Chocolate Coconut “Candy Bar” Cake
12 servings
Adapted from Steak and Cake: More than 100 Recipes to Makes Any Meal a Smash Hit by Elizabeth KarmelI made some tweaks to the original recipe, which called for natural cocoa powder. I used Dutched-process and it turned out fine. (You can read more on the subject at my Cocoa Powder FAQs.) I also didn’t use cake flour, because I didn’t have it, but if you want to use that, you can substitute 2 1/4 cups of cake flour for the all-purpose flour, and increase the milk to 1 1/3 cups, which were in the original recipe.Sweetened shredded coconut gives this cake its “candy bar” flavor, but you can use freshly grated or unsweetened shredded or grated coconut. Try to find one that’s coarsely shredded or grated, for textural appeal and character.
For the cake
2/3 cup (140g) coconut oil, preferably virgin (which has more coconut flavor)
1 2/3 cups (330g) sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (70g) unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutched-process, sifted if lumpy
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1 1/4 cups (310ml) whole milk
2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar or a few drops of lemon juice
pinch salt
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (300g) shredded sweetened coconut (see headnote for other options)
To make the cake layers
1. To make the cake layers, grease two 9-inch (23cm) cake pans with non-stick spray or butter. Line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper or silicone baking mats, which’ll help ensure the layers release easily, although aren’t necessary. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the coconut oil and sugar on medium-high speed until well-combined. (You can also mix the batter in a large bowl with a spoon or spatula.) It may look a little ragged but will come together when you add the eggs in the next step.
3. Add the eggs one a time, stopping the mixer after each addition to scrape down the sides, to incorporate the eggs.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. In a measuring cup, mix together the milk, instant coffee (if using), and vanilla.
5. On low speed, stir one-third of the flour mixture into the beaten coconut oil mixture. Add half of the milk, then another third of the dry ingredients (which, technically, is half of what’s left in the bowl). Add the rest of the milk then the remaining flour mixture. Stir until smooth.
6. Divide the batter into the two prepared cake pans, smooth the top, and bake until the center of the cakes feel just set, 25 to 30 minutes. (A toothpick inserted into the center will come out almost clean.) Let the cakes cool on a wire rack.
To make the frosting
7. In a small (2 quart/2L) saucepan, fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the sugar, water, cream of tartar or lemon juice, and pinch of salt over medium heat. Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment.
8. When the temperature of the syrup reaches about 225ºF (108ºC), begin whipping the egg whites on medium speed. As the syrup climbs toward 242ºF (117ºC), increase the speed to high, and whip the whites until they’re stiff enough to hold a peak. (If you don’t have a candy thermometer, Elizabeth says the syrup is done “until the syrup spins a thin 8-inch/21cm thread when poured from a spoon.”)With the mixer running, slowly beat the syrup into the egg whites, trying to pour the syrup in the space next to the side of the bowl, not on a beater. (Which will cause it to splatter onto the sides of the bowl, and not go into the egg whites.)
9. Once the syrup has been added, beat in the vanilla. Stop the mixer and using a spatula, fold in the coconut.
10. Remove the cake layers from the pans and peel off any parchment paper or silicone cake pan liners. Set one layer of the cake on a cake platter. Spread one-third of the slightly warm coconut frosting on the top of the cake layer. Place the second layer of cake on top of the frosted cake layer, then spread the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake.