Earthquake Cake

Earthquake Cake |
Hold on to your seat because things are about to rumble – it’s the Earthquake Cake!

I’m not really sure how this cake got its name, but it’s rich with german chocolate flavor,  pecans, coconut, and the secret ingredient – a powdered sugar, cream cheese, & butter swirl layer.

Earthquake Cake |
Layer #1 (on the left) – chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut, and layer #2 (on the right) german chocolate cake mix

Earthquake Cake |
Layer #3 – the swirled butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar goodness

Earthquake Cake |
I think I overcooked mine slightly because the end result is suppose to be a bit more gooey and not completely cake-like, so be sure to watch your cooking time! But nevertheless this earthquake cake was phenomenal and was the talk of the night at our pot luck.

Earthquake Cake |

Earthquake Cake


  • 1 box German Chocolate Cake Mix (do not prepare as directed on box, prepare as directed below)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 pound powdered sugar (3 and 3/4 cups)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.
  3. Sprinkle the coconut, chocolate chips, and pecans on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Mix the german chocolate cake mix with the oil, eggs, and water.
  5. Pour the cake mix on top of the coconut/chocolate chip/pecan layer.
  6. In a saucepan, melt the butter and cream cheese.
  7. Beat in 1 pound of powdered sugar until it's smooth to the butter/cream cheese.
  8. Spread this mixture on top of the uncooked german chocolate cake in the pan, and swirl into the cake mix using a knife.
  9. Bake for 35-45 minutes. It is done when it doesn't wobble in the pan if you shake it. The toothpick test shouldn't work because the cake should be more gooey in nature.

Recipe adapted from Sweet Treats and More.

Earthquake Cake |
Please secure your belongings before baking, as you might experience some rumbling :-)

Earthquake Cake |

Recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth!
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Chocolate PB Pudding Parfaits, Lemon Drop Shake, & Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Pie

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    • says

      It is called earthquake when you DOLLOP the cream cheese mixture as the second layer then pour the cake batter over all, as it bakes the cream cheese erupts through the cake. Also if you use the recipe off the box of Hershey’s cocoa for deep dark chocolate cake the one that adds a cup of boiling water at the end of mixing you will never have another dry cake.

  1. says

    Beth, I think you just completely stole my food heart. ;) This looks AMAZING. I don’t really care for coconut, but all the ingredients together, I bet I would devour this cake. I love the swirl layer on top, it gives it the most perfect touch. Thank you for sharing such a yummy recipe.

    I’d love it if you linked this up over at Living Well Spending Less for Thrifty Thursday this week!

  2. foodfashionparty says

    I had to come visit your space after seeing this beautiful cake on Pinterest. I am in love with all the flavors in the cake. Pinned it and will try it asap.
    Nice to meet you.

  3. says

    I love German Chocolate cake and this looks almost yummier than the traditional! I’ll be pinning this to create sometime soon – thank you for posting! Cute site by the way, I’m visiting from Living Well Spending Less link-up party.

    Nicole @ WKH

    • The First Year Blog says

      Hi Scott, you could just omit the coconut. Or you could try chopped almonds or peanut butter chocolate chips. I hope you find a substitute you like!

  4. katrina says

    Beth, in noticed in the pictures that you used a dark pan. The problem with your cake not being gooey enough is the a dark pan. In a dark pan you need to adjust your oven temperature down 25*. This should help with it in the future, but make sure that you only make this change if you use a dark pan. If you didn’t use a dark pan then cut your baking time by ten minutes and place your hot pan on a cooling rack to allow air to circulate around the pan evenly. This will allow the filling to cool evenly and you will find you won’t have one spot gooey and another dryer. I have this recipe and to switch it up I add butterscotch chips about 1/3 cup, over the top of the coconut, it adds just a hint of caramel flavor that you find in a German Chocolate cake.

