Chocolate Coconut Cake

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A Chocolate Coconut cake that is not only a show stopper, but it tastes great as well. Made from scratch chocolate cake layered with coconut pastry cream and covered in coconut buttercream frosting is truly exceptional.

Chocolate coconut cake with dripping ganache and coconut flakes on top sitting on a cake stand.

A thick chocolate run glaze is smoothed over the top of the cake and runs down the sides adding character and more chocolate flavor. This recipe may sound complicated, but trust me, it’s actually really simple!

Chocolate cake with coconut frosting

There’s so much decadent chocolate inside this cake! The cake layers are thick, dense, light, and super moist.

The filling is a simple pastry cream made with coconut milk instead of regular milk. Coconut extract is added for extra flavor but it’s totally optional.

The cake is covered in my popular coconut buttercream frosting. It’s a lusciously silky texture that glides across the tongue.

This cake is no more complicated than a regular layered cake. The ingredients and instructions may look intimidating but it really isn’t that difficult to prepare.

A slice of three layer coconut cake on a white plate with a fork taking out a bite.

How to make chocolate coconut cake

Read through the instructions before you begin so you are prepared for what’s to come. I recommend this will any recipe to avoid errors while in the middle of baking.

Also, make sure you have all of the ingredients measured and set out on the counter. Double check that you have everything you need.

The chocolate cake layer is my favorite chocolate cake to date. The flavor is intense!

I used melted baking chocolate and cocoa powder to get the dark, rich color and taste. It’s very similar to a brownie.

Three layers of this cake may seem like chocolate overload but it’s all balanced out by a coconut filling and silky coconut buttercream.

This chocolate coconut cake is perfect for a party or friendly gathering. It can easily serve 10 to 12 people, maybe more.

Each component can be prepared in advance and assembled a few hours before you need to serve it.

Up close view of chocolate coconut cake.

You don’t necessarily have to add the chocolate glaze but it certainly ties everything together. I like to pop my frosted cake in the refrigerator for a few hours before adding the glaze.

The warm glaze will set quicker when it comes into contact with the cold cake. This ensures those drips down the sides don’t run all the way to the bottom of the cake.

Chocolate coconut cake is one indulgent dessert. Your friends and family will not be disappointed with this crowd pleaser!

Tips for making chocolate coconut cake:

  • When making the cake, make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature. The batter will blend together easier when all ingredients are at the same temperature.
  • Let the cake layers cool completely before you assemble the cake. The cake will crumble if you try to handle it before it’s completely cooled.
  • If you are in a hurry, carefully wrap the warm cake layers in plastic wrap and freeze them for 30 minutes to an hour to speed up the cooling process and make the layers easier to work with.

Helpful tools

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A Chocolate Coconut cake that is not only a show stopper, but it tastes great as well. Made from scratch chocolate cake layered with coconut pastry cream and covered in coconut buttercream frosting is truly exceptional.
4.91 from 10 votes
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Chocolate Coconut Cake

A Chocolate Coconut cake that is not only a show stopper, but it tastes great as well. Made from scratch chocolate cake layered with coconut pastry cream and covered in coconut buttercream frosting is truly exceptional. 

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cake, chocolate coconut cake
Prep Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Yields 24 servings
Calories 374 kcal

Ingredients

For the cake

For the filling

For the frosting

For the glaze

Instructions

Make the cake

  1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Spray 3 8-inch round pans with nonstick spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper cut into a circle to fit the pan. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray and dust the pan lightly with cocoa powder. Tap out any excess and set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir with a whisk and set aside.

  3. Add the chocolate to a small heatproof bowl and set it over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir continuously until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-low speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Add the cocoa powder and melted chocolate and mix until well incorporated. With the mixer set to low speed. gradually add half the flour mixture, followed by the coconut milk, and then the remaining flour mixture. Beat just until combined. The batter will be thick.

  5. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter all the way to the edges of the pan and smooth out the surface. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few dry crumbs. Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely. Peel the parchment paper off the bottoms before filling.

Make the filling

  1. Bring the coconut milk up to a simmer in a medium saucepan. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and extract until blended and pale in color. Slowly pour in the hot milk while whisking continuously. Return the mixture back to the pot and whisk over medium-high heat until thickened, about 3 minutes. Pour the thickened pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve then stir in the butter until fully melted. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream, making sure it is touching the surface, and refrigerate until cooled completely. Stir in the shredded coconut.

  2. Place one of the cake layers on a serving plate, bottom side up. Spread half the pastry cream over the top, leaving a 1/2-inch margin around the edge. Top with another cake layer. Repeat with remaining pastry cream and top with the third cake layer.

Make the frosting

  1. Prepare the coconut buttercream frosting according to the recipe instructions. Spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Using a large cake scraper, remove frosting from the sides of the cake until the cake layers begin to show through.

