Mama’s Coconut Cake has finally come back to reality. If anyone remembers this legendary cake, let me know. She never publicly released the recipe. Years ago, I asked around. People said they had the recipe, but theirs never measured up to the taste of hers. I remembered a secret step she added to hers, and I think I got it right, finally!!!

This cake was Mama’s pride and joy. She never gave anyone the “entire” recipe. She would give them the recipe but left one step out. They would fuss at her and tell her that it didn’t taste the same! She would make one for them, (for free) but she kept the recipe for herself. She said that she figured it out and anyone else could too!

A while back, I had a man that received this cake for a high school graduation dessert contact me. He described the taste and texture. He told me that he had been in search of this cake for 36 years. I laughed, and told him it was Mama’s recipe. He asked if I could try to duplicate it. That is when the journey began. At first, he didn’t think I got it right. After a couple of busy days and forgetting about it, he tried another wedge. He was shocked at the transformation the cake had made. The cake layers had soaked up some of the filling leaving incredibly moist layers, creamy sweet filling, and a buttery cream cheese icing that melded into the perfect cake of his past. After 36 years, his cake nirvana moment! Just trying to make Mama proud!

For the cake layers:

1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
3-1/4 cups cake flour (sifted)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1 (13-1/2 ounce) can coconut milk
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons stirred, sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
5 egg whites
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 teaspoons pure coconut extract
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with shortening and flour the pan, discarding the excess.

Place shredded coconut in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped coconut, flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut milk, cream of coconut, egg whites, vanilla, and coconut extracts until completely blended.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter on high speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in the three whole eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the coconut milk mixture, to the creamed butter, starting and ending with the flour.

Divide batter equally into the three prepared pans. Bake the layers until they are light golden and set, and come out clean when pricked with a toothpick, approximately 35 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes. Cut around the edges with a pairing knife and remove the cakes to wire racks. Cool completely before moving forward with the recipe.

For the coconut filling:

1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt

Place shredded coconut in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped. Set aside.

In a medium to large saucepan, bring butter, cream, and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and sugar completely dissolved.

Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, water, vanilla bean paste, and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl, then stir the mixture into the saucepan with the cream mixture. Bring cream back to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture returns to a boil, cook for an additional minute or so, until just thickened.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the chopped coconut. Continue stirring for another minute or so to release some of the heat. Transfer the filling to a mixing bowl and cool at room temperature for an hour. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill, stirring occasionally, until cool, 3-4 hours (or overnight).

When ready to assemble the cake, beat the chilled filling with a handheld mixer on high speed until thick, light, and fluffy, approximately 1-2 minutes.

For the coconut frosting:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese
2 teaspoons pure coconut extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (16 ounce) box confectioners’ sugar

3 cups sweetened shredded coconut plus more as needed, for garnish

Place butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until light and creamy. Turn mixer on low and add coconut extract and vanilla, followed by the confectioners’ sugar. Continue beating until smooth, about 3 minutes.

To assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on a large plate or cake stand and coat with half of the coconut filling. Add the second cake layer and cover with the remaining coconut filling. Add the third cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with a crumb coat of coconut frosting, followed by thicker layer. Thoroughly cover the frosted top and sides of the cake with shredded coconut, pressing gently to adhere it to the cake. For the cake to be the moist delicious cake of the past, let it rest overnight in the refrigerator. It gets better with time.

SOURCE : Southern With A Twist

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