I’m not a chocolate fan. At Christmas time when my family fills up the dessert area of our ridiculously long food buffet, I don’t gravitate to the chocolate chip cookies or brownies, but let someone bring a pie or cake that has coconut in it, and I’m bound to have a slice or two of dessert and wonder why I wore pants with a button and zipper.
This coconut cake should be banned from my house because it’s so good that I want to eat it all by myself in one night. It’s definitely one of my all-time favorite cakes. I received the coconut gene from my dad and my granddaddy (his dad). I think that most people either love or hate coconut. For many the texture is odd and they feel like a cow in the pasture trying to chew it. I try not to label those people as weird, since I’m the weirdo who doesn’t go crazy over chocolate.
My old boss shared this recipe with me about 25 years ago. When I found out that one of the ingredients is sour cream, I was shocked. You don’t taste a hint of sour cream, but without it the cake would be overly sweet. Don’t turn your nose up at it if you don’t love sour cream or you will miss out on a cake that will have people thinking that you’re an amazing baker.
This cake also calls for whipped topping. Most of my life I have made this cake using the whipped topping (Cool Whip or the store brand) that you buy in the freezer section. Since buying a Kitchen Aid stand mixer I have been making amazing homemade whipped topping. It is so delicious I could eat a bowl of it with a spoon. Use my homemade Cool Whip whipped topping recipe or buy the store-bought stuff and thaw it in the refrigerator.
A fun way to decorate this cake for the holidays is to tint the coconut flakes by placing them in a large zipper top bag and adding in a couple of drops of food coloring and then shaking the coconut around. Add drops of food coloring in slowly, until the desired color of coconut flakes is achieved. At Easter I like to color the coconut green like grass and decorate the cake with jelly beans and the Peeps Easter Bunnies and Chicks (they’re marshmallow candies in case you have never seen them).
To add to the coconut flavor, even though I used a boxed yellow cake mix, I added 1 tsp. of coconut flavored extract. Use or lose this suggestion.
I think that this recipe is possibly the best gift that I ever received from a boss. Although I’ve moved on from job to job, every time that I make this amazing cake, I still think of the sweet Italian lady who gave me a job and this recipe! I promise that you’ll make this cake year after year.
Bake the yellow cake mix according to the manufacturer’s directions in two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. Allow the cakes to cool and then remove them from the pans.
As the cakes bake, make the filling and frosting in separate bowls and store them both in the refrigerator.
For the filling, in a large bowl mix the sour cream, sugar, and 3/4 of the bag of coconut together. Refrigerate it.
To make the frosting for the outside of the cake, scoop out one cup of the filling mixture and in a separate large bowl mix it with the 12 ounces of whipped topping that you bought or made (this is 1 and 1/2 cups of whipped topping if using homemade). Refrigerate it.
Once the cakes are cooled use a piece of thread or a long, serrated knife to cut each cake in half horizontally. You will now have 4 cake rounds. I usually try to level out the layers so that they don’t stay domed. This helps to keep the filling and frosting from sliding off of the cake.
For a cleaner final product, place waxed paper strips down along the edge of your cake stand so that they can be removed after the frosting process is complete.
Place the first cake round down on your cake stand or cake carrier. Spread a layer of the filling mixture all over the cake and then stack another cake round on top. Spread more filling mixture and then place the third cake round. Spread the final layer of filling and stack the fourth cake round on the top of the cake. Try to evenly split the filling up into thirds as you build the cake layers since you have three layers of filling.
Finally, frost the top and sides of the cake with the frosting, which is the cool whip/filling mixture, and then use the remainder of the coconut to decorate the cake. It can be a little tricky to get the coconut onto the cake and not make a huge mess, but the waxed paper strips suggested above, will help to keep your cake stand clean.
Once you are finished decorating the cake, refrigerate it and then serve it the following day. This is one of those cakes that improves as it sits in the refrigerator, so try to make it a couple of days in advance of when you plan to serve it if you can keep your family away from it. I’ve seen similar cakes on the internet that people call 3 day or 5 day cakes because they make them so far ahead of the time that they will be sliced. I think that’s stretching it a bit and I don’t want to wait that long to enjoy this cake.