Featuring a made-from-scratch chocolate cake layered with coconut pastry cream and covered in coconut buttercream frosting, this Chocolate Coconut Cake is a true show stopper.
A Decadent Chocolate Coconut Cake
This decadent dessert features chocolate cake layers that are thick, dense, light, and super moist, all at the same time. In between the cake layers is a simple coconut pastry cream. Then, the entire 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.
The chocolate cake layer is my favorite chocolate cake to date. The flavor is intense! With melted baking chocolate and cocoa powder, it has a dark, rich color and taste - very similar to a brownie.
If all of this sounds like too much chocolate (is that possible?!), don't worry - the chocolate overload is all balanced out by the coconut filling and silky coconut buttercream.
If you're searching for a dessert to impress the guests, or you just love the combo of chocolate and coconut, this Chocolate Coconut Cake is for you.
What You'll Need
Don't let this long ingredient list intimidate you - the majority of the ingredients appear on more than one list.
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda - Only a small amount of baking soda is needed for this cake to rise.
- Salt - Enhances the other sweet flavors in this chocolate cake.
- Semisweet chocolate - You can also use bittersweet chocolate but I don't recommend unsweetened. Be sure to use baking chocolate and not chocolate chips.
- Unsalted butter
- Granulated sugar
- Eggs - Whole eggs and yolks are needed for various layers of the cake.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder - Gives the rich chocolate taste throughout the cake. You'll want natural cocoa powder, not Dutch-processed cocoa.
- Unsweetened coconut milk - I love the flavor this adds to the cake. However, you can also use whole milk.
- Cornstarch - Helps thicken the filling.
- Coconut extract - Ensures there's coconut flavor in every bite.
- Shredded coconut - Sweetened coconut is the best option for the filling and garnish.
- Coconut buttercream frosting - The frosting has just enough coconut flavor to enhance the flavors in the filling.
- Light corn syrup - This makes the glaze shiny but is completely optional.
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 with any recipe to avoid errors while in the middle of baking.
Make the cake batter. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring until melting and smooth.
In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Mix in the cocoa powder and melted chocolate.
Add half of the flour, then the coconut milk, and the remaining flour. Beat just until combined.
Bake. Divide the batter between 3 prepared cake pans, taking care to ensure the batter spreads all the way to the edges of the pan. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Cool completely.
Make the coconut filling. Simmer the coconut milk. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and extract. Slowly pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly.
Return to heat until thickened, then pour through a fine-mesh sieve. Stir in the butter. Place plastic wrap on top of the cream, making sure it is touching. Cool completely in the fridge, then stir in the shredded coconut.
Layer the cake. Place a cake layer on a serving plate. Spread half of the pastry cream on top. Top with another cake layer, then the remaining pastry cream and the final cake layer.
Add the frosting. Prepare the coconut buttercream according to the direction in the recipe, then spread over the top and sides of the cake.
Make the chocolate glaze. Melt the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a bowl over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Spoon ¼ cup of the chocolate glaze over the top of the cake then drizzle the remaining glaze along the edge so it drips down the sides. Sprinkle shredded coconut over the top.
If you love the look of drip cakes, you should see my chocolate peppermint cake. It's a showstopper!
Tips for Success:
Before you jump into making this chocolate layer cake, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Make sure all cake 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.
- In a pinch, freeze the cake layers.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.
- Chill the frosted cake. 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.
This chocolate coconut cake is perfect for a party or friendly gathering. It can easily serve 10 to 12 people, maybe more. I like to display it on a nice serving plate, to impress the guests just a bit.
Since this cake is so rich and has so many layers, you can cut the slices thinner than you would normally.
Can I Make This in Advance?
With recipes that have several parts that require cooling, I like to prepare as much in advance as possible, so I'm not spending hours just waiting for things to cool. Luckily, several parts of this chocolate layer cake can be prepared ahead of time.
- The cake layers will last in the fridge for up to 2 days before assembling the cake. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
- The cake layers can also be frozen for up to 2 weeks. Triple wrap in plastic wrap to avoid freezer burn. Thaw on the counter slightly before use.
- Both the frosting and filling can be prepared and refrigerated a day before use.
How to Store Extras
- How to store leftover cake. The fully assembled cake will last for up to 3 days in the fridge. Bring to room temperature just before serving.
- Can I freeze this cake? Yes, the frosted cake (without the glaze) cake be frozen for 2 months. Thaw in the fridge then allow it to come to room temperature before serving.