A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 30, 2006
German Chocolate Cake

"German chocolate cake” is from Texas?

The story is familiar to food historians. The cake’s name is from German’s chocolate, a chocolate named after Sam German. A Texas newspaper printed a recipe for the cake (using German’s chocolate) in 1957, German’s naturally promoted the recipe, and the rest is history.


Kitchen Project
Is German Chocolate Cake Really German?

In America there is a very popular cake called German Chocolate Cake. It is not German at all (Nicht Deutcher),

But it has an interesting history. A recipe for “German’s Chocolate Cake” first appeared in a Dallas, Texas newspaper in 1957. That it was sent in by a Dallas homemaker is all we know, according to Patricia Riso, a spokeswomen for Kraft foods . It used a brand of chocolate bar called “German’s” which had been developed in 1852, by an Englishman named Sam German, for Baker’s Chocolate Company. The cake had an immediate and enthusiastic response, and requests about where to find the German’s chocolate bar were so numerous that General Foods (who owned Baker’s Chocolate) decided to send pictures of the cake to newspapers all around the country. Everywhere the recipe had the same response and the sales for the chocolate exploded. Now the cake is a regular item in bakeries across the country, and a mix is on the grocery shelves also. It was my favorite cake when I was growing up and I requested it for my birthday every year.

The cake most likely didn’t originate from this Dallas housewife. Buttermilk chocolate cakes have been popular in the south for over 70 years, and Pecans are plentiful in the area also, to make the nice frosting. German’s chocolate is similar to a milk chocolate and sweeter than regular baking chocolate.

German Culture
German cooking is famous for its complexity and extravagance in choosing the ingredients. Therefore such a rich dish as German Chocolate Cake might perfectly fit into German cuisine. Yet it was not brought (as is sometimes reported) to the American Midwest by German immigrants. The cake took its name from an American with the last name of “German.” In 1852, Sam German created the mild dark baking chocolate bar for Baker’s Chocolate Co. The product was named in his honor - “Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate.” In most recipes and products today, the apostrophe and the “s” have been dropped, thus giving the false hint as for the chocolate’s origin.

The first published recipe for German’s chocolate cake showed up in a Dallas newspaper in 1957 and came from a Texas homemaker. The cake quickly gained popularity and its recipe together with the mouth-watering photos were spread all over the country. America fell in love with German Chocolate cake. No wonder: its superb chocolate taste conquers you at first bite! 

8 November 1935, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 12:
German Chocolate Cake
Three cups flour, 3/4 cup cornstarch, 5 teaspoons baking powder, 1 cup cane sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 pound butter 1 1/2 cup milk or cream, 5 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 tablespoons cocoa.

Cream butter, sugar and egg yolks for 10 minutes. Sift flour, cornstarch and baking powder together and add slowly to the beaten ingredients. Add the milk, salt and vanilla and mix well. Beat in the stiff whipped whites of the eggs. Fill three greased cake tins with the mixture and add 2 tablespoons of cocoa and 1/2 cup of sugar to the remainder. This will fill two cake tins, giving you three white layers and three chocolate layers. Bake 10 minutes in a moderate oven.

Icing
One cup pineapple preserves; 1/4 pound of cocoa or chocolate, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 cup cane sugar, 1/2 cup butter.

Melt the butter in a dish over boiling water. Mix in the chocolate and the sugar.

In icing the cake, alternate the white and chocolate layers. Between each layer spread a layer of the icing topped with a layer of pineapple preserves. Garnish the top of the cake with a star made of pineapple preserves.

Memorial Book and Recipes 1957
Compiled January 1957
by Mrs. Marie Baca
Czech Catholic Home for the Aged, Inc.
Hilljo, Texas
Pg. 183:
German Chocolate Cake
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter or crisco
4 eggs, separated, whip whites and fold in last
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 whole German chocolate bar melted in 2 tablespoons water

Melt chocolate in water, mix sugar, butter and egg yolks and add the cooled chocolate. Add the dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites last.

Filling:
1 box powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons of chocolate or cocoa (dry)
4 tablespoons black coffee
If too stiff, add black coffee to make of spreading consistency.
Mrs. Christine Bartosh, Granger, Texas.

12 April 1957, Commerce (TX) Daily Journal, pg. 2, col. 3:
Cafeteria Lists
Four-Day Menus
Menus at the Commerce public school cafeteria for the week April 15-18 have been announced as follows:
(...)
Thursday
(...)
German Chocolate Cake

(Trademark)
Word Mark GERMAN’S
Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: Sweet Chocolate. FIRST USE: 19100100. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19100100
Mark Drawing Code (5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM
Design Search Code
Serial Number 71133515
Filing Date June 10, 1920
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0144544
Registration Date July 12, 1921
Owner (REGISTRANT) Walter Baker & Company, Ltd. CORPORATION MASSACHUSETTS PIERCE SQUARE Dorchester, Boston MASSACHUSETTS
(LAST LISTED OWNER) KRAFT FOODS HOLDINGS INC CORPORATION BY ASSIGNMENT DELAWARE THREE LAKES DR NORTHFIELD ILLINOIS 60093
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record SUSAN H FROHLING
Prior Registrations 0044429
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECTION 8(10-YR) 20011101.
Renewal 3RD RENEWAL 20011101
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Sunday, July 30, 2006 • Permalink


I love chocolate cakes, especially the moist and bittersweet ones. I will try both recipes above for German Chocolate Cake. If they will give me moist chocolatey chocolate cake, I will replace my chocolate cake recipe.

Posted by Shine  on  01/04  at  11:29 AM

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