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Outrageous Coconut-Cream Meringue Cake

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Serves sixteen.

  • To learn more, read:
    Cake Fancy
  • by Rebecca Rather from Fine Cooking
    Issue 102

This cake owes its stunning looks to a billowy meringue frosting that’s spiked and browned all over with a kitchen torch.

For the cake
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pans
  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, well shaken and at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
For the filling
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch kosher salt
For the meringue
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups egg whites (about 10 large), preferably pasteurized, at room temperature
Make the cake

Position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Butter three 9x2-inch round cake pans and line each with a parchment round. Butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a 1-cup liquid measure, mix the coconut milk with the vanilla.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
 
Add about one-third of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. Add half of the coconut milk and mix until incorporated. Continue adding the flour mixture and coconut milk, alternating the two and ending with the flour. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Pour the batter into a large bowl.

In a clean mixer bowl and using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a spatula, gently stir a large spoonful of the whites into the batter to loosen it, and then fold the remaining egg whites gently into the batter.

Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Level the batter with a spatula. Set two pans on the top rack and the third on the lower rack. Stagger the pans on the oven racks so that no pan is directly over another. Bake, swapping and rotating the pans’ positions after 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes total. Cool on racks for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.

Make the filling

In a medium bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the cream and the egg yolks.

Combine the sugar and flour in a medium saucepan. Add the cream mixture and cook, whisking, over medium heat until smooth, 2 minutes. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking, until thickened to a pudding consistency, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the coconut, butter, vanilla, and salt and let cool to room temperature.

With an electric hand mixer, whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream to soft peaks. With a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the filling.

Assemble the cake

Put a cake layer on a flat serving platter or a cake stand lined with strips of waxed paper to keep it clean while icing. Top the layer with half of the filling, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula almost to the cake’s edge. Repeat with a second cake layer and the remaining filling. Top with the last cake layer.

Make the meringue

Put the sugar and egg whites in the metal bowl of a stand mixer (make sure it’s clean) and set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar melts completely, 3 to 4 minutes. Rub a small amount between your fingers to make sure all of the sugar grains have melted.

Transfer the bowl to the mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk at low speed until the mixture becomes completely opaque and begins to thicken, about 4 minutes. Raise the speed to medium and beat until thickened to soft peaks that barely hold their shape and flop over when the beater is lifted, 5 to 7 minutes. Finally, raise the speed to high and beat until glossy and thickened to medium-firm peaks that stand up stiffly but curl slightly at the tip when the beater is lifted, about 4 minutes more.

Using an offset spatula, apply the meringue thickly over the entire cake—don’t worry about spreading it smoothly or you’ll overwork the meringue (you may not need all of it). Then, repeatedly poke your fingertips into the meringue, pulling it into spikes all over the cake. Remove the waxed paper strips.

Using a kitchen torch, brown the meringue by holding the torch 2 to 3 inches from the meringue and waving the flame over the cake until it’s browned all over.

Make ahead: You can bake, cool, wrap, and store the cake layers at room temperature for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 1 month. You can refrigerate the assembled cake (without the meringue topping) for up to 4 hours before decorating it. Wait to make the meringue until you’re ready to finish the cake.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 700; Fat (g): 32; Fat Calories (kcal): 290; Saturated Fat (g): 21; Protein (g): 9; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): 96; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): 250; Cholesterol (mg): 145; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Web extra: Watch a video where Test Kitchen contributor Nicki Sizemore shows you how to make the meringue, sculpt it into peaks and spikes, and torch it for a toasty, caramelized finish.

I never would have thought about putting the meringue on the cake. I love coconut but this surpassed any I have ever made. My new all time favorite. MOIST! That is the key word and the flavors are not slight. Perfectly sweetened. A great recipe period. This one is not only for special occasions but every occasion now.

Fantastic. Turned out exactly like the picture and tasted divine... I made this for a cooking club, both because it's labor intensive and because I knew I would need help eating it all. Everyone LOVED it. It was even better the next day straight from the fridge! The cake is dense and moist, with a nice coconut flavor that isn't over powering. Tips: make sure your eggs are room temperature. Cook the custard filling until it really thickens, and then refrigerate for at least an hour - it is much less runny once it really cools. For the meringue - use a stand mixer if you can and don't give up! I only had a hand mixer with me and it took a long time to make the meringue, maybe 20+ min of mixing. Using my stand mixer would have been much easier/faster. I had a lot extra, so I made french meringues - drop tennis ball sized dollops on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and bake at 275F for two hours or so.

