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Coconut Cake And Cream Cheese Buttercream

Coconut Cake-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 First of all, let me start by saying that your comments and emails about the book were a wonderful balm for the soul. Ya’ll rock! It won’t be for a while that you’ll be able to put it on your shelves but I will make sure to keep the whole journey somewhat interactive. I am sure that in a couple of months, I will need some recipe testers….for the 3rd or 4th time I verify everything works.

Now, I hope you all had a great 4th of July with fireworks a plenty and good times with family and friends. We decided to gather the neighborhood at the dock and make a day of it. We caught crabs, grilled, took rides on the boat, and throughout the day we came and went as we pleased, refilling on sunscreen or beverages. I got to tell you, finishing with the fireworks over the water was quite a snapshot to engrave in one’s memory! B. made the joke that I should savour the moment since I won’t be having any of that next week for Bastille Day…ah yes…well, I am here now. And happy. And licking my fingers off the last piece of coconut cake I brought back from our little get together.

As often goes on the weekends here, I did not know until this morning how the day would unravel, I only knew that I was supposed to bring cake. They asked for an all American dessert, possibly cake, and please none of that Opera thing or Saint Honore wheel….Sheesh….Okay, okay…I get it already! I have been craving this good old American staple, Coconut Cake for ages but since B. hates the texture of coconut I always made a pass. Hmmm….since there will be a large group, I now had a reason and he could have brownies instead.

Now here are the funny parts of this story, well at least to me. Early in the afternoon his mom called needing his help in the yard, she asked about our plans and inquired about my dessert. I could taste the coconut on my lips as I was telling her about the cake only to hear her reply "But B. doesn’t like coconut!". I told her what I wrote above"he’ll have brownies instead". He got home couple of hours later with a freshly baked apple pie! His mom had also written "B.’s Pie" on it and he proudly carried it to the dock with that "Look what my mama made me" kind of step. Everytime someone asked for pie, I would hear "may I have some B.’s Pie?" "is there any of B.’s Pie left?"….and the man cannot bake!!

What seemed rather comical to everybody but me as I seem to have misplaced some of my head lately (if you find it, let me know) is that I intended to make a 4 layer cake only to realise when we cut into it that the 4th layer was still on the countertop back at the house…Oops! The worst being that I first walked all the way to the dock without the cake. Bigger oops! My excuse is that I was being distracted by this adorable creature.

Allright…the cake. It is a pretty straightforward but super moist sponge cake flavored with coconut milk and the layers get a good dousing of coconut liqueur (I am giving you to conservative amount, feel free to add). For the buttercream, I could not decide between a plain buttercream or a cream cheese frosting so I changed things around and mixed softened cream cheese to an Italian meringue buttercream. And.Oh.My! Turned out deliciously smooth and rich without being cloyingly sweet. Loved it!

I need to mention that the pink topping is not sanding sugar but rather pink and white fairy floss that a reader, Sadiya, sent me all the way from Bahrain a few weeks ago, along with some wonderful local pastries and chocolate. With the heat and humidity here, the poor floss has become a big chunk of sugar so I took the mortar and pestle and crushed some up to top the cake with.

Coconut Cake-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Coconut Cake:

Seves 8-10
Printable Recipe

For the cake:
6 large eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut liqueur such as Malibu for soaking in the layers

Separate the egg whites from the yolks in 2 different (well cleaned) bowls.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl or over a piece of parchment paper that you can easily pick up when the time comes to add the flour to the batter in progress.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream 1 cup of the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
In a small bowl, or a measuring bowl with a spout (easier to pour), combine the buttermilk and the coconut milk. Set aside.
Turn the mixer to low speed and alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the butter, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
If you have only one KA bowl, pour this mixture into a large mixing bowl while you whip the egg whites.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until you get nice stiff peaks. Stop before the meringue becomes dry.
Gently fold the egg whites into the flour/butter mixture.
Pour the cake batter into 2 separate 9X9 square inch pans and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes at 350F or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool, in their pans, for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a greased cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Buttercream:
3 sticks butter at room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 egg whites
1 cup sugar divided
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. coconut extract
1 cup coconut flakes

