German Chocolate Cake with Pecan Bark

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1 pkg.  (4 oz.) BAKER’S GERMAN’S Sweet Chocolate

1/2 cup  water

4 eggs, separated and room temperature
2 cups  flour
1 tsp.  baking soda
1/4 tsp.  salt
1 cup  butter, room temperature
2 cups  sugar
1 tsp.  pure vanilla
1 cup  buttermilk

PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

LINE bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round pans with parchment paper; spray sides with cooking spray. Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. You may also melt chocolate over a double boiler.

Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; set aside. Mix flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.

ADD egg whites; stir gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.

BAKE 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans. Cool cakes in pans 15 min.; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Spread Coconut-Pecan Filling  between cake layers and onto top of cake. Set aside.

Coconut Pecan Frosting

1-12oz. can evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup butter

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

5 egg yolks

2 2/3 cups toasted coconut

1 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat , stirring constantly. Do not allow to boil. Remove from heat when thickened. Stir in toasted coconut and nuts. Set aside to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Frosting

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate

1 2/3 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons Praline Pecan Liqueur

Break the chocolate into pieces and process in the bowl of a food processor until very fine. Heat cream to boiling point and slowly pour into food processor bowl with moor running into the chocolate. Process until smooth. Gently stir in the butter and the Praline Pecan Liqueur. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool for several hours on the counter. It’s ready when the mixture is thick enough to pipe and spread on cake .

Pecan Bark

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate

1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans, 1 cup reserved

Melt and temper the chocolate. Pour onto parchment paper and sprinkle 3/4 of a cup chopped pecans over the top. Allow to set up. Break into random sizes for garnish on cake.

Assembly

After the cake has been filled with the coconut pecan filling, frost the sides of the cake with the dark chocolate frosting. Place the remaining frosting in a piping bag fitted with a star or plain tip and pipe rosettes evenly around the top of the cake edge. Garnish the top with the Pecan Bark and press the 1 cup of reserved pecans around the bottom of the cake.

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