Chocolate Coconut Cream Cake


Chocolate Coconut Cream CakeThis tall, elegant, Chocolate Coconut Cream Cake is perfect for a change-up Easter cake.    I have always wondered why coconut is associated with Easter.  My search yielded no help.  But it is and this Chocolate Coconut Cream Cake is a surprise twist on my traditional Coconut Cream Cake.  Changing the cake layer from white chiffon to chocolate chiffon completely changes the cake.

Chiffon cakes are the lightest and tenderest of cakes and this chocolate chiffon cake is no exception.  Chiffon cakes are in the foam cake family.  They depend a great deal on beaten egg whites to obtain their lightness and height.  Angel food cakes are the quintessential foam cake, but unlike and angel food cake, the chiffons use oil which lends a great deal of tenderness to the cake and the foam is supported by a leavening agent.  In the case of this chocolate chiffon cake, both baking soda and baking powder are used.  Because both are included, either natural or dutched cocoa can be used.

The pastry cream, as well as the cake, can be made ahead so the cake can be assembled the day before. The completed Chocolate Coconut Cream Cake can be made and frozen in its entirety if desired.  Thaw it in the refrigerator a day or two before serving.

A note about the cream.  There are two names for the same cream – 40% cream or Heavy Cream.  They both denote that the fat is at least 40% which makes a huge difference when using it as a finish as it requires no stabilization.  Normal whipping cream is 36% fat which makes it lighter and does not hold up when frozen.  At the restaurant and at the bakery we use only 40% cream when whipping cream is called for.

Whether you include this in your Easter desserts or not,  this Chocolate Coconut Cream Cake is a worthy cake any time of the year.

Pastry Cream – Using the ingredients listed below go here for how to photos.
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
1 1/3 cup milk,hot
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Soften the gelatin in the water and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until very hot but not boiling. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a non-reactive saucepan. Whisk in the flour. Add the hot milk slowly, whisking well and scraping the corners of the pan with a rubber spatula to make sure all of the egg yolk mixture is incorporated. Place in the top of a double boiler whisking constantly, heat until very hot and beginning to thicken. Remove the top of the double boiler and place directly over heat. Whisk constantly until it comes to a boil; cook for 1 minute.

Remove from the heat; add the vanilla. Tear the gelatin into small pieces and stir into the hot liquid (there is no need to liquefy it, the heat of the mixture will do this for you) completely dissolved. Transfer to a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream, poke a few holes in it and chill at least 6 hours or overnight.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake – for how to photos go here.
1 cup cocoa (85 grams or 3 ounces)
1 cup sifted cake flour (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup sugar (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup egg whites (160 grams or 5 2/3 ounces or about 5 egg whites)
3/4 cup sugar (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)

Line three 9×2 inch round cake pans with parchment. Spray centers only. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Sift together the cocoa, cake flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking soda and baking powder.

Set aside.

Place the egg yolks, oil, water and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Place the dry ingredients on top.

Beat on medium for two minutes. Scrape down and mix until smooth.

In a clean bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the whites on medium high until soft peaks form. Add the sugar in a slow, steady stream and beat until stiff. Stir 1/3 of the mixture into the whites. Fold in the remaining whites.

Divide among the three pans (315 grams or 11 ounces each). Bake 14 to 16 minutes until a tester comes out clean or the layer springs back when lightly touched.

Yield: 950 grams or about 2 pounds 1 1/2 ounces

1 1/2 cups 40% or heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar (45 ounces or 1 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut (225 ounces or 8 ounces)

Combine cream, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat until very stiff. Spread over top and sides of cake. Press coconut onto sides and top. Place in refrigerator overnight to set up.

Refrigerate the cake.

Note: This cake may be made in its entirety, well wrapped, for up to a month.

Assembly of the Chocolate Coconut Cream Cake – for how to photos go here.
1 cup 40% or heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Pastry Cream, chilled
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
3 Chocolate Chiffon Cake Layers, thawed if frozen

Combine cream and powdered sugar in mixing bowl; beat until stiff.

Whisk  the pastry cream to smooth it out.  Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream. Stir coconut into the filling.

Spread half of the filling, (420 grams or 14 3/4 ounces) to within 1/2 inch of edge of one layer of cake. Place another layer of cake over filling and spread the remainder of the filling over it.

Place the cake on a cake board or serving plate. The cake has a tendency to crumb along the edges. To contain the crumbs, place one hand on each side of the cake and press the crumbs in. Continue around the cake until all of the crumbs have been contained.

Cover the sides and top of the cake with the frosting. Press the coconut onto the sides and top of the cake.

Store in the refrigerator.

Note: This Chocolate Coconut Cream Cake can be made several days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. The cake in its entirety can be made and frozen. Thaw in the refrigerator.




Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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8 thoughts on “Chocolate Coconut Cream Cake

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Carolyn – thanks for sharing this with us. I haven’t tried it but will put it on my to-do list (which is getting ever bigger by the day). I think it is more the skim milk powder that is stabilizing the cream as it is soaking up the excess water from the 36% cream.

      Have you tried it and have you tried freezing it? I would be curious as to whether it waters out after freezing. If you have tried either, please share your experience with us.

  1. Ness Blackbird

    You can make 40% cream by adding butter to heavy cream. You can also stabilize heavy cream with gelatin or cornstarch.

    One question, Helen. You write: Place the egg yolks, oil, water and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Place the dry on top.

    What’s the “dry”? Sorry, I’m sure it should be obvious :)

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Ness. Thank you for your suggestions. I’m not sure how adding butter to cream would work but the point is with 40% or heavy cream you don’t have to do anything but whip it. At the bakery, we froze whipped cream cakes with 100% success and they thawed beautifully without watering out.

      Thank you for the catch – it should have said “ingredients”. I have corrected that.

      1. Ness Blackbird

        The Cake Bible recommends making “old-fashioned heavy whipping cream” by softening butter, warming cream, and combining them — I forget the details, but it didn’t look hard. Normal “heavy cream” from the grocery store is only 36% fat these days, but it used to be heavier at some point.

        1. hfletcher Post author

          Hi Ness – I beg to differ on the heavy cream. It is definitely thicker than regular whipping cream. If you compare them you can see the difference. Heavy cream can be between 36 and 40% with regular whipping cream coming in at 30%. I recently returned a case marked heavy cream that was much thinner than that marked heavy cream. We never stabalized heavy cream in any way and when used in cakes or as a finish for cakes it never watered out as does regular whipping cream which you must stabalize.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Penny – 40% cream is heavy cream. Heavy cream is at least 40% fat as regular cream is 36% fat. It does not hold up as well when using it for frosting as does the 40% or heavy cream. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I will add this to the recipe.

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