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Side shot of a slice of chocolate earthquake cake with ice cream on top
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5 from 1 vote

Earthquake Cake

This Earthquake Cake is loaded with layers of German chocolate cake, coconut, pecans and chocolate chips, plus a decadent cream cheese swirl!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate earthquake cake, earthquake cake
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 12 people
Calories 483kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) box German chocolate cake mix, plus additional ingredients called for on the package
  • ½ cup salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 8 ounce block of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips
  • Optional, for serving: whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup or caramel sauce


  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a deep 9 x 13-inch baking dish (preferably at least 2 inches deep or more). If you’re not sure that your pan is deep enough, you can place the dish on top of a rimmed baking sheet to catch any accidental overflow from a shallow dish.
  • Spread coconut and pecans in the bottom of the prepared dish.
  • Prepare the cake mix according to package instructions. Pour the cake batter over the coconut and pecans.
  • In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until incorporated.
  • Dollop the cream cheese mixture on top of the cake batter. Use a knife to swirl the cream cheese mixture around. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
  • Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until set. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake will not come out clean, since the inside will still be a little bit gooey. Cool, slice into squares, and serve!


  • Make sure that you're using a deep 9 x 13-inch pan (at least 2 inches deep, but preferably deeper). If you're not sure that your dish is deep enough, you can place the dish on top of a rimmed baking sheet. The cake puffs up quite a bit and you don't want to end up with overflow on the bottom of your oven!
  • Use full-fat block-style cream cheese -- do not substitute with a tub of spreadable cream cheese.
  • German chocolate cake is a classic companion for coconut and pecans; however, you can substitute with a box of regular chocolate cake mix, Devil's Food cake mix, or chocolate fudge cake mix.
  • Serve it warm if you like it molten and gooey, or wait for the cake to cool completely for clean slices.
  • Top with a scoop of ice cream and chocolate syrup or caramel sauce for a truly decadent dessert!
How to Know when the Cake is Done:
Unlike other cakes, an Earthquake Cake should still be a bit gooey inside when it comes out of the oven. I like to gently press down on the top of the cake with my fingers. If the chocolate cake portion springs back and feels "set," then I pull it out. There might even still be a little bit of jiggle to the cake. A toothpick test will not work, because the toothpick will not come out clean (even when the cake is ready). You don't want to overbake the cake or it will be dry and "cake like" inside, rather than a molten delight! The cake will continue to firm up as it cools.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 483kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 453mg | Potassium: 210mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 522IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 2mg