Do You Know What German’s Sweet Chocolate Is?

March 18, 2024

If you’ve ever made a then you’ve likely encountered an ingredient list with German’s Sweet Chocolate baking bars on it. Or maybe you’ve stumbled upon the chocolate in the baking aisle alongside all the other bars, noticing its signature green box from Baker’s brand. 

No, it’s not a Bavarian import, but rather an American-made product (Baker’s is owned by the Kraft Heinz Company) that predates the aforementioned cake, but is inextricably tied to the thanks to a Dallas resident (or two).

Find out more about this specific type of baking chocolate and what makes it different from other baking bars like semisweet or bittersweet.

What Is German’s Sweet Chocolate?

Created by Samuel German in 1852, and named after him, it’s a sweetened, dark chocolate baking bar. It contains more sugar than its semisweet or bittersweet counterparts, and was developed as a shortcut for bakers that premixed chocolate with sugar.

German started as a coachman for Walter Baker, owner of the Massachusetts-based chocolate company, but later became a chocolate mill worker. His recipe was , and based on , was initially sold as German Sweet Chocolate. Today, the bars are labeled German’s Sweet Chocolate.

Where Did German Chocolate Cake Come From?

The first published recipe for this cake appeared in 1956, in the Dallas newspaper The Irving News Record. It was titled and was submitted by Daisy Pearce. Her mid-century recipe uses Crisco, not butter, as well as one package of German’s Sweet Chocolate. The icing is a cooked blend of coconut and pecans, held together with sugar, egg yolks, butter, and Pet evaporated milk.

In 1957, another version of the cake appeared in the . This recipe, submitted by Mrs. George Clay of Southeast Dallas, appeared in the paper’s “Recipe of the Day” column, and it was soon picked up by other newspapers and gained popularity—as did Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate bars. According to , sales of the chocolate increased 73 percent in one year.

This recipe was later part of a Baker’s recipe booklet and even appeared on the back of the German’s Sweet Chocolate box (it still appears on some boxes, alongside fun riffs like German chocolate cupcakes).

Jen Davick

Both of these historic recipes not only used German’s Sweet Chocolate, but also , a Southern staple that hints at the cake’s origins. (The in the frosting are another clue.) But if you’ve been fooled and believed the cake originated in Europe, don’t worry you are hardly the only one. 

In fact,The Dallas Morning News reported that President Lyndon B. Johnson served the cake to German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard at his Johnson City ranch, likely not realizing the cake had nothing to do with the Chancellor’s home country. Or perhaps he was just proud to share a recipe from his home state of Texas, we don’t entirely know.

Our German Chocolate Cake Recipes

Today, many modern recipes have swapped German’s Sweet Chocolate for cocoa powder or semisweet bars, but Southern Living sticks with the namesake ingredient. Other recipes might add a chocolate buttercream, but we stand by using the classic coconut-pecan frosting instead.

We actually have not one but two versions of the Southern cake. stays fairly traditional, using two packages of the German’s Sweet Chocolate, plus buttermilk. Our simple plays with the classic formula slightly. It still uses the same chocolate and buttermilk but adds hot coffee to help intensify the chocolate flavor.

No matter which you choose to bake, they both use the same decadent . It may not be the prettiest frosting out there, but don’t judge it by its looks. Just wait until you taste it. If you’re looking for other ways to try this Southern flavor-combo, give our or a go.

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