In preparation for my husband’s birthday last week I handed him one of my favorite cookbooks, Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes, and told him to pick any cake he wanted and I would make it for him. He flipped through it, inspecting all of the beautiful glossy photos and narrowed the list down to a handful that stuck out.

It took him a few days to select the one he wanted (I don’t blame him, it’s a hard decision when faced with so many tasty options!) and finally chose this chocolate cola cake with toasted coconut and pecan icing. It’s a long title, but you can think of it as a variation on german chocolate cake.



The chocolate cake is very moist and flavored with cola soda. My husband is a huge Dr. Pepper fan so it seemed fitting that I would use it. The cake is great, but it’s the icing that’s the real star. Sweetened condensed milk is baked in the oven until it caramelizes and turns golden brown (you’ve likely heard of making dulce de leche this way). Add to that toasted pecans and shaved coconut and you have heaven on a spoon.


Not only did this cake please the birthday boy, but the baker as well. I licked every bowl, spoon, and spatula clean.

And look how stunning it is! The icing is just firm enough to not make a big puddled mess, but soft enough to instead elegantly drip down each layer. It’s not too much of a stretch from the truth to say that the more the icing dripped, the more I had to make sure I didn’t have drool dripping down my chin.


As far as layer cakes go, this one is relatively easy to make thanks to the icing. There’s no fussing over crumb coats and getting the frosting smooth. It does take some considerable time to caramelize the sweetened condensed milk, but believe me it is well worth the effort. I made it first and let it chill while I baked the cake.

Whether you’ve got a birthday coming up or not, this is a chocolate cake you’ve got to try. It’s sure to impress the eyes and your taste buds!


You may enjoy these other chocolate layer cakes:

Cherry Chocolate Cake with Cherry Vanilla Buttercream by Completely Delicious
Chocolate Stout Cake with Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Buttercream by Love and Olive Oil
Dark Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream and Ganache Drizzle by Sweetapolita
Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake by Annie’s Eats

Chocolate Cola Cake with Toasted Coconut and Pecan Icing

Yield: One 3-layer 8-inch cake

Chocolate Cola Cake with Toasted Coconut and Pecan Icing

A moist chocolate cake sweetened with Dr. Pepper and covered in a gooey toasted coconut and pecan icing.


    For the cake:
  • 1 1/2 ounces (44 grams) unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup (5 1/2 fluid ounces) buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (14 1/4 fluid ounces) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups (420 grams) sugar
  • 2 3/4 cup (332 grams) cake flour
  • 1/2 cup (57 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup (5 1/2 fluid ounces) Cherry Coke or Dr. Pepper
  • For the icing:
  • 2 14 ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup (112 grams) pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup (95 grams) sweetened shaved coconut


  1. To make the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper, then dust the pans with flour.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate and buttermilk in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir frequently until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, do not let the buttermilk boil or it will curdle. Set it aside to cool slightly.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whisk the eggs lightly. Add the oil and vanilla and mix until combined. While mixing on low speed, gradually add the sugar. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and mix until incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add to the mixer in 3 additions, alternating with the soda, and ending with the dry ingredients.
  5. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the icing, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On an ungreased sheet pan, spread the shaved coconut and chopped pecans side-by-side. Toast in the oven until coconut just starts to turn golden brown, stirring coconut once, about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a glass baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Place the baking dish inside another larger baking dish. Fill the pan with water to reach halfway up the side of the smaller pan.
  8. Bake for 2 hours, stirring once or twice, until the milk is a caramel color. Carefully remove the dish from the water bath and remove the foil. Transfer the caramelized milk to a bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in the toasted pecans and coconut. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface, and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.
  9. To build the cake, place one cake layer on a platter or cake stand and spoon 1/3 of the icing on top. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and icing, allowing the icing to drip down the sides. Place in the fridge for at least one hour to set before serving.
  10. Store the cake in the fridge, covering with plastic wrap, for up to three days.

Adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes.

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17 Responses to Chocolate Cola Cake with Toasted Coconut and Pecan Icing

  1. Maria says:

    Perfect for a birthday celebration. I hope your husband had a great birthday!

  2. Alicia says:

    That looks AMAZING. Scott wants me to make it for him.

  3. JenC says:

    Oh Yum. German chocolate cake is my fav and my bday is just weeks away…looks like I’m making my cake this year, again. But who cares when this is the end result!

  4. What a fabulous cake. We must be on the same wave length. I posted chocolate cake today too.

  5. This is *gorgeous*–great photos and a beautiful presentation, even if it is supposed to be artfully drippy. ;)

    I’m sure it tasted just as good!!

  6. Deborah says:

    That cake is stunning!! I’m a huge German chocolate fan, and that icing is amazing!

  7. beti says:

    honestly this is another level, I’m impressed with this mouth watering cake

  8. Simply Tia says:

    Somebody hold me and pinch me!! This cake looks out of this world gorgeous! Saving this for the days I need to really impress someone. Looks fabulous and I bet it tastes even better. Bravo! Well done.

  9. Kalyn says:

    Gorgeous! Of course this would not be on my diet, but the truth is I couldn’t make a cake this beautiful if my life depended on it! Hope he had a nice birthday.

  10. OK, you are going to have to remind me… why did I start a diet?
    This cake looks so good and the icing sounds amazing. My husband is a Pepper, too. He’s going to love your twist on this cake.

  11. Priya says:

    Incredible cake, simply makes me drool..

  12. Erika Beth says:

    Yum! Dr. Pepper in a cake! And while I know that would make the cake good, I can tell that icing is the winner like you said.

  13. Wow! Your husband is a very lucky man. This cake looks beyond-wonderful and I can’t blame you for licking every utensil that touched that icing.

  14. Lordy, lordy girl, this looks amazing. Will you do the same for me on my birthday? :)

  15. That is the most delicious looking cake I have seen in a long time! Bookmarked this recipe for the weekend! Might try it in cupcake form…thoughts?
    Thanks so much for sharing! If you ever get a chance, I would love some feedback on my ‘fairly new’ blog It’s still in the works, but could use all the constructive criticism I can get.

    Thanks – Angela : )

    • Annalise says:

      I’m sure you could adapt the recipe for cupcakes. I couldn’t say for sure how many the recipe would make, probably a lot. And then I’d just spoon some icing on top like you would with buttercream, though it will probably want to run down the sides.

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