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Coconut Cake with Buttercream Frosting and Raspberry Sauce

Posted Apr 23 2009 12:53am




Tomorrow is my coworker’s last day at work, as she is moving off the island.  Given my reputation at work as the “baking RD” (hello, I’m the one who baked a gazillion Red Velvet Cupcakes for every floor of the hospital on Valentine’s Day), it isn’t very surprising that for her going-away potluck, I was unanimously assigned to bring dessert.  So when I asked my coworker what her favorite dessert was, she said something either chocolate or coconut, but it had to be cake.  And given that I’ve never made a coconut cake before, it was my window of opportunity to make a new recipe!

After researching tons of coconut cake recipes online, I found a problem - a LOT of them had tons of butter, coconut milk, and heavy frosting.  I didn’t want to send my coworkers, or myself, into food coma right after lunch, so I found an excellent recipe from Cooking Light.  No need to substitute or cut anything down, just made it as is.  And the cake turned out amazing!  I didn’t have any light coconut milk so substituted half regular coconut milk and half water - the cake had a tender crumb and seemed to melt in your mouth -  it is definitely something I’d make again.  Oh, and to add color and a contrast in flavors, I made a simple raspberry sauce using some Truvia sweetener packets that I got as samples in the mail.

One problem though - the frosting.  It’s a little tricky, this thing.  First, you have to boil sugar and water - but using a candy thermometer that registers up to 250°F.  I only have a meat thermometer that goes up to 200°F, and I don’t even use it.  In fact, whenever it was Thanksgiving and my mom would make a turkey (mind you - it was always a turkey over 25 pounds because we have about 30 family members over for any holiday party), she never used a thermometer, and the turkey always came out perfectly roasted.  It always made me a little nervous, but she has that instinct cooking for crowds, and there has never been an undercooked turkey!

So that’s where my feeling of “I don’t need a thermometer - I can just rely on my gut feeling!” attitude came in.  Candy thermometer?  Fuggetaboutit.  I will just go with “about 3 minutes” boiling time for the sugar syrup and breeze on from there.  And from there it was a great frosting, really light, coconut-y and tasty - but when I put it in the fridge to chill before frosting the cake, it collected a little pool of liquid on the bottom of the bowl!  Ugh - this probably happened because I beat the egg whites till they were at soft peaks before streaming in the hot sugar (the recipe says to beat the egg whites till foamy, then stream in the sugar while beating, then to beat till fluffy), and then continued to beat them for another 12 minutes as the recipe stated.

Beating those egg whites to a pulp probably broke the egg proteins and caused them to liquify once settled - but good thing I didn’t totally destroy them because it didn’t all collapse into a pool of sorrow.  So I just scooped the non-liquified frosting onto the cake, and it set just fine in the fridge sans any more liquification (yes, I was nervous).  I really liked the flavor of the frosting (in fact, I licked my spatula when done frosting the cake), but it was a pain-in-the-woohoo to make and kind of runny (probably because of my previous said mistake).  Next time I do this I’ll make sure not to overbeat the egg whites before streaming in the sugar syrup.  If you don’t want to bother with the trouble, just make the cream cheese frosting from my red velvet cupcakes - that’s no-fail! :)

Coconut Cake with Buttercream Frosting

recipe from

Instead of using 3 8-inch round pans (because I don’t have 3), I used one 9-inch pan and cut it in half after baking to put the filling inside.

Yield:  16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

  • Cooking spray
  • 1  tablespoon  cake flour
  • 2 1/2  cups  cake flour (about 10 ounces)
  • 2  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  cups  sugar
  • 6  tablespoons  butter, softened
  • 1/4  cup  egg substitute
  • 2  large eggs
  • 3/4  cup  light coconut milk
  • 1/4  teaspoon  coconut extract
  • For the frosting:
  • 1  cup  sugar
  • 1/4  cup  water
  • 5  large egg whites
  • 1/2  teaspoon  cream of tartar
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  cup  butter, softened
  • 1/4  teaspoon  coconut extract (optional)
  • 3  tablespoons  toasted flaked sweetened coconut

Preparation: Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cake, coat 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Lightly coat wax paper with cooking spray; dust pans with 1 tablespoon flour.

Lightly spoon 2 1/2 cups flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Place 2 cups sugar and 6 tablespoons butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes or until well blended. Add egg substitute and eggs to sugar mixture; beat well. Add flour mixture and coconut milk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon extract.

Spoon batter into prepared pans. Sharply tap the pans once on countertop to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks; remove from pans. Remove wax paper; discard. Cool cakes on wire racks.

To prepare frosting, combine 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes, without stirring, or until a candy thermometer registers 250°. Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; using clean, dry beaters, beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low; continue beating until egg white mixture cools (about 12 minutes).

Beat 1/4 cup butter until light and fluffy; stir in 1/4 teaspoon extract, if desired. Fold in 1 cup egg white mixture. Fold butter mixture into remaining egg white mixture, stirring until smooth.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1 cup frosting. Repeat twice with cake layers and 1 cup frosting, ending with cake layer; spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Chill until set.

Nutrition Information:
Calories: 317 (25% from fat)
Fat: 8.8g (sat 5.5g,mono 0.3g,poly 0.2g)
Protein: 4.4g
Carbohydrate: 55.6g
Fiber: 0.4g
Cholesterol: 45mg
Iron: 1.9mg
Sodium: 267mg
Calcium: 10mg

Recipe from Jan Moon, Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2006

Raspberry Sauce

makes about 2 1/2 cups

1 12-oz package frozen raspberries, thawed

3-4 packets Truvia or sweetener of choice

1.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the raspberries and Truvia.  Stir while cooking, breaking up the raspberries to form a thick sauce.  Add any extra sugar to taste.  Continue to stir and wait for the sauce to bubble and slightly thicken.  Take off the heat; if you want to make it smooth, puree the raspberry sauce in a food processor until smooth.  As for me, my brain has already checked out and it’s time to take my dog on a walk. :)

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