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Recipe

White Chocolate Coconut Cake

Featured in our 2017 Christmas Guide
Peden + Munk

Yield: Yields one 9-inch cake

Servings: 10 to 14

Coconut cake makes me think of Christmas. The white-flocked cake looks so magnificent at the center of a holiday table that I can’t help but save this recipe for December festivities. Instead of filling the cake with custard or coconut buttercream, I prefer the brightly acidic flavor of passion fruit here. The tart perfumed buttercream pairs particularly well with the sweetness of the white chocolate.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, roughly chopped
  • 8 large eggs
  • 6.5 oz. 31% white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1-1/4 cups evaporated milk

For the passion fruit buttercream filling

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup passion fruit puree at room temperature
  • 4 oz. 31% white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

For the white chocolate buttercream frosting

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. 31% white chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut, for finishing

Preparation

Make the cake

  • Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Coat the bottom and sides of four 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick baking spray and line with parchment circles.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the coconut into the bowl and beat until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix well. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for about 15 seconds. Scrape the bowl once more. Alternately add the dry ingredients and evaporated milk in batches, beating until thoroughly combined.
  • Divide the batter equally among the prepared cake pans, spreading it evenly. Place two pans on each oven rack and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pans and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cakes are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pans on cooling racks, then remove, peel off the parchment, and cool completely on the racks. Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Make the filling

  • In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer), beat the butter on medium speed until very soft and creamy, about 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for an additional minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat for 1 minute. Pour in the corn syrup and passion fruit puree and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat on low speed as you stream in the melted white chocolate. Add the salt and continue beating until the buttercream is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl once more and beat for 30 seconds on medium-high speed. Set aside.

Make the frosting

  • In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer), beat the butter on medium speed until very soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat for 1 minute. Pour in the corn syrup and vanilla and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat on low speed as you stream in the melted white chocolate. Add the salt and continue beating until the buttercream is shiny and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl once more and beat for 30 seconds on medium-high speed.

Assemble the cake

  • Place one layer top side up on a cake stand or turntable. Slide four strips of parchment under the edges of the cake to catch any stray frosting. Using an offset spatula, spread one-third of the passion fruit buttercream evenly over the surface. Repeat with 2 more cake layers and the remaining passion fruit buttercream. Place the fourth cake layer on top and refrigerate the cake, uncovered, for 15 minutes so the buttercream sets and the layers adhere to each other.
  • Using an offset spatula, frost the sides and top of the cake with the white chocolate buttercream.
  • Take a handful of coconut at a time and press onto the sides of the cake until the sides are covered. Sprinkle the remaining coconut on top of the cake. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • The finished cake can be stored, lightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Make Ahead Tips

The passion fruit buttercream filling and the white chocolate buttercream frosting can both be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using, then aggressively whip. Put the buttercream in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer) and beat on low speed. As the buttercream starts to break up, increase to medium. After about 1 minute, the buttercream will soften and separate. This may make you nervous, but just continue mixing, and within another minute or so, the buttercream will come back together and appear brand-new.

Tip

Excerpted from Sweet: Inspired Ingredients, Unforgettable Desserts by Valerie Gordon (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2013.

Reviews

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Reviews

  • scexile | 12/28/2013

    I give this cake 2 stars-and those only for appearance. The finished cake looks fantastic; unfortunately, its bland taste did not live up to its impressive presentation. Followed the recipe exactly, had no problems with any steps involved. Labor intensive and not inexpensive to make. No one could taste any chocolate ;cake itself was unremarkable. I've had boxed mixes that tasted better. A true disappointment for our Christmas finale. (as an aside, I am an experienced cook/baker; I owned and operated a successful restaurant for years. Not a novice at baking).I would not recommend this recipe.

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