Absolutely loved this cake. Made it for a Christmas party at work and very one loved it. They wanted the recipe and I encouraged them to buy your magazine.

This cake turned out amazing! I stayed up very late to make this for my mom's birthday breakfast surprise.

Yes, a bit complicated, labor intensive, used a long list of ingredients ... but so worth it. I'm not a coconut fan but this won everyone over who had the opportunity to see how beautiful and how excellent tasting this cake is. This is a show stopper! Excellent day 1 and if you manage to have any leftovers, day 2 is even better. Highly recommend this. I made the cake layers 2 weeks before and froze them. Then on the day of assembly I took cake out freezer, made the filling and the meringue. I can't wait to find any excuse/occasion to make this again.

This cake truly is "Outrageous". The cake itself is a bit dense, the filling sweet but not too sweet. The meringue is far different than any other meringue I've had, but it is to die for. Give yourself plenty of time (several hours start to finish) to make this cake as it is very labor intensive. If you have a stand mixer, use it or you just might wear yourself out! Make it for a group of friends or family and they will be amazed!! Word to the wise... use wooden dowels or long picks to hold this cake together or the filling could cause the layers to slide. PS. I gave this cake 4 stars only because it is such a complicated recipe.

Very yummy. Time consuming, but great taste results. I should add that I turned these into cupcakes: I halved the recipe and it was enough to make 12 regular-sized cupcakes (with a bit of batter left over. I didn't have sour cream, so I used buttermilk in it's place; mixing it with the coconut milk and adding it together with that. I also added 1/3 cup coconut to the batter. Baked for 20 minutes or so (check after 15, but likely more than that). For the filling: I also halved the recipe for that. In that part of the recipe where it says "Mix 1 1/2 cups whipped cream with yolks", I used one yolk, and 3/4 cup liquid: half whipped cream and half coconut milk (leftover from the coconut milk used in the recipe, this upped the coconut flavour and turned out wonderfully. I'm sure you could replace even more of the whipped cream with coconut milk with fine results. I used only whipped cream as the final addition in the final step of the filling, as indicated in the recipe ("Whip the remaining half cup cream and fold into mixture", but using only 1/4 cup whipped cream). Once the cupcakes were cooled, I cut out a hole from the top of the cupcake and filled it with the filling. For the Meringue Icing I scaled back to 3 egg whites (and adjusted the other ingredients accordingly). Just two egg whites would have been sufficient to ice these cupcakes.

I am rating on taste only. If you love coconut then you will love this cake. My co-worker made this for the office and it was delicious! We all agreed it was even BETTER a day later after sitting in the refrigerator. One co-worker successfully froze 1/2 of the cake for a week and thawed for 8 hours. She said it looked the same as it did when first made and tasted wonderful.

Best cake EVER!

Just a reminder to those who have problems with meringue... IF your eggs are cold it takes 20 timEs as long to fluff them up.

Mixed reviews on this one. The filling was decadent..yum. My meringue was a total flop. I used egg whites out of a carton and next time I think I'll use regular egg whites. Made this for Easter dinner and nobody seemed impressed, but I took the leftovers to work the next day and people went crazy over it. I think you have to like very rich cakes to enjoy this one.

This cake is amazing. The first time I attempted to make a version of this, I made cupcakes with the batter. I never got much further because everyone ate all of the cupcakes. On my second attempt, I made the cake and the coconut custard filling, but skipped the meringue. The cake was dense and moist but the flavor was unlike anything I've had before. The custard filling is delicious as well. One of my friends claimed that it was the best cake she had ever tasted. Very special and worth all of the steps to celebrate or just to indulge!

This was one of the very best and most beautiful cakes I have ever made. I too had a problem with the filling being very runny. How long did everyone simmer this. I thought it would firm up like pudding but it did not.

This was probably the most delicious cake I've ever had. The dramatic presentation and decadent flavour has made me quite popular at the office. The dreamy meringue pairs perfectly with the dense moist cake. This will definitely be one of my signature recipes.

