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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.

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

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.

If you love coconut, you might want to try my coconut cream pie and pineapple coconut cake.

If you’re not a fan of chocolate, give my plain coconut cake a try. It’s decadent and full of coconut flavor.

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

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.

A layered chocolate coconut cake on a serving plate

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!

Up close view of chocolate coconut cake.

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.

Serving Suggestions

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.

More Chocolate Recipes

  1. Chocolate Easter Cake
  2. The Best Chocolate Cupcakes
  3. Double Chocolate Muffins with Raspberries

Did you try this recipe? I would love for you to leave me a 5-star rating or comment. This way, I have a better understanding of which recipes you like and can create more of them.

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

Chocolate Coconut Cake

Yield: 24 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

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.


For the cake

  • 2 ½ cups (325 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (113 g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup (56 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1 ½ cups (360 ml) canned unsweetened coconut milk, room temperature

For the filling

  • 1 cup (240 ml) canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup (67 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¾ cup (90 g) shredded sweetened coconut

For the frosting

For the glaze

  • 4 ounces (113 g) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ½ - 1 cup (43-85 g) shredded sweetened coconut


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 at 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. (The mixture may look curdled, this is normal and will come together once the rest of the ingredients are added.)
  5. 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.
  6. 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 ½-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 ¼ 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.


Semisweet chocolate: You may use bittersweet chocolate instead. I don't recommend using unsweetened chocolate. Avoid using chocolate chips since they don't melt as easily as bars of baking chocolate.

Unsweetened cocoa powder: Natural cocoa powder works best for this recipe. It's acidic and will react with the baking soda to give the cake rise. Dutch-processed cocoa will not work the same way.

Coconut milk: This adds wonderful flavor to all layers of the cake. However, you may use whole milk if needed.

Corn syrup: It adds shine to the chocolate glaze and may be omitted if necessary.

Make ahead tip

  1. Wrap baked and cooled cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. Assemble and frost the cake within 2 days. Or layers can be triple wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Leave wrapped and set on the counter to thaw slightly before use.
  2. The frosting and filling can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 day before use.
  3. Once the cake has been assembled, cover it and keep it stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Bring it to room temperature just before serving.
  4. 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. 

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 143mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 2gSugar: 29gProtein: 5g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients you used in the recipe.

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  1. Cheri Markham says:

    I am in the middle of constructing my cake to mail to a child hundreds of miles away. I did freeze the cake layers last night, and I already prepared the (absolutely delicious!) filling — exactly as instructed, and refrigerated overnight. But today the filling has a very liquid consistency. I have not added the coconut yet, but what should I do about the filling? Will the coconut help? Do I need to start from scratch, or is there something I can do to save it? Thanks!


    1. Did you cook it until it was thickened? It may take longer than 3 minutes depending on your stovetop. The filling should be a little soft like pudding, but it shouldn’t be liquidy. I’m afraid you’ll have to start over.

  2. Katherin M says:

    Could I do two 9-inch cakes instead of 3 8-inch?

    1. Yes, that should be fine. You’d need to adjust the bake time slightly.

  3. Made this cake for my 70th birthday – loved it & so did everyone at the party! I had just found a vintage cake stand, so it was pretty elegant, not my usual style, lol! I used 85% cocoa Lindt bars because most cakes are way too sweet for me. Worked well – VERY bittersweet chocolate flavor with sweet counterpoints in filling & frosting, bittersweet glaze. I always use half cream cheese, half butter for buttercream frosting – I find pure butter too rich & a little boring! I did have to stabilize the layers with 2 bamboo skewers while I frosted it – filling was maybe a little soft (should have left in frig longer) & I like a firm frosting, so I added just one T of cream. Wonderful cake!

  4. To be completely honest in my review I must admit that I did not eat this cake. I cannot stand coconut so this was a labor of love for my husband’s birthday and for family members that love coconut. Their opinion of this cake? It was awesome! My niece said she was going to hide it in her room so no one else could have any.

    This cake recipe may look intimidating with all the steps but it’s really not. I made the cake, pastry cream, and frosting the day before and refrigerated until I was ready to assemble. I did need to whip the buttercream back up because it had gotten stiff so I added a little more coconut cream and put it back in my mixer. I made the chocolate topping first, put the cake together, and by the time I was done the chocolate was ready to spread on top. Great recipe!

  5. Hey there, can this cake be made without the pastry filling? Just the chocolate cake and the buttercream for the filling instead?

    1. Of course. You may need to double the buttercream to have enough to fill and frost the cake.

  6. I made this recipe for a friends birthday and it got rave reviews! The cake itself was light but moist and the filling was delicious as well. The sweetness of the entire cake is in the icing. I added coconut extract to the icing because my friend is a coconut lover and it was perfect. Thank you for this recipe!! Will definitely circle back to this in the future.

  7. Is the canned coconut milk sweetened or unsweetened?

  8. Do you ever toast the coconut for this cake.
    I made it once and loved the cake so making again for my mother in laws 99th birthday She loves coconut!

    1. Hi, Judy. I’ve not toasted the coconut for this recipe. Toasted will enhance the flavor but I’m not sure if the texture will be suitable for cake.

  9. Coconut milk or coconut cream?

  10. I made this for my mom’s birthday to rave reviews. Due to the limitations of my kitchen I baked it in two 8″ pans and sliced each into two layers. To my amazement the cake stayed perfectly tender despite the longer bake time (and my oven’s sudden pilot light shenanigans). There was still *almost* enough filling to do three in-between layers instead of two; next time if I have the same constraints I’ll scale that recipe up a little. I made a 2/3 recipe of the buttercream and that was more than enough, even without scraping down the sides of the cake as instructed. I used coconut rum because I didn’t have extract, so the coconut flavor was mild (but still there and delicious), and Country Crock plant butter worked perfectly in both the cake and frosting. I will definitely try coconut cream in the frosting next time for the extra flavor. I skipped the chocolate glaze due to time constraints but decorated the top with toasted almonds instead. So keeping about 80% to the recipe produced 100% satisfaction! Thank you for sharing this!