Have you ever stayed up at night because you couldn’t stop thinking about cake? I have. Maybe it’s because I’m over-tired. Maybe I’m obsessed. I have a list of cakes I want to make –at least 20 of them, and this one made it to the top. A perfectly rich chocolate coconut cake paired with coconut meringue buttercream frosting. What could be better for a coconut and chocolate lover?
There are a few things I love about this cake (besides how amazingly good it tastes). You see, it looks incredible from the outside. Even without cutting it open, this cake tells you how good it is before you even take a bite. But then you cut through the coconut shavings and fluffy white frosting and see the chocolate. It kind of makes my knees shake. Unlike a heavy German chocolate, this cake has a light-as-air meringue buttercream that melts in your mouth. The coconut flavors are layered throughout, yet the coconut is still understated. You taste it on the backend, after the chocolate and the frosting, and it lingers a little until your next bite.
I’ve made this chocolate cake recipe a few times (see chocolate espresso cake and chocolate cake with mousse filling and port wine frosting). It’s a damn good recipe. This time, I adapted it by adding coconut milk, coconut oil and I cut the sugar in half. I don’t need that extra cup of sugar in my life and neither does this cake. It stays moist for a long time, and I think it gets better by the day.
Did I mention the frosting is phenomenal? The recipe is from Brown Eyed Baker and it is yummy to the extreme. In fact, everyone in my house at the time was eating finger-fulls of it. Paired with the crunchy, barely salted coconut flakes, it is mind blowing good. In an adult way. It’s not overly sweet. This is a sophisticated icing that takes itself seriously. I’m not kidding. If you had some, you would just nod your head in agreement and say, “Yes, that makes perfect sense.”
I’m happy to add a Swiss buttercream recipe to my cake accumulation. Now that I feel somewhat comfortable making cakes, I felt this needed to be my next challenge. After making a French buttercream, the Swiss was a cinch. Yes, I had to stand there at the mixer for longer than I wanted. Yes, the whole thing curdled on me and I thought all was lost. But we made it back from the abyss and it was all worth it. Because this week, we eat cake.
- Butter, for greasing the pans
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the baking pans
- 1 cup sugar (original recipe has 2)
- 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup coconut milk, shaken
- 1/2 cup coconut or vegetable oil
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed, strong hot coffee
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 6 egg whites
- 1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more if preferred)
- ⅔ cup coconut milk
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F/177°C.
Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans. I use a paper towel to smear the butter around, and then tilt the pans over the sink to make sure the flour covers every bit of the pan. You can line them with parchment on the bottom, but my cakes came out fine without.
Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, blend together the coconut milk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Using an electric mixer on a low speed, slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients. Once combined, mix in the hot coffee.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until they are done and a wooden cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 30 minutes, and then remove them from the pans to cool on a wire rack.
Using a small heat-proof bowl (or double boiler), whisk the egg whites and sugar together. Place over a saucepan with an inch of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Heat the mixture for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until is hot to the touch and the sugar is completely dissolved (rub the mixture between your fingers to make sure).
Transfer the egg white mixture to a mixing bowl and whip on medium-high speed for another 6-8 minutes. It should be a stiff white meringue that is cool to the touch. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 4-5 minutes.
At this point, the frosting should be smooth and glossy.
If the frosting curdled like mine did the first time, try separating out about a cup of frosting and heat it in the microwave for about 20 seconds or less. Slowly pour back into your bowl while beating on high. This will usually work like a charm to save a meringue buttercream.
Now that your frosting is light and creamy, add the vanilla extract, salt and coconut milk. Give it another whip on medium speed until the frosting is smooth. If it looks separated, just keep whipping until it comes together.
Use this frosting within 30 minutes, or store at room temperature for 1 day. Whip again with an electric mixer if stored.
When cool, level the cake tops if necessary. Place one cake layer on a stand and frost with a generous amount of frosting, spreading it to the edges and leveling with a spatula. Place the second cake layer on top. Cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) and refrigerate 15-20 minutes.
Mix the frosting a little, then add the remaining to the cake and spread evenly. Using your hand, press the shredded coconut into the icing.