Probably most of you have heard and/or made a German Chocolate Cake. You know the kind – two layers with a coconut brown sugar filling and frosting. A very popular cake back in the 70’s, as I recall. This ISN’T one of those cakes. And I don’t know the origin of this. I’ve never seen it in any of the cookbooks that come from the cake mix craze, either years ago and recently.
A family friend gave me this recipe way back then, but bears no resemblance either in taste or appearance to the typical layer cake. Although it IS made with a cake mix. This is baked in a 9×13 pan and requires little more than mixing up the cake mix box. Cake mixes were introduced to the world in the 1960’s or 70’s. What a boon they were to the home cook. And my recollection is that nearly every homemaker was baking all varieties of cakes from the mixes. Back then it was just the standard white, chocolate, German chocolate, and marble. Later came lemon and other mixes for brownies, angel food, etc. And later yet, the ones with pudding inside. So if you can find it, use a German Chocolate mix without any additions to it. Just the plain, regular stuff. But actually, the pudding inside works just fine too.
Back then, it took a year or two before cooks began to come up with variations on cake mixes – not even mixing them up like a cake, but using them as streusel on top of fruit, or combining different ones. And it was a year or two before they introduced the frosting in a can. I never liked that stuff – way too sweet for me and cloying.
So, when my mother’s friend Mary served the cake that day (there were four of us who had a Mah Jong group back then and each time we met, the hostess served lunch and dessert), I just went crazy for this cake. It was light and flavorful, but not overly rich. No frosting. But then I’m a nut when it comes to chocolate anyway. There were some chocolate chips in it and nuts. And this elusive sprinkle on the top. It was so simple – just some cinnamon and sugar.
In years following that, my former husband and I used to go camping in the Colorado mountains (we lived in Denver then) during the summer months. This cake was a staple in the camping or picnic category for me. My daughter Dana has always loved this cake, and she makes it herself now, but for many, many years, growing up, this was her most requested cake for her birthday.
This recipe came to the forefront of my mind this week because my friend Cherrie phoned me a couple of days ago and asked, since they’re going cabin camping this weekend, if I had a different recipe for garlic bread (I do, will post at a later date) and when she mentioned needing something for dessert my mind leaped to this cake. This cake is so EASY, and I’ve yet to have anyone not like it. You can serve it with vanilla ice cream, but it’s not necessary, really.
German Chocolate Chip Cake (from a cake mix)
Recipe: From Mary Wilfert, a friend of my mother’s, about 1970.
COOK’S NOTES: Cake mixes were new in the 1970’s, so almost every dessert was made with them. Once I had this cake, it became one of our family’s favorites. In fact, my daughter Dana usually requests this cake on her birthday. I have used regular chocolate cake mix if I didn’t have the German chocolate variety.
1 pkg German chocolate cake mix
12 oz chocolate chips
1/2 c walnuts — chopped, or pecans
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (and a dash or two of nutmeg too, if you’d like)
1. Heat oven to temperature indicated on package.
2. Prepare cake mix as specified on the box. Pour into a greased & floured 9 x 12 inch cake pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts over the top of the batter. Then sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top of that. Bake as directed on cake box and set on a wire rack to cool.
3. Cake will keep in a sealed cake tin for several days, if it lasts that long.
Per Serving: 289 Calories; 14g Fat (40.4% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 43g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 189mg Sodium.