If there is any one dish that I am known for, it is my coconut cake. When I say known, I do not mean known like the way that say, Jamie Oliver is known. I simply mean that within my circle of friends and family, people tend to remember that I make a coconut cake and that I make it well. Take for example, my stepfather who, after splitting up with my Mother for ten years, upon finally re-uniting with her said to me the first time I visited them in their new home, “Hi Tov, when are you gonna make me a coconut cake?” NotI “It’s been a while”, not “how are you”, but “make me a coconut cake”.
My recent trip home to the east coast was a perfect opportunity to tweak my recipe just a little bit more for the people who love my coconut cake the best. This time I took inspiration from Smitten Kitchen and used a variation on this cake for the base. Oh, and I made it gluten-free to accommodate my grandmother who has Celiac disease, by simply substituting this for regular flour.
The Best Coconut Cake (So Far)
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups mascarpone
confectioner’s sugar to taste (about ½ cup alltogether)
1 tall, round white or yellow cake cut horizontally in half
2 small round white or yellow cakes trimmed so that they fit on top of each other neatly
1 can coconut milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup coconut shavings
Preheat the oven to 325
Mix the shredded coconut with mascarpone in a bowl. Sweeten to taste using confectioner’s sugar (regular sugar leave a grainy texture). Set aside
Place one cake or cake half on a serving platter or cake stand. Using a fork, poke a few holes in the top of the cake. Just a few. You want it to still maintain structure. Open the can of coconut milk and mix well to be sure that the creamy layer on top is incorporated into the more liquid layer underneath. Drizzle lightly over the top of the cake and into the holes you poked with the fork. Be sure not to flood the cake - you want the coconut milk to be absorbed by the cake, adding moisture and infusing it with flavor, but not creating too wet or sticky of texture.
Spread all of the coconut-mascarpone mixture over the coconut-soaked bottom layer of your cake. Use a butter knife to make a smooth, even coating. Then carefully top with other cake/half-cake. Poke a few holes in the top layer of cake as well and lightly drizzle with coconut milk again.
Add the vanilla extract to the heavy cream in a large bowl. Sweeten to your liking with more confectioner’s sugar (I like it just barely sweet - a tablespoon or two). Whip the cream into stiff peaks. You want it a bit thicker than typical whipped cream - think spreadable. Use the cream to frost the cake all the way around. I generally make a mess while doing this and clean it up and smooth it out later.
Toast the coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet, keeping an eye on it so that it reaches a perfect golden brown and does not burn. This generally takes about five minutes. Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the top of the cake. Chill until ready to serve.