Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

coco cake

This is by far the best recipe for coconut cake that I have ever tasted.  I started making this when I first became a manager at work.  I took over managing a team that had a high percentage of turnover each year.  I wanted to do something that would give people incentive to stay…and since you are reading this, you know that all roads lead to food.  I came up with an idea – that I would bring in a baked good of the employees choice twice a year – once for their birthday, and once for their anniversary with the company.  Early on I was asked to make a coconut cake, so I searched the web and looked for the recipe that sounded the most interesting.  Based on my obsession with cream cheese frosting, this one was the clear winner.  Needless to say, I made this coconut cake more than any other baked good – it was requested over and over again.  I stopped doing this when I had my first child – my team was getting too big, and my time was wearing thin.  Let me tell you though – it worked – I had very little turnover during my time managing that team.  They were a happy bunch.

I found this recipe in Bon Appetit, and the ingredient that struck me was the Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut.  This product makes the cake spectacular – it is in both the batter and the frosting.  The cake is not overly sweet, but has an aroma and taste that is perfectly coconut.  Because you fold egg whites into the batter, the cake is light and fluffy.  The cream cheese frosting with the cream of coconut is decadent – and the combination with the cake is sinful.  If you like coconut cake, there is no need to look any further than this recipe below.



  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco López)*
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Pinch of salt


  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco López)*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups shredded coconut

*Canned sweetened cream of coconut is available in the liquor section of most supermarkets nationwide.


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter and sweetened cream of coconut in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in dry ingredients and then buttermilk, each just until blended.

Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites with pinch of salt in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold beaten egg whites into batter.

Divide cake batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

Make the frosting. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until fluffy. Add butter and beat to blend. Add sugar, sweetened cream of coconut and vanilla extract and beat until well blended.

Place 1 cake layer on cake plate. Spread 1 cup Cream Cheese Frosting over cake layer. Sprinkle 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut over. Top with second cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle remaining coconut over cake, gently pressing into sides to adhere. (Coconut Layer Cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before serving.)

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here: Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Coconut Cake 2

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22 thoughts on “Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. I made this into cupcakes and added raspberry jam injected into the center with an icing tip to serve at my daughter’s wedding. My testers said it was the best cupcake they had ever eaten. I’m freezing the cupcakes, then icing before the wedding. Thanks!!Warning though, the longer the batter sits, the less batter you need to put into the muffin cup. It really rises.

  2. I just finished making this as a dessert for my family gathering tomorrow for Easter. The cake came out good (I think, I won’t know for sure until tomorrow) but the frosting is VERY VERY runny. I followed the directions exactly & after realizing my runny frosting wasn’t going to get any thicker, I looked up other cream cheese frosting recipes & the proportions for this recipe are extremely off. I tried to save the frosting by adding more powdered sugar, when that didn’t work I tried corn starch, that didn’t work either & now I’m trying gelatin. It seems this frosting can’t be saved for some reason, perhaps the coconut cream? I’m not sure what the reason is but I’m sure the measurements are off for this recipe.

    1. I am really sorry that the frosting didn’t turn out for you. I have made this recipe many times, so I know the proportions are good. When I have made it in the summer though, before I frost it sometimes I need to put it into the refrigerator to harden slightly. Did you try that? Also – I am not sure where you live, but products are different everywhere, and maybe the cream cheese you used had more water content. Please try putting it into the refrigerator, and hopefully that will do the trick. Again, I am sorry, it is a wonderful cake – I get requests to make it all the time!

  3. I made this cake today and it is AMAZING! The only change I made was to toast the coconut before placing it on the cake. My sister said it was better than my Grandmothers much loved coconut cake that has been in our family for decades! Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I saw a recipe for coconut cake with cream cheese frosting in a magazine and, just when I was ready to make it yesterday for Easter dinner, couldn’t find it. So I Googled it and found this recipe. I think this will become a family favourite, if not a tradition. Since then I found the magazine and think I’m fortunate not to have made it but instead found this one. It’s a keeper! Moist, flavourful, decadent, what more can I say?

    1. I’m so glad you found this recipe, it is the best, isn’t it? I can’t say enough good things about it – thanks so much!!

  5. I’ve made this cake for years – to me, it is insanely good! It is definately a different take on the typical super sweet coconut cake! I had lost the recipe a few years back and was very upset – so happy I found it on her! Again, to me, it is gourmet restaurant worthy!!! Thanks!!!

  6. I substitutes coconut extract for the vanilla extract and absolutely loved the cake. I can’t wait to make it again.

  7. I followed this recipe exactly but it did not come out looking like your picture. Light and fluffy? It was very heavy and dense. Very disappointing.

    1. I’m really sorry – I have known quite a lot of people to make this and it turned out well for them. Sorry it was not light and fluffy for you.

    2. I just made this last week for a “coconut day get-together” w/ a Filipino family in town and it was gone in a flash! This is definitely a dense but fluffy cake NOT dense & heavy (Not even “light & fluffy” as described above by ms. Nova. Sorry.). When I Image Google-d “dense coconut cake” this cake is on the top list of images that popped up. I wanted to make a “dense” cake not a sponge/angel/chiffon cake. When you said above that “This is by far the best recipe for coconut cake that I have ever tasted”, high 5 on that! The Bon Appetit recipe did not even came up on the google search but yours did. This is one of the top 5 of cakes on my list to make right now. Big thanks for posting ♠

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