Aug 3, 2009

Heavenly Seduction Coconut Cake - RECIPE

I'm so happy to give you another recipe--this time for an easy-to-make, truly delicious coconut cake. It's got coconut four or five ways, depending on whether you use the optional coconut cream powder in the whipped cream. The cake itself has canned cream of coconut, coconut extract, and desiccated coconut, which is just a $10 word for dried coconut. The whipped cream frosting is topped with sweetened grated coconut and flavored with coconut cream powder. (I didn't have the coconut cream powder; it was delicious without it, and might very well be even more delicious with it).
The cake uses only egg whites, so I could use up some of the leftover egg whites I had after making the tiramisu. (One of the handy things about this book, by the way, is an appendix telling you which cakes are made with egg yolks only and which are made with egg whites only.)

The egg whites, some of the cream of coconut, and the extracts are mixed up and set aside.

Then the sugar and desiccated coconut are whirred around in a food processor until the coconut gets very fine. This gets mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, and then the egg white mixture is added. I told you it was easy.
It makes a nice, thick batter.

And it bakes in about 30 minutes, with no problems.

The whipped cream recipe doesn't call for any sugar, but I added about a tablespoon because I wasn't using the coconut cream powder. The sweetened coconut gave it enough sweetness so that it probably didn't need any extra, but I thought that Jim might laboriously pick off each little shred of coconut, since coconut is right up there with cilantro in his list of foods that do not improve his disposition. I figured that when Rose called this a "seduction" cake, she wasn't thinking of people who don't like coconut and how unlikely they are to be seduced by coconut.

Really, the only thing even faintly difficult about this recipe is accumulating the five sources of coconut, and, of those five, only the desiccated coconut and the coconut cream powder might present a problem.
Woody, Rose's assistant and friend, gave me some desiccated coconut so I wouldn't have to order it myself. I thought it was out of the kindness of his heart, but it turned out that he wanted some of the cake for himself. "Marie," he said, "let's just say you don't want anything bad to happen. And nothing will if you leave a piece of cake on the front porch for me." "What time, Woody?" I asked, tremblingly. I'll admit it--I was scared. A protection racket based on cake? I never suspected.
"We like to do these things at night--for obvious reasons," he said. "Nobody's going to get hurt if you follow directions. And I know you have some trouble with following directions, so listen up, capisce?" "Capisce?" I thought to myself. "Where's the Woody I thought I knew?" At 10:00 p.m., sharp, I put two pieces of cake on the front porch. I left a note: "Take two slices, please. I don't want any trouble." I turned the light on, and went upstairs to bed. It was a sleepless night. I tossed and turned. Finally, I crept downstairs and looked on the porch. The cake was gone. I was safe. For now.

TASTING PANEL:Laurel: "Interesting combination of textures with the whipped cream, flaked coconut, and just a bit of coconut texture in the cake."
Karen: "I've always liked very sweet desserts, but Rose has won me over with her not-as-sweet, more subtle approach to baking. And this is the best one yet."
Jim:: "All I can say is I had two pieces and I don't like coconut."
Jan: "This goes down real easy." [This is a compliment, for those of you who don't speak Minnesotan].

Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake

Oven Temperature: 350°F/175˚C
Baking Time: 30 to 40 minutes

Serves: 8 to 10

3 large egg whites, room temperature: 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
(3 fluid ounces) (3.2 ounces, 90 grams)
Canned cream of coconut (NOT coconut cream): 2/3 cup, divided (5.3 fluid ounces)
(6.7 ounces, 190 grams) (processed in food processor before measuring)
Pure vanilla extract: 3/4 teaspoon
Ccoconut extract: 3/4 teaspoon
Superfine sugar: 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon (3 ounces, 88 grams)
Desiccated unsweetened grated coconut: 1/2 cup (1.2 ounces, 35 grams)
Cake flour: (see note) 2 cups (sifted into the cup and leveled off) (7 ounces, 200 grams)
Baking powder: 2 1/4 teaspoons (10.7 grams)
Salt: 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams)
Unsalted butter (65 to 75˚F/19 to 23˚C) (8 tablespoons, 1 stick (4 ounces, 113 grams)

A 9 by 2-inch cake pan, encircled with a cake strip, bottom coated with shortening, topped with a parchment round, then coated with baking spray with flour.
Preheat the Oven
20 minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175˚C.
Mix the Liquid Ingredients
In a medium bowl whisk the egg whites, 3 tablespoons of the cream of coconut, the vanilla, and the coconut extract just until lightly combined.
Mix the Batter
In a food processor, process the sugar and coconut until the coconut is powder fine.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the sugar mixture, flour, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining cream of coconut. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg white mixture in two batches, beating for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the surface evenly.
Bake the Cake
Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until a wire cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean and just starts coming away from the sides of the pan. It will be under-baked in the center if it is removed before it starts shrinking. The cake is so fluffy it will not spring back readily when pressed in the center. Because it is so wondrously tender, the top will dip slightly on cooling.
Cool the Cake
Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake and invert it onto a wire rack that has been coated with cooking spray. To prevent splitting, reinvert the cake so that the top side is up, and cool completely before serving.

