dream a little dream – coconut mango cake

by hungryrabbit on March 11, 2011

Coconut Mango Cake

Seeing coconuts in stores reminds me of our recent travels in Asia–3 weeks of foodie adventures in Hong Kong, Penang and Singapore with tropical warm weather and surprising amalgamations of flavors. Hong Kong had the familiar flavors of childhood with some new Euro influences. Penang and Singapore, on the other hand, introduced me to unfamiliar combinations of flavors.

I recently posted a Coconut Tart with Glazed Peanuts. Now, my longing for warm weather and perhaps another vacation, I returned to coconut for a another reminder of that trip. Fresh tropical fruits are bountiful year-round in South East Asia, but only a handful of them are readily available in the States, so, I chose coconut and mango for this undertaking. Coconut cake made from fresh coconut has the ultimate blast of flavor, but again, it’s not available to everyone. Also, preparation is quite a daunting task–the drilling of the shell, the baking of the coconut, the scraping of the flesh, and so on. By all means, try it for a really special occasion, but for now here’s something easier.

Fresh mangos might not be available at all times, but you can use frozen mangos or puree from Trader Joe’s for this recipe. Make this cake so you can dream of a journey to a far away land, where the warm breeze, fragrant scent and ambrosial nectar will bring new experiences.

Coconut Cake w Mango Curd

recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
makes one 9-inch, 4-layer cake

1 large egg
5 large egg whites
3/4 cup cream of coconut
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2-1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), sifted
3/4 cup granulated sugar (5-3/4 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, softened, but still cool
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes (about 8 ounces)
Mango Curd, recipe to follow
Seven Minute Frosting, recipe to follow

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and dust with flour.

2. Beat egg whites and whole egg in large measuring cup with fork to combine. Add cream of coconut, water, vanilla, and coconut extract and beat with fork until thoroughly combined.

3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed to combine. With mixer still running on lowest speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about 2 minutes.

4. With mixer still running, add 1 cup liquid. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. Add remaining 1 cup liquid in steady stream (this should take about 15 seconds). Stop mixer and scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then beat at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.

5. Divide batter between cake pans and level with offset spatula. Bake until deep golden brown, cakes pull away from sides of pans, and toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes (rotate cakes after about 20 minutes). Do not turn off oven.

6. Cool in pans on wire racks about 10 minutes, then loosen cakes from sides of pans with paring knife, invert cakes onto racks and then re-invert; cool to room temperature.

7. While cakes are cooling, spread coconut flakes on rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until are a mix of golden brown and white, about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Cool to room temperature.

Mango Curd
12 ounces mango puree from about 2 fresh mango, or Trader Joe’s mango puree
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime/lemon juice
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. Combine mango puree, sugar, lime juice, salt and yolks in a medium-size bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); whisk puree until thickened and thermometer registers 170°F., about 12-15 minutes.

2. Remove bowl from simmering water and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through a sieve into a container; place pa piece of plastic wrap directly on top of mango curd. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Seven-Minute Frosting
3/4 plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

1. Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup and water in a small saucepan; set over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Increase to medium heat and bring mixture to a boil without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.

2. While sugar mixture is boiling, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, beat until combined.

3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes.

4. Add coconut extract, beat to combine.

1. With a long serrated knife, cut both cakes in half horizontally so that each cake forms two layers.

2. Put a dab of icing on a cardboard round cut just larger than the cake. Center one cake layer on the round.

3. Place 1/4 cup of mango curd in the center of the layer and spread it to the edges with an off-set spatula. Top with a layer of cake and repeat.

4. Apply frosting on top and side of cake. Press coconut flakes on bottom half of the side of cake.

Recipe Notes
1. If you use fresh mangoes, there will be extra puree.
2. Mango Curd will have a looser consistency than a regular curd.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

KENNECTED March 11, 2011 at 7:57 am


Gail March 11, 2011 at 8:06 am

A tropical vacation in a slice of cake. How glorious!!!

Sukaina March 11, 2011 at 8:07 am

OOOOH….mangoes and coconuts are my favourite flavours….i sometimes just chop up some mangoes and pineapples and sprinkle with freshly grated coconut! What a showstopper of a cake!

Terra March 11, 2011 at 8:17 am

I just started following you on twitter, and now will definitely be following your blog:-) Love the combination of flavors, it really sounds like it goes well together! I am a huge fan of mango, and that curd looks fun to use in many things:-) Your pictures are stunning!
Take care,

merry jennifer March 11, 2011 at 8:51 am

I may be the only one in my house that likes coconut, so I rarely eat it at all – unless we’re eating out. This cake sounds incredible (and your photos are gorgeous, of course!). I might have to sneak some coconut into the house for this.