Make the glaze

  1. Place the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

  2. Spoon 1/4 cup of the chocolate glaze over the top of the cake. Drizzle the remaining glaze along the edge of the cake all the way around, allowing it to drip down the sides. Sprinkle shredded coconut over the top.

Make ahead tip

  1. Wrap baked and cooled cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. The frosting and filling can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the cake within 2 days.
  2. The frosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature just before serving. 

Recipe Video

Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Coconut Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 374
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional values here on my recipes should be used as a general guide only. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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38 Comments

  • Amy

    I made this cake for New Years Eve treat. While mine didn’t turn out as beautiful, the cake is exceptional. Well done on this recipe!

  • Chlo4

    I’m an excellent cook and trying I’m trying to teach myself to bake, which, though closely related, are too totally different skills. I made this cake and while my was much more lopsided than the picture, it did turn out delicious and moist, my question is this: when I added the melted chocolate to my room temperature creamed sugar,butter, and eggs it turned almost solid again and I ended up with chocolate chips in my cake (not a total loss), did I do something wrong?

  • Marsy

    As I was whisking the filling in the pan, it turned into one big ball. It wasn’t spreadable and it tasted a bit eggy. I tripled checked the measurements before and after, and I followed everything correctly. Any thoughts?

    • Jen Sobjack

      Hmm. I’m not sure since I wasn’t there to see you make it and I’ve never experienced this issue with pastry cream. Usually, it’s the opposite and the pastry cream won’t thicken. Perhaps you overcooked it, which thickened it too much? As for the egg taste, that is just the way custard/pastry cream is. Eggs are one of the main ingredients.

  • Raluca

    I would like to bake this half the size, but not sure about the flour-baking soda amounts. Any ideas? I know you cannot just half everything in a recipe. Thanks 🙂

  • bea

    what a great recipe! i made almost everything as directed (i used a swiss meringue buttercream to frost, but it’s much less sweet than regular american buttercream so now i’m worried about the taste, overall). i got a little ahead of myself and made the glaze too early, so it didn’t run down the sides very much (and in some places got a little thick on top—yikes) but the person i made the cake for is a (dark) chocolate fanatic, so hopefully she enjoys it anyway, haha. thanks ♥

  • Sally

    My cake always ends up falling apart and I have to piece it back together when I am putting the cake together, how do I fix that?

    • Jen Sobjack

      I’m not sure why you keep having that problem but maybe you can try sticking the cake in the freezer for an hour or two so it will firm up and you can work with it a little easier.

  • Eliza

    Cake is in the oven and smells amazing! I am making it for someone with a severe dairy allergy so subbed all the butter with coconut oil :). I will let you know how it works! I can’t wait to see the end result- your cake looks beautiful ☺️

  • Tara

    Marcy…… did you use whole eggs or just the yolks? That could explain it lol! (Also I didn’t need the whole 3 minutes for mine to thicken, it only took about 45 seconds!!!)
    Just made this cake for my daughters 13th birthday and am typing this as I wait for the glaze to cool English to harden on my cake. While it was a bit time consuming (lots of steps and components to the recipe) it was easy! I have to say, so far so good and it’s looking gorgeous!!!!! I will definitely make again!

  • Patty Stratton

    My daughters would love a chocolate coconut cream cake for their birthday. We will be at the beach. If I make in advance, can I freeze the cake up to the frosted point? I’m not sure if coconut cream can be frozen. I would do glaze day of. Or I can make all components ahead and put together at the beach…

    • Jen Sobjack

      These are the make ahead instructions that are included in the recipe:

      1. Wrap baked and cooled cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. The frosting and filling can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the cake within 2 days.
      OR
      2. The frosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature just before serving.

      • Patty Stratton

        Oops…don’t know how I missed that but thank you for replying; I’ve just never frozen coconut cream before.

  • Julia

    I used the chocolate cake recipe for a blueberry chocolate cake I made and absolutely loved it. Simple to make, moist and chocolaty without being too sweet. Definitely gonna use this recipe again for my cakes!
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes. It wasn’t the first time I baked one of your cakes and it’s definitely not going to be the last!

  • Bonnie

    This cake – oh my! It doesn’t really need frosting, it’s so rich and delicious! Wow! This is now my favorite cake recipe! And the filling I could just eat with a spoon. A great combination – thank you for sharing!

  • Lauren

    I am excited to try this receipe! The cake looks amazing. I was wondering if you can use 2/3 cup dutch processed chocolate instead of the 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder? Also would it change the flavor at all?

  • Yuliya Koshkina

    Got all the ingredients for the cake but could not find an 8-inch pan anywhere! I have a round 9.75 springfoam and an 8×8 glass square pan.. would any of these work? Thank you!

  • Bre

    HI! I’m in the middle of baking the cakes, and I was wondering if I could make the filling a day before and refrigerate?