Coconut Cake Convert

I remember the first day I tried coconut. It was my fourth birthday. I begged my mom to make this cake for my party that was in the shape of a boy, simply called “Child’s Birthday Cake.” It was from first and one of the only cookbooks from my childhood, entitled 32 Cookies. Now looking back, I’m not sure why this cake was in a cookie book, but I remember being obsessed with it. It was probably because of the pink shirt and blue pants. All year I would stare at this cake. When we were making crack-ups and surprise kiss cookies at Christmas, I would flip to the back of the book to hang out with the birthday boy. I HAD to have this cake. (This passion for a specific cake repeated itself and probably amplified on my fifth birthday around a Barbie cake. I guess I’ve always been excited about special occasion cakes – and we know that hasn’t changed!)

Coconut Cake Boy from 32 Cookies Cookbook

So my sweet mom made me the birthday boy cake. How exciting! I could have my very own! But I took my first bite and spit it out. The funny thing was, I didn’t realize there was coconut all over it. I just thought he was wearing a cool textured pink shirt. And that was the day I realized I didn’t like coconut.

Not just dislike, but despise. And I avoided it for 21 years. But then something happened this spring. I had a coconut cookie at Bandolero and liked it so much that I snuck a few away in my bag to eat the next day. Starbucks gave me a little sample of their coconut frappachino and I drank the whole thing. I actually consciously added coconut to my yogurt parfait at Yola. Turns out, I like coconut now. Just like how this spring I started liking lobster (yes, don’t get mad at me for that one) and tequila again. Look and me and my taste buds all grown up!

Coconut Cake for a birthday

Coconut Layer Cake by Nikki Rappaport

I made the cake for my friend’s 25th birthday this weekend and I got extra giddy when found out she loved coconut. I could finally put my newfound coconut love to the test – and I knew I wouldn’t spit out this cake. It’s a round vanilla cake with a gooey coconut filling and creamy coconut frosting. I’m sure my friend would have loved it if I put it in the shape of a boy, but it was still a huge hit. This is now one of my favorite cakes in my repertoire.

Coconut Layer Cake

{Adapted from Magnolia Bakery and Ina Garten}

Vanilla Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs corn starch mixed in with the flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease two 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour in four parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla extract.
  3. Divide batter among the pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Let cakes cool.

coconut Filling

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1 seven-once package sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk the milk with the sugar and flour until thoroughly combined. Cook and stir constantly over medium-high heat (about 5 minutes) until thickened and bubbly.
  2. Remove from heat and add the coconut. Stir in vanilla. Cover and cool to room temperature.
  3. Once the cake and filling have cooled, spread the filling evenly between the layers.

coconut Frosting

  • 8 ounces (1 block) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 seven-once package sweetened, shredded coconut
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter. Add in the extracts. Slowly add in the sugar until smooth. Gently fold in the coconut.
  2. Frost the top and sides of the cake immediately and sprinkle with a little more coconut.

coconut cake

It’s not pretty, but we devoured this cake. It’s messy and sweet and enjoyed best with good friends who are happy and drunk off Moscow Mules. Now that’s something to be a coconut convert for.

5 thoughts on “Coconut Cake Convert

  1. mum

    Your tastes really have grown up…remember when you only ate pasta and chicken or chicken and past together! Well maybe with a little ketchup too! Remember trying to find food for you in London….we should go again! Eating would be alot more fun now!! happy thursday….mum

  2. Emily

    I have an almost identical story! When I was little, my mom and sisters and I would always hand off coconut things to my dad (Almond Joy was the only thing I’d give up from my Halloween candy stash) but now I’ll happily eat anything with coconut or coconut flavor. I agree, it’s a grown-up thing :)

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