German Chocolate Birthday Cake

by on April 16, 2007
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What a non-stop weekend we had! It began on Thursday, with E’s friend J. coming to stay with us for the weekend while her parents were out of town, continued Friday night with an emergency trip to the optical shop to replace E’s glasses (which the dog chewed up), followed on Saturday with an overnight trip with friends to a camp a couple of hours away, and ended Sunday with E. opening her birthday presents at home. That’s right: my “baby” is officially ten years old! Unless you have kids, it’s hard to understand how quickly those 10 years can go by. But I have to say that though I miss my baby E. a little, I really enjoy the funny, smart, and interesting person she’s becoming.

E turns ten!

Here she is in the woods at the camp we were visiting. Though it looks as if she’s costumed for a Harry Potter movie, she was actually wearing one of my shirts because she was cold.

Since we were away most of the weekend, I made E.’s birthday cake on Friday and brought it with us to share on Saturday night. I didn’t originally intend to make a German chocolate cake, but I had problems with the new cake recipe I used, and German chocolate icing hides a multitude of sins. I can’t recommend the cake recipe, but the frosting turned out delicious, and better yet, it uses no oil or margarine. That’s not to say it’s even close to fat-free—it contains coconut milk, coconut, and pecans—but at least it avoids processed oils and the evaporated milk and eggs that traditional German chocolate recipes include.

Vegan German Chocolate Cake

Vegan German Chocolate Frosting

(click for printer-friendly version)

Start with a good chocolate cake recipe. I highly recommend my Crazy Cake if you’re not concerned about fat. (Hint: you can substitute half of the oil in that recipe with apple sauce.) For a healthier cake, Beet-Chocolate Cake would taste truly decadent with this frosting.


  • 1 cup plain soymilk
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (may use lite coconut milk)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water until smooth
  • 2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans


  1. In a medium saucepan, mix the soymilk, coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla together. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Cook for one minute after it boils. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans.

  2. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes (mixture should still be warm) before spreading on cake.


Makes enough for one 2-layer 8-inch cake.

Cooking time (duration): 20 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 12

Nutrition (frosting only, per serving): 272 calories, 126 calories from fat, 14.9g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 48.1mg sodium, 137.6mg potassium, 34.5g carbohydrates, 3.2g fiber, 27.3g sugar, 2.5g protein, 6 points.

Copyright © Susan Voisin 2007. All rights reserved. Please do not repost recipes or photos to other websites.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Una June 14, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Thanks for this. My sis’s fave cake is german chocolate and was looking for a vegan version, and this one is even healthier. All the other recipes had egg yolks, and evaporated milk. I am going to use light vanilla soy, and the light coconut milk. May even try it with almond milk. I so appreciate this.


2 Erin July 18, 2010 at 9:36 pm

My lactose intolerant dad was so excited to have this frosting on the last cake made him. I only changed two things: extra vanilla, and I saved some of the pecans and scattered them on top to keep them really crunchy. It went beautifully with No Pudge Fudge mix (I used the applesauce version, but in a cake pan). God it was delicious! Going to try the beet cake next!


3 Amy-Lee July 23, 2010 at 9:52 pm

My birthday’s tomorrow and I just finished making this cake. Struggling to not eat it. Looks DELICIOUS.


4 SusanV July 23, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Happy birthday! Hope it tastes as good as it looks!


5 Bridget October 19, 2010 at 11:31 am

My mom (who isn’t vegan) loves German chocolate cake, so I’m going to make this for her…do you think I could substitute arrowroot for the cornstarch?


6 Bridget October 21, 2010 at 12:10 am

The cake was delicious! I used your crazy cake recipe. Mom loved it :)


7 Amy January 1, 2011 at 11:37 am

Thank you for this wondreful recipe! I’m throwing a New Year’s party this evening for a horde of friends who mostly aren’t vegan and plan to wow them with this cake (made as a two-layer cake). On the suggestion of someone else, I augmented the cake recipe a little by replacing the water with two cups of (arguably weak) coffee–which, combined with the sugar content, may have me climbing the walls after one bite. But my friends drink coffee more than I do, and I figure the cake comes at the end of the meal and after the champagne toast so the caffeine may be helpful. Wish I could post a photo of the finished cake…. (PS Have you heard of the “mock” coconut cake, where the coconut flakes are replaced by sauerkraut? Apparently it was a depression-era cake, when coconut was difficult to purchase. But it seems as though there would be health and calorie benefits by making that substitution.)


