pecan nuts.
The other filling is a thick, sweet chocolate buttercream, usually used on top of the cake only, not to cover the sides. While the cakes are baking, prepare the fillings.
Coconut pecan frosting
The coconut layer in the center and top of a German chocolate cake taste like gooey caramel. It usually includes egg yolk, so here are the ingredients to make a vegan gooey caramel filling for your vegan chocolate cake:
- Vegan butter
- Brown Sugar
- Canned coconut milk – or any dairy-free milk you like. Almond milk will work well here, but coconut enhances the coconut flavor of the frosting.
- Vanilla extract
- Chopped pecans
- Shredded coconut
First, in a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and coconut milk to form a slurry mixture. Set aside. Then, bring a medium saucepan under medium heat and melt butter with brown sugar until bubbly.
Whisk in the slurry cornstarch mixture and vanilla and keep cooking until gooey like a vegan caramel sauce.
Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and pecan. Set aside to cool in a bowl.
Vegan chocolate frosting
The particularity of a German chocolate cake is the extra chocolate buttercream layer on top of the cake. An authentic German cake usually doesn’t cover the cake’s sides with the buttercream, so you only need a small batch of vegan buttercream for this recipe. The ingredients to make the best vegan German chocolate cake frosting are:
- Vegan butter
- Powdered sugar
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
To make the chocolate frosting, add the soft vegan butter into a large mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until smooth and creamy.
Assemble the cake
To assemble the cake, make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. Then place one cake layer onto a cake stand, spread half the coconut pecan frosting, and cover evenly.
Place the second layer of cake on top and slightly press, giving a gentle rotation movement to stick it to the coconut layer. Then add half of the chocolate frosting to the center of the top cake.
Next, spread the remaining coconut frosting on top of the chocolate frosting. Finally, use a piping bag to pipe the remaining chocolate frosting around the cake and decorate.
Add few raw pecan halves to decorate on top.
You must refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours before slicing, or it can be crumbly. This cake can be made ahead of up to 3 days before and stored in a sealed cake box in the fridge.
Freeze leftover cake if desired in a sealed container and thaw in the fridge the day before eating.
More vegan chocolate dessert
A vegan German chocolate cake is a little bit of work and takes a few hours before serving. If you are looking for a faster vegan chocolate dessert to indulge, I listed some below for you to try:
Made this vegan chocolate cake? Share a picture with me on Instagram.
Your friend, Carine
Vegan German Chocolate Cake
- 1 ½ cup Soy Milk
- 1 ½ tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar - or lemon juice
- 2 ¼ cup All-purpose Flour
- ¼ cup Cornstarch
- ¾ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1 ½ cup Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder - optional
- ½ cup Canola oil - or light olive oil or avocado oil
- ⅓ cup Hot water
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Coconut pecan filling
Prepare the chocolate cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease two 9-inch cake pans with oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for the milk to curdle.
- In another large mixing bowl whisk, the flour, cornstarch, unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder (if used). Set aside.
- Pour the soy milk mixture, oil, vanilla extract, and hot water into the dry ingredients and whisk or beat until the batter is combined.
- Divide the batter evenly in each cake pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few crumbs on it. Two options: place both cakes in the oven simultaneously (only if your oven temperature is well-calibrated) and bake. I personally recommend baking one cake layer at a time, a bit time-consuming, but it gives the perfect cake moisture every time. You can leave the second cake pan on the kitchen benchtop while the first cake layer is baking.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then 15 more minutes on a cooling rack.
- As the cakes cool, prepare the frostings below.
Make the coconut pecan frosting
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk cornstarch and coconut milk to form a slurry mixture.
- In a medium saucepan, add the cornstarch mixture, vegan butter, brown sugar. Bring over medium heat, occasionally whisk until the vegan butter is melted.
- Bring to a light boil and keep whisking until it thickens - about 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, chopped pecans, and shredded coconut.
- Allow complete cooling in a bowl before spreading over the cake. The mixture thickens as it cools down.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the soft vegan butter on medium speed until creamy.
- Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and almond milk.
- Beat on low speed for 30 seconds until fluffy.
- Add more almond milk for a thinner frosting or more cocoa powder for a thicker frosting, adding each 1 tablespoon at a time.
Assemble the cake
- First, level the cakes using a serrated knife. Slice the thin bumpy layer from the top of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard or store this top part to crumble onto vegan yogurt or vegan ice creams later.
- Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand.
- Evenly cover with half the coconut pecan frosting, then top with the second layer of cake.
- To decorate the cake like in my picture, spread half the vegan chocolate buttercream on top of it. Then, spread the remaining coconut pecan frosting on top, but leaving a free space of half an inch on the side. Finally, pipe the remaining vegan chocolate buttercream around to decorate.
- Decorate the top of the German cake with toasted pecan halves and extra shredded coconut.
- Refrigerate for 1-3 hours before serving. This also prevents the cake from crumbling when cut.
- Store leftover cake in the fridge in a sealed cake box for up to 5 days.