As is the family tradition in recent years, Ben and I host Easter at our house and I always am in charge of the ham and the coconut cake. I set to work baking first thing when I woke up this morning and came up with an amalgamation of recipes to create what I hope will be the best coconut layer cake I’ve ever done. In case you’re interested in a cake that’s not too difficult, I’ll share with you! I made 2 kinds of icings, and that’s important to the structural soundness of the cake. The base is a box mix, but you won’t follow those instructions. Don’t be afraid. We can still call it scratch, as far as I’m concerned. If you won’t tell, I won’t either.
Wait. Too late, I guess.
Coconut Layer Cake with Italian Creme Icing
1 package (21.6 ounces) yellow cake mix
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites
½ cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon coconut extract
The cake is super easy. Here’s what you do. Preheat to 350, grease and flour 2 round cake pans. Put the ingredients in your stand mixer, mix on high until all the lumps are smoothed out. Divide between the two cake pans. Bake them for 25-30 minutes. When they’re done, set them aside to cool completely. I leave one in the pan, and flip the other onto my cake stand to cool.
While those are baking, you’ll make the first icing. You’ll need:
Cream Cheese Coconut Icing
1 stick of room temperature butter (NOT margarine!)
1 package (8 oz.) of cold cream cheese
a few cups of confectioners sugar
(I’ll let you decide on that—I don’t love it terribly sweet and only use about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Put the cream cheese and butter in the stand mixer on low speed until creamy. Add the coconut and vanilla extracts and the confectioners’ sugar, a cup at a time, beating on low until just combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high to whip the frosting and fluff it up a little. Scrape this into a different bowl and set aside. This will go between the cake layers because the Italian creme isn’t dense or stiff enough to support a cake layer on top of it. It would just all squish out and be a mess.
Now we make the magic special amazing super exotic and European icing.
Italian Creme Coconut Icing
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 package (8 oz.) of Italian mascarpone cheese
a few cups of confectioners sugar
(I’ll let you decide on that again)
1 tsp. coconut extract
1.5 tsp. vanilla extract
2.5 cups of flaked coconut
Toast your coconut on a baking sheet in the oven. Don’t let it burn! I let it toast a little, then shuffled it all around with a fork and toasted a little more before removing and setting aside. Pour the whipping cream into the stand mixer, and beat on high until stiff peaks form, put this in a different bowl and set aside. Put the mascarpone, extracts, and confectioners’ sugar in the stand mixer and beat until creamy. Add the whipped cream and mix on medium until well incorporated and fluffy and creamy. Check it for sweetness—add a little more sugar and mix more if you need to.
Assemble the cake! Spread the cream cheese icing generously on the top of the bottom layer. Go crazy! Put your top layer on, and pile on the Italian creme icing. Slather it on the cake’s top and sides with a butter knife, smoothing it out as you go. Use it all. It’s the best thing you’ll ever do. Pack handfuls of the toasted coconut all over the icing. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
Thank goodness for the empty fridge in Jim and Mal’s guest house that’s keeping watch over my cake until Sunday. I can’t yet vouch for it, but I can’t see how it could go wrong. You know?
I also realized I still didn’t have an Easter dress, so I told Hope to meet me and made the 2 block trip to Quarter Century, my favorite place to buy a special dress in Laurel. It’s gotten so so cute lately with all the Darling dresses and Free People and Tracy Reese stuff. I left with a little more than I meant to… Got a gorgeous (and not too pricey) chartreuse lace cap-sleeve dress for Sunday, a fun yellow and white Tracy Reese linen shirtdress and maxi skirt (both half off!), and another comfy chambray tunic that I’ll wear to death until Christmas, most likely.
I can’t tell you how it tickles me that there is a cool place to shop here at home. It feels good to shop local, especially since my childhood friend Kandace’s mama owns it now.
And finally… You’ll be happy to know that I made my decision and went shopping for my new flowerbeds. Tomorrow we’ll plant them and I’ll tell you which plants were the winners. I’m sure you’ll be waiting with bated breath, right?