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Earthquake Cake

If you’ve never had earthquake cake before, get ready to shake things up in your kitchen!

I don’t know about you, but whenever I spot a recipe that includes chocolate and cream cheese in the ingredients, I know it will be great.

With all its gorgeous layers – coconut and pecans, German chocolate cake, and cream cheese frosting – earthquake cake is impossible to say no to. 

Chocolatey Earthquake Cake with Chocolate Chips
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Sure, it’s not as pretty as traditional cakes, but believe me, it’s a certified hit. Best of all, it’s super easy to make and feeds a crowd!

If you’re looking for an effortless way to impress your friends, this dessert is the answer.

This cake is so outrageously moist, gooey, and flavorful, it will rock your world!

Earthquake Cake

Earthquake cake is a moist and decadent chocolate cake made even better with layers of toasted coconut, crunchy pecans, and a sweet and tangy cream cheese mixture. 

Each component is an integral part of making this cake earth-shatteringly delicious. It’s to die for!

It’s not the best-looking dessert out there, but who cares? This cake is guaranteed to sweep you off your feet.

It may not be love at first sight, but you will fall for it, nonetheless.

While it’s not technically a dump cake, you might as well just call it that. Thanks to the trusty cake mix, it’s a breeze to make! 

Earthquake Cake Ingredients: Flaked Coconut, Chocolate Cake Mix, Chopped Pecans, Cream Cheese, Powdered Sugar and Vanilla Extract


  • Flaked Coconut – For a nutty, toasty flavor that tastes amazing with chocolate cake.
  • Chopped Pecans – They give an element of crunch that complements beautifully with the soft and moist cake. 
  • German Chocolate Cake Mix – This is the base of the cake! It brings all the elements together to make one harmonious, albeit messy-looking, cake.
  • Butter and Cream Cheese – Together, they create a rich, creamy, and tart layer that complements the chocolate cake well. 
  • Powdered Sugar – To sweeten the cream cheese. The recipe calls for 4 cups of powdered sugar, but you can add or lessen the quantity to suit your preference.
  • Vanilla Extract – To enhance the flavors of the butter, cream cheese, and sugar.

Tips for the Best Cake

  • When adding the cream cheese layer, do not spread it all throughout the pan. Leave an inch of space from all the sides to prevent it from overflowing.
  • The combination of butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar creates a very thick mixture that’s impossible to pour. If you want a thinner consistency, melt the butter and cream cheese using a double boiler or the microwave before adding the sugar.
  • Apart from German chocolate cake, you can use other cake mixes such as strawberry, and vanilla. My personal favorite is lemon!
  • Several people will tell you to use a devil’s food cake mix but don’t. Since the cake batter is too runny, the cream cheese will sink into the bottom of the cake. It will still taste good, but your dessert will not have that beautiful cream cheese layer in the center.
  • Fan of peanut butter? Use peanut butter instead of butter to make the cream cheese mixture. Top the cake with peanut butter chips or crushed peanut butter cups, too!
  • If your coconut flakes are too dry, you can stir them with 2 tablespoons of butter to moisten and soften them.
  • If the cake mix is too thick to pour, use an ice cream scoop! Dollop the scoops over the coconut and pecans and then spread with a spoon or an offset spatula. 
  • For a prettier cake, you can swirl the batter with a knife once you have added all the layers.
  • For a nuttier, more flavorful coconut, toast it for a few minutes before spreading it over the pan.
  • Once the cake is done, top it with more pecans and toasted coconut. 
Moist and Gooey Earthquake Cake

Where Did the Name Come From?

This cake goes by many names – German chocolate upside-down cake, hurricane cake, and most popularly, earthquake cake. 

While the name of the cake has no clear origin, it only takes one look to understand the logic behind it.

With all those cracks and crevices, the cake looks like it’s been hit by an earthquake!

It may look a mess, but I think it’s gorgeous.

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The combination of soft cake, toasted coconut, and crunchy pecans creates a wonderful harmony of flavors and textures. My taste buds can’t resist!

Homemade Earthquake Cake with Cream Cheese and Chocolate Chips

Can I Change the Type of Nuts? What About Removing the Nuts? 

Classic earthquake cake has a combination of pecans and coconut for a lovely texture and flavor contrast. But that should not stop you from putting your own spin on it!

So yes, if you do not like pecans, other nuts work, too. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia – feel free to experiment. 

Allergic to nuts? Use mini-chocolate chips instead. It will still give you that element of crunch, and it will make your cake even more rich and chocolaty.

Add as much as you want. There’s no such thing as too much chocolate! 

Here’s a tip: don’t add them prior to baking. This will only sink them and turn the cream cheese mixture brown.

Instead, add the chocolate chips right after baking. Apart from the flavor, they’ll also help hide gaps and craters in the cake.

Earthquake Cake



Prep time


Cooking time






  • 1 cup flaked coconut, toasted

  • 1 cup chopped pecans

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) package German chocolate cake mix

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

  • 4 cups powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the bottom and the sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan.
  • Spread the coconut and pecans in the bottom of the baking pan.
  • Prepare the chocolate cake mix according to package instructions. Pour the batter over the coconut and pecans.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  • Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until the mixture is smooth. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture over the cake batter.
  • Bake the cake for 50 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely before serving. Enjoy!
Earthquake Cake

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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