  5. says

    I made this today with a few modifications due to family preferences. I had to comment to tell you it is absolutely amazing!! I used about 1 cup each of chocolate chips and butterscotch chips on the bottom, used triple chocolate cake mix, and then the yummy cream cheese mix just as you said. It’s suppose to be for our dessert for after lunch tomorrow, but I had to try it! Then my husband tried it, then his mom, then whichever ones of our sons caught us sampling!! I’m looking forward to everyone having a big piece tomorrow! Thanks for sharing!

  6. says

    This sounds delicious, Beth! I almost never buy cake mixes and I know they don’t even sell German chocolate flavor here, but I’m tempted to try it with a basic chocolate mix just because it looks so darn yummy! Thanks so much for sharing an easy-but-scrumptious treat!

  7. says

    This cake looks sinfully good, and I love how easy it is thanks to cake mix! I’m putting this on my list of recipes to try very soon. We’d love for you to share it with us at Saturday Night Fever too! The party goes until Tuesday Night :)

  8. says

    Wow, talk about food porn :-) This looks fantastic. I may have to try without the coconut though. Hubby doesn’t like it, though I love anything with coconut. Thanks!

  9. Terri says

    Beth, Wow!!! tried the Earthquake Cake – Simply Delicious and so easy to make. Had company and that was the dessert we had and everyone commented that it was AWESOME. Believe me it was and so glad to get your recipes as was so easy to make and simple ingredients. I can fully see why this is called the Earthquake Cake…As the tummies are the Earth and it sure does shake your tummies as so yummy.. A favorite and will sure make again. Great Job, Beth!!!!! Terri

  10. Tara says

    Have a question. I am making this right now.. Does it need to be stored in refrigerator after eating or can it be left sitting on counter? I can’t wait to taste it. Thanks in advance.

    • Beth @ The First Year Blog says

      To be safe you could put it in the fridge.. I don’t remember what we did.. or if there was any left over.

    • Beth @ The First Year Blog says

      Hi Tara! To be safe you could put it in the fridge.. I don’t remember what we did.. or if there was any left over.

  11. Ema Burcheci says

    Hey Beth, I attempted to make this amazingly delicious cake and wasn’t very successful. I followed the instructions to the T and the middle didn’t cook very well. The edges turned out delicious but the middle was almost completely like cake batter. I baked it for almost 1 1/2 hours and then decided to give up ;(( can you give me some pointers. I really really really want this yummy recipe to work out. Thanks for sharing it with everyone.

    • Beth @ The First Year Blog says

      Hi Ema! The recipe is suppose to turn out a little gooey, but obviously you don’t want to be eating it raw. It can depend on what type of pan you baked this in, light or dark metal or glass can make a difference in the baking time and temperature. I am sorry to hear you had trouble!

  12. says

    Just made it tonight. Oh, my word, delicious! Rich and gooey. I baked it about 35 minutes and it was done just right. Only difference I made was used a regular “chocolate fudge” cake mix, because I couldn’t find a German chocolate cake mix.

  13. Lindsey says

    This cake looks delicious! Has anyone put frosting on it? I’d like to make this for my mothers birthday cake but not sure what frosting to put on it.

    • Beth @ The First Year says

      I love chocolate frosting personally! You could always try adding frosting to a small piece and taste test it to see what you think. But I haven’t heard of anyone putting frosting on this cake.

  14. Kaye W. says

    Hi Beth,
    I have made this cake hundreds of times over the years, however, I do not melt my sugar and butter together. I just mix the butter and cream cheese together then add the powdered sugar, just like a normal frosting. Then I drop it by spoonfuls all over the cake and bake it for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. The cake will rise up over the frosting and it is always creamy and delicious. Just thought you would like another version to try. Also, make sure that you never use anything other than the full fat version of cream cheese when baking. Reduced fat and fat free have too much water content in them. Thanks for sharing your version!

  15. Rosalind Skulsky says

    I’m so excited, I can’t wait to try this recipe. My grandchildren will devour it, I’m sure. I found you accidentally and I cannot wait to try any other recipes you may have.

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