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Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Coconut Frosting

Scott Phillips

Servings: 12 to 16

Baking the layers at 300°F keeps the cake exceptionally moist. Serve it at room temperature; the coconut softens when refrigerated.


For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 6 oz. (12 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into six pieces
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. (3 cups) cake flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2-1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. table salt

For the buttercream frosting:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 to 2 tsp. coconut extract (or to taste)
  • 1 lb. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, softened (but not at all melted)
  • 4 cups large-shaved coconut (fresh or desiccated), toasted

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on 16 servings
  • Calories (kcal) : 660
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 410
  • Fat (g): 46
  • Saturated Fat (g): 30
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11
  • Cholesterol (mg): 210
  • Sodium (mg): 430
  • Carbohydrates (g): 63
  • Fiber (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 5


Make the cake:

  • Heat the oven to 300°F. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment (there’s no need to grease the pans).
  • Put the cocoa powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Pour the boiling water over the cocoa and whisk until smooth. Add the butter and sour cream and blend on low speed until the butter melts. Let the mixture cool for a minute if still very hot, and then add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Let cool for 10 min.
  • Meanwhile, sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the butter mixture, scraping down the sides once or twice. Increase the speed to medium and blend for another 3 minutes.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until the center of the cake feels firm and the cake just barely begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 50 min. to 1 hour (begin checking after 45 minutes). Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting:

  • Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and coconut milk. Stir to combine and then bring to a boil. As the mixture heats, begin whipping the eggs on high speed. Boil the coconut milk and sugar until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (238°F on a candy thermometer). Remove the mixture from the heat. Stop the mixer and pour a small amount of the syrup into the egg yolks. Quickly beat on high again. Repeat twice more until all the syrup is incorporated. (You can also add the sugar syrup in a steady stream with the mixer on, but be careful not to let it hit the beater or the syrup will be flung to the sides of the bowl where it will harden.) Continue beating until the mixture is cool.
  • Add the coconut extract. With the mixer on medium speed, begin beating in the butter 1 or 2 Tbs. at a time. When the butter is completely incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat another 1 minutes.
  • Use the frosting right away to fill and frost the cooled cake, or cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use. Pat on a generous coating of the shaved toasted coconut over the sides and top and, if you like, between the layers.

Make Ahead Tips

The buttercream can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. Bring chilled buttercream to room temperature before using, beating briefly to smooth it, if necessary.


Rate or Review

Reviews (3 reviews)

  • Epicskatingmom | 05/20/2020

    This is the best chocolate cake I have ever made. Even better than the Chocolate Whiskey cake which is a favourite. I plan to use this cake with the ganache and homemade marshmallows from another Fine Cooking recipe just for fun. My only tip is to watch the coconut like a hawk when it is toasting because it goes from white to dark brown in a split second.

  • LisaT123 | 04/12/2012

    This cake is fantastic and a big hit with all. Chill the cake after frosting and applying the toasted coconut so that the frosting sets up.

  • Jason123 | 12/06/2009

    This was a very pretty cake which tasted good, but the frosting was excessively rich. You also needed to use alot in order to get the coconut to stick.

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