Rich & Gooey Earthquake Cake

updated Jan 21, 2020
Rich & Gooey Earthquake Cake

Rich German chocolate cake and creamy cheesecake collide in this decadent sheet cake.

Serves12 to 15

Prep30 minutes

Cook45 minutes to 50 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Go ahead and bookmark this recipe now — it will serve you well next time you’re craving chocolate. This over-the-top sheet cake is a mash-up of two favorites: decadent German chocolate cake and rich and creamy cheesecake. Once you try them together, you’ll never want one without the other.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

How to Make the Best, Easiest Earthquake Cake

Although many earthquake cakes call for a box of German chocolate cake mix, I bet you already have the ingredients on hand to start from scratch. The process is simple: Whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl, whisk the wet in another, then pour the wet into the dry, and stir until just moistened. No mixer required!

You’ll pour the batter into a baking pan over a mixture of shredded coconut, chopped pecans, and chocolate chips (classic toppings for a German chocolate cake). Then, you’ll dollop heaping spoonfuls of sweetened cream cheese onto the batter. As it bakes, the batter shifts, the cream cheese sinks, and a rich and gooey cake is born. In place of frosting (which would be too rich for this cake), you’ll top the warm cake with more coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips, which begin to melt but retain some texture.

Bring to a potluck, a bake sale, or a birthday party — or simply serve it just because on a random Monday night. Don’t forget the cold milk for serving.

Rich & Gooey Earthquake Cake

Rich German chocolate cake and creamy cheesecake collide in this decadent sheet cake.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes to 50 minutes

Serves 12 to 15

Nutritional Info


For the cake:

  • Cooking spray

  • 2 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 1 3/4 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup

    unsweetened natural cocoa powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 cups

    whole or 2% milk

  • 1/2 cup

    vegetable oil

  • 2

    large eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 tablespoon

    vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 2 cups

    powdered sugar

  • 1 (8-ounce) package

    cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups

    plus 2 tablespoons shredded, sweetened coconut, divided

  • 1 1/4 cups

    semisweet chocolate chips, divided

  • 1 cup

    chopped pecans, divided


  1. Make the cake: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. Whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.

  3. Whisk the milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla together in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour into the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until the batter is just combined and no streaks of flour remain; set aside.

  4. Make the filling: Place the powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.

  5. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of the coconut, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, and 3/4 cup of the pecans over the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Pour in the cake batter. Dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture into the cake, then use two forks to swirl and spread the cream cheese slightly.

  6. Bake until the center of the cake springs back when pressed lightly, the edges pull away from the sides of the baking dish, and a cake tester comes out with only a few moist crumbs, 45 to 50 minutes. Immediately sprinkle the hot cake with the remaining 2 tablespoons coconut, 1/4 cup chocolate chips, and 1/4 cup pecans. Set aside to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Cut into squares.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.