Okay. Sometimes you see a recipe for something and you just know in your gut that it is going to be good. I had that feeling when I saw the recipe for this cake. I had to make it and *BONUS* I had all the ingredients in my pantry! It was fate. And fate, my friends, tasted really, really good this last week. TWICE.
4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 c. butter, room temperature
1 3/4 c. white sugar
1 c. unsweetened coconut milk
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk, room temperature
1 tsp. coconut extract
Preheat oven to 300º F.
Butter two 9 inch cake pans. Line pans with parchment paper circles and butter parchment. Coat pans with all purpose flour, shaking off excess. Set aside.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine buttermilk and coconut extract. Set aside.
In a clean bowl, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter. Add sugar, 1/4 c. at a time, until butter is pale yellow. Add coconut milk and egg yolks and mix until fluffy. Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk/extract with your mixer on low speed. Gently fold egg whites into the cake batter. Pour batter into two 9 inch pans and bake in oven for 75 minutes. After 60 minutes, check cake with toothpick. Cake is done when your toothpick comes out clean.
When cakes are done, remove from oven and carefully loosen from sides of pan. Flip cakes out of pans onto a cooling rack. (OPTIONAL: While cakes are still warm, poke small holes in cakes, without poking all the way through. Reserving 2 Tbsp. of coconut milk for your frosting, drizzle remaining coconut milk on the tops of cakes) When cakes are cool, wrap in plastic and freeze several hours or overnight.
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 to 2 Tbsp. coconut milk
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. powdered sugar
Spread about 3 cups of sweetened coconut in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in a 325º F oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch closely! Coconut is done when some, but not all, of the coconut is golden brown. Cool and mix the toasted coconut together.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add 1 Tbsp. coconut milk and coconut extract. Add 1 lb of powdered sugar and mix well. Continue adding up to 1/2 lb. additional powdered sugar for a stiffer frosting. Add more coconut milk if it gets too stiff.
Remove coconut cakes from freezer and frost cakes immediately, using a generous amount of frosting between layers. Press toasted coconut all over cake. Allow cake to come to room temperature before serving.
* I used unsweetened coconut milk instead of cream of coconut called for in the original recipe to cut down the sweetness a little…it was perfect. The cake was very moist, but firm (this would be a great cake for a wedding!). You can use cream of coconut (like Coco Lopez) instead of the unsweetened coconut if you want more sweet. Usually I want more sweet, but I thought the coconut milk was marvelous.