Note: I love the flavor and incredibly tender texture offered by the cream of coconut but it requires cake flour to prevent serious dipping in the center. The cake is also very delicious with coconut milk and does not dip in the center. To substitute, use 2/3 cup/5.3 fluid ounces (5.7 ounces/163 grams) canned coconut milk (stirred well before measuring). Be sure to increase the sugar to 1 cup/7 ounces/200 grams and the baking powder to 2 1/2 teaspoons. You can also use the same weight of bleached all-purpose flour instead of cake flour (the volume is only 1 3/4 cups).

Whipped Cream
Makes: 3 cups/13 ounces/370 grams
Heavy cream, cold: 1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) (12.3 ounces, 348 grams)
optional: Powdered coconut cream: 1/4 cup (1 ounce, 32 grams)
For the Topping: Sweetened flaked coconut: 1 cup (3 ounces, 85 grams)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the heavy cream and optional powdered coconut cream, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. (Chill the whisk beater alongside the bowl.)
Beat the mixture only until soft peaks form when the beater is raised or the cream mounds softly when dropped from a spoon.)
Mound the cream onto the cake and sprinkle evenly with the coconut. Serve immediately. Be prepared to swoon.

Highlights for Success
Cream of coconut contains solid coconut oil and needs to be processed in the food processor until smooth, or thoroughly whisked to break it up into small pieces.
If you want to top the cake with whipped cream more than 30 minutes before serving, you will need to add 1/2 teaspoon of Cobasan before beating or use the gelatin stabilized whipped cream (page 00) to enable it to stand for up to several hours at room temperature without watering out or see cornstarch stabilized whipped cream, which will keep it from watering out for 24 hours refrigerated.
Powdered coconut cream is available in Eastern food supply stores such as Kalustyan.
This coconut cake is not as moist when held for several days as the coconut layer cake because of the slightly drying effect of the dried coconut and the low liquid/high fat content of the cream of coconut. The grated coconut, however, gives it extra coconut flavor and the higher fat content meltingly tender texture.


Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

i jut have to report that i found myself smiling at jim's comment (i loved them all). but what is happening to my friend woody?! doesn't he know your day profession marie?

by the way, i think the kitchen aid is going to hold up just fine for the whole book. did you know it's their 75th anniversary (same as elliott).

Marie said...

Woody might tell you there was just a wee bit of exaggeration in my description of the cake pick-up. This is such a delicious cake--I'm looking forward to comparing it to the Southern (Manhattan) Coconut Cake.

Yet Another Anna said...

Somehow the fact that I have lots of different types of coconut in the pantry available 'just in case' now makes me feel prepared, not just obsessive. :)

I've never heard of powdered coconut cream, though. Wonder what it is, and how hard it is to find?

Anonymous said...

I've seen powdered coconut cream in Indian markets. Also, the health/organic section of several grocery stores in my area has dried unsweetened coconut.

Marie said...

(yet another) Anna,
You can order powdered coconut cream on (what can't you order from, and you can get it at Asian markets. I checked the Asian sections in a couple of supermarkets but didn't see it. I think it keeps for a long time, and you should add it to your "just in case" coconut collection.

Whole Foods usually has dried unsweetened coconut, if you don't object to Whole Foods.

evil cake lady said...

this is a really pretty cake--all that whipped cream and coconut: mmmm. this post got me thinking, if jim can like a coconut cake, maybe i really would like the ginger cheesecake.

so i'm guessing canned cream of coconut is different than coconut milk? i have coconut flour, i wonder if it would contribute to the flavor? can't wait to experiment!

i liked your liberal retelling of your cake hand off! hilarious.

and i made rose's peanut butter cream AND her german chocolate cake filling in the past week and both were THE BEST versions i've had yet! leave it to rose!

doughadear said...

Who knew that a lovely cake would lead to a story of suspense and intrigue.

Marie said...

I wish I had your devil-may-care attitude toward experimenting!
Canned cream of coconut is much thicker than coconut milk. I think it's used to make pina coladas. I hope you try this cake--I'd love to see some other versions.
Rose's German chocolate cake doesn't use German's chocolate, but she swears by it, so I'm looking forward to trying it out. Her filling recipe looks delicious, so I'm not surprised that it's the best ever.

