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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.

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 with 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.

More chocolate recipes you’ll love

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

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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

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. 


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
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup (56 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1 ½ cups (360 ml) canned coconut milk

For the filling

  • 1 cup (240 ml) canned 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
  • ½ cup (43 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 to 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 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 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.


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
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 374

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

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Saturday 4th of September 2021

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!

Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

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.


Tuesday 6th of July 2021

Coconut milk or coconut cream?

Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 6th of July 2021

The recipe call's for canned coconut milk.


Saturday 12th of June 2021

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!

Sheena Gill

Tuesday 4th of May 2021

Hi Jen. This cake looks incredible and i would love to make it for my brothers birthday... Do you have any tips on how to substitute the eggs in batter, and egg yolks in filling, please? Thanks


Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 4th of May 2021

Unfortunately, I'm not an egg-free baker and have not tested this recipe with any egg substitutes. I'm sorry, I wish I could be more helpful.


Monday 8th of March 2021

Hi! i only have one 8 inch pan.. is it possible to bake the three cakes one at a time? or will it affect the batter if i leave it out too long?

Jen Sobjack

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

According to Google, cake batter should be fine to leave out while you bake each layer. But I've not tested this and can't guarantee how the cake will turn out.

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