Brian @ A Thought For Food March 11, 2011 at 9:13 am

This cake makes me so happy. I’ve always loved coconut and the addition of mango is so lovely… give me a slice of this and a margarita and send me off to tropical lands.

Megan March 11, 2011 at 11:49 am

What a beautiful cake! Very tempting indeed. :)

Barbara | VinoLuciStyle March 11, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Oh my…what else can I say. Well…you know me, a lot!

The cake looks and sounds divine Ken but what caught my eye…I love that fork with the word Fork on it…very cool indeed.

Daydreamer Desserts March 11, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Quite a gorgeous looking cake… totally dreamy!

Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite March 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Ken this cake is totally stunning. I can almost *feel* the warmer weather on its way! And I am like Barb – love the cake but the food nerd in me loved the fork just as much :-)

Eleanor Hoh March 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Ken, I love coconut but can’t bake! Do you sleep? This would take me a week to accomplish. Beautiful job.

SWEETSUGARBELLE March 11, 2011 at 7:28 pm


Diane {createdbydiane.blogspot.com} March 12, 2011 at 12:44 am

oh my goodness, coconut and mango curd DELICIOUSNESS!!!!

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen March 12, 2011 at 9:25 am

Gorgeous cake! The mango curd sounds fantastic, I could just eat that all by itself.

Liren March 12, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Coconut and mango! This is a cake meant especially for me! Okay, I know it isn’t, but those are two of my all time favorite flavors :)

Rosie @ Sweetapolita March 13, 2011 at 9:57 pm

This looks divine! All I’ve been thinking about lately is coconut cake, and I love the addition of mango curd. I also love that fork with the scripted “fork” on it! Thanks for sharing. :)

Mariko March 13, 2011 at 10:17 pm

What a pretty slice! I just so happen to have some mango puree in the freezer. I’ve seen this recipe from CI before and I wanted to try it.

melissa@IWasBornToCook March 13, 2011 at 10:42 pm

What a gorgeous cake! I can only imagine how delicious it must be :)

catty March 14, 2011 at 2:04 am

Look at that amazing whiteness! This is a Christmas cake!!!

Jackie March 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I was lucky enough to get to try some of this cake and it was as delicious as it looks! 😀

Now if only my cakes could come out that light and fluffy…

Jax x

Aggie March 14, 2011 at 5:06 pm

That is a beautiful cake!!

My Man's Belly March 14, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Are you and Brian on the same wavelength…mangos? LOL

This cake looks stunning. I especially like it against the lavender background.

Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie March 15, 2011 at 8:33 am

Oh my. This looks decadent, but light at the same time. Love the fresh flavors of mango paired with the coconut. This tropical combo is getting me pumped for my upcoming trip to Cabo in two weeks. :p Yum!

Adryon March 15, 2011 at 10:09 am

Oh it’s like I can taste it! That pic of the interior is gorgeous. Reminds me of warmer times. Yum!

Donna March 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Some of my favorite ingredients! Dangerously delicious!

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction March 15, 2011 at 10:23 pm

I’m a bit behind and late on commenting… But, I had to say that I just love this cake! I especially love the look of the frosting. I just want to stick my finger in for a taste (which is why you won’t be inviting me for dinner any time soon!).

Soma March 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm

This indeed is a dream cake! I can smell the summer and HOME (and can’t wait till I get there in India to devour the mangoes). The mango curd sounds fantastic to go along with the tropical flavors. I filled in my crepes with coconut and cardamom. The cake is just pure bliss.

rae August 31, 2011 at 7:10 pm

can the cake and curd be frozen? i would like to make this for a wedding cake but i need to transport it and thought that freezing it might make it travel better.

hungryrabbit August 31, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Absolutely, both cake and curd will freeze well.

grace October 29, 2011 at 2:25 am

Hi! I just made this cake today. Unfortunately, the cake didn’t rise at all and is quite dense as a result.

hungryrabbit October 29, 2011 at 7:13 am

Oh no, I wonder what happened. I made this cake several times and that has never happened. If you like, send me an email and I can help you to resolve the problem. –Ken

grace October 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Hi again (: the cake was actually really moist and flavourful! I think there might have been a problem with my baking powder. Thanks all the same!

hungryrabbit October 31, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I’m glad you like the flavor and hope that you will try this recipe again and again.

Michelle April 28, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Hi! I was wondering if you think this cake would also taste good if you filled it with slices of fresh strawberries? Also, what did you frost it with? Thanks!

hungryrabbit April 28, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Hi Michelle, I believe so, but there’s only one way to find out. 😉

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