In the bowl of stand mixer, whip 5 egg whites until they have soft peaks. Slowly add 1/4 cup of sugar until you get a glossy meringue. In the meantime, combine 1/4 cup water with 3/4 cup sugar to a boil in a heavy saucepan and bring the syrup to 250F. Slowly add the sugar syrup to the egg whites. If you use hand beaters, this is even easier and there is less hot syrup splatter on the side of your bowl and in the whisk attachment of the stand mixer. Continue to whip until the meringue is completely cooled. Slowly add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. The mass might curdle but no panic, continue to whip until it all comes together. Add the cream cheese, the same way, a little at a time until everything is smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
Slice each cake square into 2 pieces horizontally. Brush the bottom layer with some coconut liqueur, spread 1/3 cup of the buttercream over and add another layer of cake and repeat the soaking and layering. Finish by frosting the entire surface of the cake and sprinkle coconut flakes all over…..and eat!

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Anonymous July 5, 2008 um 7:37 am

I want to wish all the best for your book.
I read your blog since March,what a distraction from the
"life stress"!!!
While I live in Rome(Italy) I must to make a "self book" of your blog
certainly I must to wait more then the others for a copy of your book!!!
Today I was in search for a dessert for my friends (Devil Food Cake) and voila' is your "fresh" dessert coming!!!

Manggy July 5, 2008 um 7:39 am

You never cease to amaze me– if it were me I would have cried over my clumped-up pashmak/pismaniye! Though I’m not a fan of coconut, the cake still looks really pretty and the buttercream recipe looks really good! 🙂

Anonymous July 5, 2008 um 7:39 am

I forgot a big big big thank you!!!

Christy July 5, 2008 um 8:35 am

Oh, talk about being absent-minded. I think I left my head somewhere too. I made pate sucree the other day and forgot to put eggs in the dough. And the worst part is, I didn’t realise that oh-so-obvious fact while I was rolling out the too-crumbly-to handle dough. I only figured out what went wrong when I looked into my egg carton to find two extra eggs; by then my tart shells were already sitting smugly on the table!!

On another note, what a lovely summer you seem to be having there..I hate winter, no matter what other people may say about the season. Beautiful cake, and what perfect raspberries!

PS. I’ll gladly be one of your recipe testers, if you don’t already have a long wait list of people who’ve offered!

Rosa's Yummy Yums July 5, 2008 um 8:38 am

So delicate looking! Such things happen, but they always tend to be highly annoying…



Cannelle Et Vanille July 5, 2008 um 10:02 am

What a way to spend 4th of Jult… fireworks at the dock… how romantic is that! And even though I love making Opera and St Honore and all the fancy cakes, I love a good old slice of American style cakes when they are moist and room temperature and creamy… I can see how moist this one is Helen. Delicious!

Anonymous July 5, 2008 um 10:40 am

Wauuu, quel délice!!

Anonymous July 5, 2008 um 11:11 am

Oh Helen, I was so excited when I saw your post. Coconut Cake is one of the top 10 reasons I moved to Charleston. It is my favorite and I can’t wait till my birthday to have my Coconut Cake fix, which makes up for the fact that I am a year older. Bookmarking this recipe for the bday. Cute story and glad you had a good Fourth.

Meeta K. Wolff July 5, 2008 um 12:19 pm

Ok so tell me you did not just act like it was supposed to be a 3 layer cake? knowing you you probably blushed red like those raspberries and blurted everything out. LOL! I’ll tell you that 3 layer cake looks perfect to me and if you had not spilled the beans no one would have known!

LizNoVeggieGirl July 5, 2008 um 12:24 pm

Sounds like you had a lovely 4th of July. The "B.’s Pie" story is quite funny; and Sullivan is such a cute puppy!! :0)

My oh my, you never disappoint with those fabulous baked goods of yours, Helen!! That cake looks PHENOMENAL!!

Anonymous July 5, 2008 um 12:27 pm

Another big congratulations on your book! And that cake looks wonderful. Coconut is my honey’s favorite, so I’ll have to bookmark this one for him!

MyKitchenInHalfCups July 5, 2008 um 1:29 pm

Somehow I can just see the man’s strut carrying that pie!
The cake looks deserving of a big 4th of July but I’d have been playing with Sullivan!

Anonymous July 5, 2008 um 2:50 pm

What a pretty little cake! I love the retro 50’s look. I bet it tastes mighty fine, too!

