If you’re a fan of German chocolate cake, you’re going to love these fudgy brownies topped with a gooey coconut pecan frosting. This decadent dessert has the perfect balance of flavors and textures (sweet! salty! crunchy! gooey!).
Why you’ll love this recipe
Flavor: Chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, coconut, and pecans create an incredible flavor profile.
Texture: Chewy-fudgy brownies with a gooey-crunchy topping.
Ease: Although this recipe is homemade there are no difficult steps, techniques, or fancy equipment needed.
A delicious twist on a classic: These brownies are a great alternative to German chocolate cake. They’re faster and easier than making and decorating a layer cake.
Two parts of these German chocolate brownies
- Brownies: I use a variation of our favorite homemade brownies for this recipe. I reduced the sweetness of the brownies just a bit to balance with the sweet topping. I also reduce the chocolate chips and bake them in a 9×9 pan (rather than my usual 8×8) because I wanted a thinner brownie with a *tiny* bit less chocolate to keep from overpowering the topping.
- “German chocolate cake” frosting: This is a homemade coconut-pecan topping. It’s made on the stovetop and comes together in minutes. Traditionally you’d see this type of frosting on a German chocolate cake. Tip: Using brown sugar rather than granulated sugar in the topping creates a deeper, richer flavor.
*Full recipe below in recipe card*
Begin by making the brownies. The batter comes together in one bowl, no electric mixer is needed. Pour the brownie batter into a greased 9×9 pan and bake.
Once the brownies have baked and cooled slightly (it’s ok if they’re still a little warm), proceed with the topping. Combine evaporated milk, brown sugar, butter, and egg yolks in a saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened, stir in the coconut, pecans, and vanilla.
Use sweetened coconut for the topping. I like to roughly chop it so that the pieces of coconut aren’t too long and stringy.
Finely chop the pecans so they distribute evenly throughout the topping.
Allow the brownies to cool and the frosting to set before cutting and serving.
If you’re a fan of the combination of sweet and salty (like me!) add some flaky sea salt on top. I use Maldon.
Need a shortcut? Use a boxed brownie mix and add the homemade topping.
Serving and storage
Serve chilled or at room temperature. The topping will be more firm if it’s chilled, more gooey if it’s warm.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
German Chocolate Brownies
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and still warm
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- ⅔ cup evaporated milk, full fat
- ⅔ cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 large egg yolks
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- a couple pinches of salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup finely chopped pecans
- 1⅔ cups sweetened shredded coconut, I like to roughly chop it
- flaky sea salt, optional, for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 square pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving a couple inches of overhang on two sides (this will allow you to lift the whole tray of brownies out of the pan for easy removal). Lightly grease the foil/parchment.
- Whisk the melted butter and sugar vigorously for one minute. Add eggs, water, and vanilla extract, whisking again for about 30 seconds. Tap all the excess batter off the whisk and remove the whisk from the bowl.
- Sprinkle cocoa powder, powdered sugar, flour, and salt over the wet ingredients. Use a rubber/silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir the mixture until it is glossy and well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 18-20, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out without raw batter on it, moist fudgy crumbs are OK. Be careful not to over bake. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Once the brownies have cooled, proceed with the topping.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine evaporated milk, brown sugar, egg yolks, butter, and salt. Slowly bring to a gentle simmer, whisking constantly (make sure you're getting all around the pan). Once simmering, simmer for about 3-4 minutes, whisking frequently, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened a bit. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla, pecans, and coconut.
- Spoon onto the brownies and carefully spread the topping into an even layer. Top with flaky sea salt, if desired. Allow the topping to firm up a bit before cutting. You can speed this along by placing the brownies in the refrigerator. I like these served at room temperature.
- Use sweetened coconut for the topping. I like to roughly chop it so that the pieces of coconut aren’t too long and stringy.
- Finely chop the pecans so they distribute evenly throughout the topping.
- Allow the brownies to cool and the frosting to set before cutting and serving.
- If you’re a fan of the combination of sweet and salty (like me!) add some flaky sea salt on top. I use Maldon.
- Need a shortcut? Use a boxed brownie mix and add the homemade topping.
Nutritional Information is an estimate based on third-party calculations and may vary based on products used and serving sizes.