Cream of coconut, sweetened coconut and coconut extract give this moist and delicious cake a triple dose of coconut flavor. This will become your go to coconut cake recipe!
I spent an exhausting weekend searching for my go to Coconut Cake recipe and finally gave up the search. God knows where I placed it after last Easter. If you were to ask Don, he would say it’s no wonder she can’t find the recipe, she has so many. I’m a firm believer that you never throw away a recipe or recipe book. With that said, my favorite go to recipe called for a special ingredient that I obsess over…cream of coconut. I love this stuff so much, I included it in my Coconut Cream Pie also. It’s amazing!!
So, with a misplaced recipe, I searched every avenue available from cookbooks to Pinterest to find the recipe closest to mine and finally came up with a winner. I came across Lynn from Southern With A Twists’ recipe for Coconut Cake and it was very similar to mine. The second I saw cream of coconut as one of the ingredients, it caught my attention, and the sweet coconut filling is very close and maybe even better than the filling in my original recipe.
Wait until you taste this filling. I wanted to eat the entire pan of this incredible filling instead of using it between the cake layers. The filing is made of coconut, pure butter, vanilla and heavy cream…enough said.
So what makes a moist and full of flavor Coconut Cake?
Moist homemade cake layers are full of flavor but not quite as moist as those boxed cake mixes that are loaded with preservatives. They need a little bit of help in the moisture category. In my original Coconut Cake recipe, I made a simple syrup infused with coconut extract and cream of coconut and brushed it over the baked cake layers. This gave the layers a boost of moistness and coconut flavor. In this recipe, the filling is cooked and infused with lots of coconut flavor. A simple syrup is not needed. This filling covers both moistness and coconut flavor.
In general, homemade cake layers tend to be more dry than boxed cake mixes, partially due to their lack of preservatives. Sour cream, buttermilk, milk, oil or butter are ingredients that add moisture to homemade cakes. In this recipe, there are 2 sticks of butter plus 13 1/2 ounces of coconut milk added for moistness. The cake batter gets a boost of flavor from coconut, cream of coconut and pure coconut extract.
A good cake needs a good frosting…one that will stand up on its own yet soak into the cake just enough to add moistness and flavor to the outside edges of the cake. You can’t go wrong with a cream cheese buttercream frosting for this. The frosting for this coconut cake is not your ordinary cream cheese frosting. It’s infused, once again, with cream of coconut and once the cake is frosted, lots of coconut gets tossed onto the frosting, covering the top and sides of the cake.
Have a great Easter!
- 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 3 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 can coconut milk, 13.5 ounces
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened cream of coconut, stirred
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure coconut extract
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of kosher salt, (use can use regular salt)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure coconut extract
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cream of coconut
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 to 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- Toasted coconut for the top, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 3 wax paper rings to fit 3 cake pans, 9 inch each. Grease and flour the insides of the pans and the paper, taping off any excess flour.
- Add the coconut to a food processor or blender and pulse several times until it's finely chopped and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut, flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut milk, cream of coconut, egg whites, vanilla, and coconut extracts until well combined.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and mix on high speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium low and add the whole eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the coconut milk mixture, to the creamed butter mixture, starting and ending with the flour.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared cake pans. Gently shake, then tap each pan on the counter to even out the batter and remove any air bubbles. Bake cake layers until they are light golden brown on top, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, approximately 35 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of each cake. Allow cakes to cool for 5 minutes. Run knife around edges one more time and invert cakes onto wire cooling racks to cool. I place wax paper on the cooking racks and poke holes through it with the tip of a knife. Allow cake layers to cool completely before frosting.
- Place the coconut in a food processor or blender and pulse until finely chopped and set aside.
- Add the butter, sugar and whipping cream to a medium or large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the butter has melted and the sugar completely dissolved.
- Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, water, vanilla and salt together in a small bowl. Stir the mixture into the cream mixture in the saucepan. Bring mixture back to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for about 1 minute until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Add the coconut and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a bowl and allow to cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight.
- When ready to assemble the cake, beat the chilled filling with a handheld mixer on high speed until thick, light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Add the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer or use a hand mixer. Mix on high speed until the cream cheese if very light and creamy and free of any lumps. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until the mixture is very light and creamy.
- Turn mixer to low and add the coconut and vanilla extracts and cream of coconut. Mix for about 1 minute and start adding the sugar, one cup at a time. Once all sugar is incorporated, turn mixer to medium high speed and mix until frosting is thick and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Place one cake layer on a cake stand, or on a cardboard round to transfer to a cake stand later. Spread one half of the filling mixture over the layer. Add a second layer over the filling, followed by the second half of the filling. Add the third cake layer.
- Use the back of a tablespoon and go around the cake, in between each layer, to smooth out any filling that is oozing out from between the cake layers. Spread a thin crumb coating over the top and sides of cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of cake. Using your hand loosely toss coconut onto the sides of cake as you rotate cake, then gently pat the coconut into cake sides. Sprinkle coconut over the top. If desired, sprinkle toasted coconut over the top also.
- Store cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Remove cake from refrigerator at least 1 hour prior to serving. I like this cake better the day after it's made, after the filling and frosting have had time to soak into the cake.
- To toast coconut: Spread coconut on a cookie sheet and place in oven. Turn oven to broil and watch coconut closely. Coconut will brown quickly. When part of the coconut has turned golden brown, remove it from the oven. If you wait until all of the coconut has browned, some of it will burn. Remove promptly.