When I saw this cake, I knew I had to make it. My mother was the champion coconut cream pie maker. It felt as if I was baking this cake in her honor. Because of the calorie count, I made this for a potluck. I knew we couldn't afford to have this lucious treat around the house for several days. I counted on friends at the potluck to share in the calories. My 13 year old granddaughter helped me and we had a blast. The cake turned out fantastic and I had one friend tell me that she wanted to have her husband pay me to bake one for her birthday. Definitely a winner! Mine looked just like the picture.

This cake turned out fabulous! I followed the directions exactly and the meringue was beautiful and the cake tasted great! One tip is to make sure you use egg whites from eggs and not the pre-packaged carton egg whites for the meringue. The first time I used the pre-packaged egg whites and the meringue never got stiff. I then started over using eggs and it worked perfect! I will definitely make this again!

This was the first time I've ever made a cake totally from scratch...it was so good, every one raved about it. I was anxious to get it done so I didn't let the cake get completely cooled or the filling completely to room temperature and when I put it together it started to fall a bit. I held it together with wooden skewers until it was properly cooled...note to self, follow the instructions properly next time...and there will be a next time!!!

My husband made this cake for christmas eve dinner. The tast was very good however I found it fell short on texture. I don't know if he beat the egg whites long enough to really get enough air in them but the cake turned out very dense. The filling just seemed to absorb into the cake and when you ate it seemed no existant. The meringue was a disaster.. I am not sure if we did not mix it long enough or maybe it was too long but I thought it was at the soft peak stage. When we went to put it on the cake it dripped down off the sides.. we did not get the messy look of the magazine picture. Although the taste was good I don't think I will be making this one again.

My husband made this cake for christmas eve dinner. The tast was very good however I found it fell short on texture. I don't know if he beat the egg whites long enough to really get enough air in them but the cake turned out very dense. The filling just seemed to absorb into the cake and when you ate it seemed no existant. The meringue was a disaster.. I am not sure if we did not mix it long enough or maybe it was too long but I thought it was at the soft peak stage. When we went to put it on the cake it dripped down off the sides.. we did not get the messy look of the magazine picture. Although the taste was good I don't think I will be making this one again.

I really looked forward to making and serving this cake for Christmas dinner, since coconut cake is such a specialty of the South, but something went terribly wrong along the way. When I added the whipped cream to the custard filling, it simply squirted out from between the layers and ran down the sides of the cake. I decided to put the leftover into the refrigerator to stiffen it up and then spread it over the cake and forget about the meringue. This is what I did, and sprinkled the top with the rest of the toasted coconut. The layers were the most dense cake I have ever made. Did anyone else have a similar experience?

I made this cake again for a friend and the second time it came out much better. The meringue works just like the recipe calls for, but you have to follow the times exactly. I also added about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tartar to the whipped egg white in the meringue to firm the peaks. It worked beautifully.

This has got to be the best cake I have had in years! It is perfectly moist, and the filling is just delicious! Then the meringue adds the perfect touch to it! Definitely a keeper!

Delicious! Definitely dense as the other reviewers have mentioned, more the texture of a pound cake than a typically fluffy one. The recipe says you won't use all the meringue, and I'd say I used half of it. It was also very labor intensive, especially when you only own a hand mixer! Allow time for bringing things to room temperature. Nice light coconut flavor, not too sweet, waist-line guilt factor very high. Fun presentation.

I 've made many recipes from Fine Cooking and they have all been more than perfect. This one was a total flop. I followed every direction carefully. I think some of the instrctions could have been more precise. Nothing about it worked. I patched it up and decided maybe at least it would taste good. WRONG!!!!! The cake is dense and pretty much tasteless. It was moist---but that's about the only positive thing that can be said. After I wrote this review I gave the cake to my friends. They LOVED the cake. They said it was the best cake they ever ate. They usually hated coconut cakes but now they want me to give them cooking lessons. I think I need a lesson myself to make this cake without destroying my kitchen and feeling like a failure. But it is good my friends loved it so much. They ate it all in about one hour.

Stunning cake. The browning of the meringue is fun. Cake a bit dense but really delicious if you like coconut.

Very good cake. Mine turned out very dense which I like but I would like to know how to lighten it or make it fluffier. I don't have a torch to brown the egg whites so I used a very light and fluffy buttercream frosting with the left over coconut milk instead of plain milk. Really good.

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