Dark chocolate and nutty coconut are the starring flavors of this cake, which is one of my favorites. The base is a moist chocolate cake that stays soft even after refrigeration, because it’s made with vegetable oil instead of butter, while sour cream gives it a tender crumb. The cake layer is topped with a crunchy combination of cornflakes, coconut and melted white chocolate, and then covered with a generous layer of creamy coconut mousse. I finish the cake with piped dollops of whipped cream, chocolate crumbs and yes, you guessed it — more coconut. If you want to simplify the process, skip the whipped cream and cake crumbs and just sprinkle the top of the cake with coconut flakes.

Makes one 9-inch cake, serving 12


Chocolate Cake

  • 2 large (100 grams) eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (161 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (71 grams) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups (217 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups (266 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (64 grams) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground espresso beans or dark roast coffee beans
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 2/3 cup (160 grams) hot brewed coffee

Crunchy Coconut Layer

  • ½ cup (50 grams) sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup (22 grams) cornflakes
  • 3 ounces (85 grams) good quality white chocolate, chopped
  • Pinch of salt

Coconut Mousse

  • 1 ½ cups (362 grams) whole milk
  • 2/3 cup (67 grams) sweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 1/4 cups (290 grams) heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped Cream

  • 1 ¼ cups (290 grams) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 3 tablespoons (18 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted


  • Coconut chips or flakes


Make the cake

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, cut to fit. Dust the sides of the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs until blended. Whisk in the sour cream, oil and vanilla; set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, ground espresso beans, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed until blended. Slowly add the egg mixture in a steady stream and mix at low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then continue to mix on low speed while adding the hot coffee. Continue to mix on low speed until fully blended, about 2 minutes.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan, set on a wire rack, for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and then reinvert it and cool completely. (The top of the cake will probably have a few crater-sized cracks on it – not to worry – this is normal!)

5. Using a long, serrated knife, cut the domed top of the cake off so that the top of the cake is level. Break the cut-off dome piece into chunks and set it aside.

6. Put the trimmed cake, cut side up, in the bottom of a springform pan. Attach the side of the pan. Process the reserved cake chunks in a food processor in pulses just to form fine crumbs (do not over-process or they will turn into a paste). Set the crumbs aside to garnish the cake.

Make the crunchy layer

7. In a medium bowl, gently toss together the coconut and cornflakes.

8. Melt the white chocolate – you can either do this in the microwave at 50 percent power, stirring every 20 seconds until almost melted, or in a bowl set on top of a saucepan filled one-third of the way with barely simmering water, stirring frequently. Pour the melted chocolate over the coconut mixture and gently toss with a rubber spatula to combine. Add the salt and toss again. Spoon the mixture over the cake layer, distributing it as evenly as possible to cover the cake.

Make the Coconut Mousse

9. Place the milk and coconut in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook until scalding. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to steep for 45 minutes.

10. Strain the milk, pressing down on the coconut with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Measure the milk; you should have 1 1/3 cups (322 grams). If you have less, add a little milk as necessary to make up the difference.

11. Place the cold water in a small cup and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Set aside to soften.

12. Return the strained milk to the saucepan and reheat until scalding. Remove the pan from the heat. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens and reaches 175˚F on an instant-read thermometer. A path should remain in the sauce when you run your finger across the sauce-coated back of the spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and add the gelatin mixture, stirring until the gelatin is dissolved. Pour the hot mixture into a medium bowl and set the bowl in a large mixing bowl filled one-third of the way with ice water (be careful that the water doesn’t splash into the coconut mixture). Stir the coconut mixture frequently until it is chilled, about 15 minutes. Stir in the rum and vanilla extract.

13. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed to low and pour in the coconut mixture. Mix at low speed until blended. Stir the mousse with a rubber spatula a few times to blend completely.

Assemble the cake

14. Scrape the Coconut Mousse on top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours, until the mousse is firm.

15. Carefully remove the side of the pan (if necessary, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake first). If you like, transfer the cake from the cake pan bottom to a cardboard cake round or serving plate (I use a cake lifter like this for this delicate task).

Make the whipped cream

16. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, begin whipping the cream and vanilla at medium speed. When the cream begins to form soft mounds, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until firm peaks just start to form.
Garnish the cake:
17. Using a small, offset metal spatula, spread some of the whipped cream around the side of the cake in a thin layer. Transfer the remaining whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (Ateco #8) and refrigerate until ready to use.

18. Place the cake on a parchment-lined baking sheet and gently pat the reserved cake crumbs around the side of the cake, over the whipped cream. Using the refrigerated whipped cream, pipe large rosettes around the top edge of the cake. Sprinkle some coconut chips or flaked coconut in the center of the cake. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.


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Tish Boyle
Tish Boylehttps://pastryathome.com
Tish Boyle is the Managing Editor of Pastry Arts Magazine, a food writer and cookbook author with expertise in baking, desserts and chocolate. A graduate of Smith College and La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine, Tish has written several dessert and baking books including Chocolate Passion, Diner Desserts, The Good Cookie, The Cake Book and Flavorful. Co-writing credits include Payard Desserts and the Grand Finales series of books.

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