Sounds like you have a book deal – congrats! As a cook book author I can tell you that it’s an interesting journey getting from advance to shelf. Good luck!

LyB July 5, 2008 um 3:01 pm

I’ve never even made that kind of buttercream but the thought of adding cream cheese to it sounds delicious! You are amazing, that cake looks so beautiful.

Susan @ SGCC July 5, 2008 um 3:05 pm

Coconut cake is one of my all time favorites! Yours looks so delicate and delicious! I’m sure it was a big hit!

Philo aux fourneaux – Blog culinaire July 5, 2008 um 3:07 pm

C’est vraiment très beau, j’aimerai bien y goûter

Dewi July 5, 2008 um 3:13 pm

May I have a slice of B’s pie? L O L !!!!!

Perfect cake for the 4th of July…. Cheers

Sunshinemom July 5, 2008 um 4:05 pm

I am out of adjectives having said it all one time or another – scrumptious, delicious, lovely….etc.etc.

Sunshinemom July 5, 2008 um 4:05 pm

I am out of adjectives having said it all one time or another – scrumptious, delicious, lovely….etc.etc.

Cecilia July 5, 2008 um 4:11 pm

Your neighborhood seems like the one I dreamed of living in when I was growing up, where everyone knows your name and stuff. What a special way to celebrate the Fourth!

The coconut cake looks divine! They recently had a special on coconut cakes on Food Network, and I’ve been craving some since then. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Little Sullivan is a cutie.

Anonymous July 5, 2008 um 5:47 pm

I’m sure you get this a lot but that looks way to good to dig into.

Jenny July 5, 2008 um 6:10 pm

Yum yum yum.
Oh yes, and Memememmememememememe when you need testers! 🙂
Yes, I am very enthusiastic about your book!

Mary July 5, 2008 um 6:55 pm

The cake is so pretty and sounds delicious! And I would be completely distracted by the puppy. He’s so cute!

cindy* July 5, 2008 um 7:17 pm

beautiful! i heart coconut…and malibu. also, i would be more than happy to test run some of your recipes…how exciting for you!

Anonymous July 5, 2008 um 7:51 pm

As always, the cake looks stunning. I can’t believe you had the courage to turn the oven on in this heat. I just can’t do it in this heat! However, when the cooler weather comes I will be a willing tester!

Peabody July 5, 2008 um 8:09 pm

I would be distracted by the cute puppy as well.
I have done the missing layer more times than I would like to omit. 🙂
The coconut cake looks super yummy! You can send the leftovers my way.

glamah16 July 5, 2008 um 8:29 pm

Sounds like you had a great 4TH! Recipe Tester? :-). Oh please! That dog is adorable.

Dita July 5, 2008 um 8:38 pm

Good luck for your book, Helen. I’m so curious about the buttercream. You always make me could practically taste your recipe. Nice work!

Chris July 5, 2008 um 9:00 pm

Helen, next time we chat, will you promise to say Y’all? I need to hear it in a French accent. Ha! 🙂

My Sweet & Saucy July 5, 2008 um 9:09 pm

Love this cake…sounds delicious! Can’t wait for your book!!!

Fit Chick July 5, 2008 um 9:22 pm

Great looking and I am sure tasting cake. I love coconut can’t wait to make it. Do I need to butter or use parchment paper in the pans?
I’m sure your book will be wonderful and will take it’s place in my kitchen.

Anonymous July 6, 2008 um 1:13 am

What a lovely cake (and the story, of course)!

Cynthia July 6, 2008 um 3:26 am

So dainty, so beautiful.

Anonymous July 6, 2008 um 3:59 am

That cake is beautiful! The frosting sounds delicious. I love anything with coconut. I didn’t know you were from Charleston- it’s always nice to "meet" fellow South Carolina food bloggers!

RecipeGirl July 6, 2008 um 5:14 am

I must have missed the blog post on your book. congrats! Fun stuff.

This cake is just plain PRETTY!

grace July 6, 2008 um 10:43 am

aaaah, cream cheese buttercream, the best of both worlds. it sounds absolutely delectable. and although it’s a bit different from the coconut cake of my childhood (totally southern-style), i don’t discriminate. 🙂

Tarah at Genesis of a Cook July 6, 2008 um 2:00 pm

Good luck on your book! Hope the stress isn’t getting to you too much!