8 Anu ranga February 17, 2011 at 10:04 am

I want to try this for my husband 30th birthday. I have a son who is allergic to milk-egg and soy. So for the frosting recipe, what I can susbtitute for soy milk? I have tried rice milk and it is pretty watery. I can use a little of the coocnut milk itself?
Looking for suggestions. Love your site.


9 SusanV February 17, 2011 at 10:07 am

Coconut milk (the kind in the can) may be too rich if you use only it. You could water it down or try the kind that comes ready to drink. Almond milk would also be a good substitute. Hope your husband has a happy birthday!


10 tofer February 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I used this to top some vanilla cupcakes today and it’s absolutely wonderful. Thanks for the recipe!


11 Julie April 15, 2011 at 8:53 am

This is my favorite birthday cake and most all the frostings called for dairy, which doesn’t agree with my spouse. Now I can have my cake… and he can eat it too!


12 Cassandra July 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm

I made this cake for the family party celebrating my mom’s wedding. My non-vegetarian, non-vegan family loved it! They said it was really good. The frosting came out perfect. I made the Crazy Cake and it tasted wonderful and was moist but didn’t hold together well. I must have done something wrong… regardless, it tasted awesome! Thanks for sharing the recipes!


13 Goldibug March 22, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Thanks so much for this! My son is allergic to dairy, eggs and nuts but Hubby would love German chocolate cake for his bday. Now I can create something they both can enjoy! With omitting the pecans that is ;)


14 Kathy April 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm


When you say coconut milk, do you mean in a can, the thicker version?


15 Susan Voisin April 2, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Yes, the kind in a can.


16 Patricia May 20, 2012 at 6:42 am

This frosting was absolute genius! I love coconut. This was a great alternative to the vanilla/chocolate icing that I normally make for cakes. Would it work with fresh grated coconut?


17 Laura September 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Hi Susan,
Do you think this would work without the pecans? I want to make this for my birthday but I don’t like them.


18 Susan Voisin September 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Sure, you could just leave them out or use walnuts if you like them.


19 Johna November 29, 2012 at 11:43 pm

This cake is AMAZING! German Chocolate is my husband’s favorite cake so I made this yesterday for his birthday. Oh…my!!! I can’t stop eating it! We all love, love, love it! Delicious beyond words! Thank you!


20 Maighen June 27, 2013 at 11:33 pm

I know this is an old post, but I’m sooooo GLAD that I found it again! I actually made the beet-chocolate cake and your German chocolate frosting for my husband’s 25th birthday several years ago, and now I’m going to use them again (at least the cake part, but mayeb a different frosting) for my son’s 2nd birthday this October. When I made the birthday cake I didn’t tell anyone it was vegan, and I go soo many compliments on it before I revealed the truth! Everyone loved it, and since I knew how good a vegan cake could be first hand I sought out a bakery to make vegan cupcakes for my son’s first birthday, too. This time, though, I’m going to make the cake myself since we’re doing a “cardobaord construction” theme and a messy cake (since I’m no pro!) with chocolate frosting and crumbled cake to look like dirt will be perfect. Just had to share what great cake this recipe and the beet-chocolate cake one made! :)


21 Autumn February 12, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Wow! Holy cow this is super yum! The frosting is sitting on my counter cooling, I have a tummy ache from munching on it already x]. My family and I are vegans but enjoy these kind of fatty treats now and again and I’m sure this one will be an all time favorite! Thanks for creating and sharing :D
By the way! I substituted vanilla almond milk for soy milk and vanilla and it worked like a charm ;]


22 jojo February 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm

This was amazing. German Chocolate cake is my husband’s favorite and he was eating it out of the pan. I had to swat him off to make sure I had enough to cover the cake. Thank you!


23 Michele June 17, 2014 at 7:25 am

I made this for my Dad’s birthday this past Sunday; German Chocolate is his favorite flavor. It was absolutely delicious, everyone devoured it! Thanks so much for sharing. :)


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