If you knew Woody, who is one of the sweetest and most affable men ever made, you'd know why Rose is puzzled to learn that he's suddenly sounding like a hit man.

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Excellent - I love coconut. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

Woody said...

I was a singin' like a Soprano after Ize took one heavenly bite of dee cake. It was ah wonderaful. You won't be a sleepin' with da fishes anytime soon.
Besidesa Donnah Rose asked me to protecta you for yur longa joiney tru duh book.
And I senta her a good report.
No hit--when you makea hits like dis one.

Melinda said...

This cake sounds so good! I love the coconut being whizzed up with the sugar and all the different layering of coconut goodies.
I am not a huge fan of the hairy fronds of woody coconut that normally embellish a cake but this cake does sound very different.
(I didn't know Jim and I both disliked cilantro. I just knew he was a good sort.)
Woody: Take the coconut cake and leave the gun.

Marie said...

Let me know if you try it.

It's a relief to know that Rose has got my back.

I'm not sure that aversion to cilantro is a reliable guide to character. But you probably would like Jim.

hector said...

OMG, this cake must be amazing, but all the coconut instances is making my coco nuts! well done Marie.

this is a good time for me to find out what to do with my local coconuts.

Marie said...

You're very lucky! Locally grown coconuts are hard to come by in Minnesota. The cake would probably be even better freshly grated coconut, just fallen from a tree.

Anonymous said...

Oh Yum!

I love coconut! I really have liked the looks of the last two cakes you have posted. They look kind of homey, and like the house would smell really great while they are baking. Not that the financiers didn't look great, but to me there's something romantic and grandmotherly and Americana about the apple and coconut cakes.

Oh, I don't know what I'm saying, I'm 6 months pregnant. I just need some cake. Fancy or plain.

Off to gather coconut supplies...
Chris in RI

Marie said...

Chris in RI,
I don't think I've ever seen "romantic" and "grandmotherly" in the same sentence before.
Congratulations! Is this your first? At six months, a lovely slice of coconut cake should be just the thing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Marie

I meant romantic as in the romance of the wild west or the romantic notion of sitting on a quiet porch swing watching the world go by! Shudder. I blush to think that my dear Scot Presbyterian gram might have interpreted it in any other way!

This will be our second. Maria is six and simply beside herself with excitement at becoming a big sister (and so are we). And you are right, coconut cake would hit the spot!
Chris in RI

Marie said...

I'll expect an announcement sometime in October!

hector said...

Marie, freshly grated coconut does not fall off from the tree! A giant fruit shaped like a football ball does! First you need to remove the coconut fiber which makes about 50 percent. Then goes the hard shell and lastly the skin. OK, I can ask my farm friends to do this for me and bring me some 'ziplock coconuts' which are coconut meat only. Ferom here I can shred, make milk, then dry the milk for powder!

I believe coconut milk is the squezzed shredded fresh coconut (w/o fibers). Coconut cream must be a finelly ground fresn coconut (milk plus fiber). Coconut essence must grow in La Cuisine or Boyajian! Let me get started and reintroduce fresh coconut desserts to Hawaii!

Marie said...

That sounds like much more work than going to the grocery store and buying a bag of coconut.

Kathleen said...


Thank you for this great recipe.

Your instructions say to set oven rack in lower third of oven. I wondered about this, as I bake my cakes in the middle of the oven, but followed your instructions nonetheless.

My cake came out nicely, except for having a dark bottom crust that tasted over-cooked.

I baked it at 350 deg. F. It baked in 30 min.

It was a wonderful, coconutty-flavored cake, but the next time I bake it, I will position the rack in the middle.

Why do you recommend the lower position?

Marie said...

I'm sorry your cake got too brown on the bottom--that's so disappointing. Almost all of the cakes in Heavenly Cakes specify the lower third of the oven (I use the rack immediately below the center of the oven), and I haven't questioned this because I haven't had any problems at all with over-browning. I think you have to know your own oven, though, and if baking in the center works best for you, I think you should happily ignore any contrary instruction. Otherwise, you may want to test your oven temperature to see if it's running a little hot.

Kathleen said...


Just to let you know that I baked the Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake again, this time as cupcakes and this time in the middle of the oven. There were perfect.

My oven is a narrow Bosch, I guess it could be called apartment-sized. It only has 3 positions for the racks. The lowest rack is inches from the heat source. You are right -- we have to know our own ovens.

I recommend this recipe for cupcakes.

Marie said...

Thanks for letting me know. And it's also good to know that they work well as cupcakes, because not every cake recipe translates that well into the smaller version.

Anonymous said...

The coconut cream powder and dessicated coconut are common products here in Australia. It is virtually impossible to get cream of coconut here though. No one know what it is.