Side from that, your cake looks simply amazing. I so want to make this!

Anonymous July 6, 2008 um 2:21 pm

One of my favorites!

mimi July 6, 2008 um 4:52 pm

i missed your original post, so here are some belated big congrats on the upcoming book!! how exciting, and truly, your book will be one that i will definitely be looking forward to. oh yeah, and this cake looks gorgeous and delish too!

Anonymous July 6, 2008 um 8:19 pm

Best of luck to you with the book, Helen.

You should be proud of that cake; it’s a real skill.

Anonymous July 7, 2008 um 12:19 am

OOh look at that pink striping! Even with coconut (which I loathe) it looks really delicious!

and definitely count me in for recipe testing!!

Sylvia July 7, 2008 um 1:25 am

Is always a pleasure visit your blog
Your recipes and gorgeous photos amaze me like the first time that I discovered you
I love coconut and coconut milk as well.The cake is simply stunning

Cookie baker Lynn July 7, 2008 um 3:47 am

Isn’t it great to have an excuse to make a dessert that normally doesn’t sell at home? Your cake looks delightful. How resourceful you are to take a mortar and pestle to the candy floss!

Joanna Schmidt July 7, 2008 um 1:41 pm

it looks like pink perfection confection

Kelly-Jane July 7, 2008 um 7:25 pm

This cake really appeals to me, light, delicate and so girly!

Mansi July 7, 2008 um 7:36 pm

This looks spectacular, and just the recipe I was looking for! I’ve printed it out and will try it this weekend! good luck with your book Helene!:)

Jerri at Simply Sweet Home July 7, 2008 um 9:45 pm

your cake is lovely!

Anonymous July 8, 2008 um 3:08 am

the cake looks wonderful!! so delicate and beautiful!!

Anonymous July 8, 2008 um 9:40 pm

Hi Tartelette 🙂

First off, I have to say, that coconut cake looks marvelous, as well as scrumptious. Not to mention, your blog is amazing, the photography, breathtaking, and recipes, out of this world.

That said, I could not find an email to contact you, as I have a question regarding macarons, and you are definitely the queen of the macs! Am I missing a contact or email link anywhere in your blog?

Finally, I just participated in my first SHF last month (mmm…Canada, even though I’m not from), and was wondering when the next SHF was?


Lori July 8, 2008 um 11:37 pm

The cake looks so light and luscious. My father has been asking for a coconut cake. I think I will have to give yours a go.

The fresh cheese sounds amazing too. I think I need a cow in my backyard! Especioally the way prices keep going up. Of course the feed for the cow would be pretty hefty price as well. he he

Fifi Flowers July 9, 2008 um 5:02 am

yum… I’m going to try that filling/frosting… yummmmmmmeeeee!

I’m working on sketched from the idea you gave me! Will show SOON!

• friX • July 9, 2008 um 5:32 pm

this looks really lovely, with the nice light colour and everything…

Patricia Scarpin July 10, 2008 um 1:21 pm

Helen, coconut is something we deeply love here in Brazil – we’ll drink the water, too! 🙂
I love these slices of cake, they look ethereal!

Deborah July 10, 2008 um 6:50 pm

Now that’s a gorgeous cake! I love coconut, and this has my mouth watering!

Anonymous August 1, 2008 um 7:29 pm

Wow! I hope I buy enough coconut. Every time I try to follow a recipe with coconut, I wind up eating it right from the package. Gonna try this soon. Thanks.

Cat August 28, 2008 um 9:01 pm

Your cake looks marvOlous! Can I substitute a powder called Just Whites or meriguine powder by Wilton?

Unknown September 13, 2008 um 4:36 am

I’m looking forward to trying this buttercream on a birthday cake I will be making in a couple of weeks. The recipe says "one cup of sugar, divided" but the only direction for using it is to make the syrup with 3/4 cup of it. What do we do with the other 1/4 cup of sugar? Thanks!

Helene September 13, 2008 um 5:37 am

j-ro: all fixed! Thanks for noticing that. Did not have time to correct the printable recipe though.

Unknown September 13, 2008 um 3:18 pm

Thank you, Tartelette! I have made many Italian meringue buttercreams but have never thought to use cream cheese. I am very excited to try it out.

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