This towering dessert is made up of layers of super-moist, almost puddinglike coconut cake spread with tangy passion fruit curd, then topped with whipped cream and crispy flakes of toasted coconut. The recipe is from Cynthia Wong, pastry chef in Decatur, Georgia. The cake may look intimidating, but it's easy to make: "Just pop the layers out of the baking pans and slap them together," Wong says.
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup passion fruit nectar or puree
4 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean—split, seeds scraped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
2 cups large, unsweetened dried coconut flakes
2 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the bottom of three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt at low speed. Mix in the butter, coconut milk, water and vanilla until combined. Scrape down the bowl and beat at high speed until very smooth, 2 minutes.
In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, 2 minutes. Fold half of the egg whites into the batter until incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Divide the batter among the cake pans. Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert them and let cool completely, about 2 hours.
In a saucepan, whisk the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in the passion fruit nectar, egg yolks and vanilla seeds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until thick, 6 minutes. Remove from the heat; whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated. Scrape the filling into a glass bowl, press a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
Using a serrated knife, cut each cake in half horizontally to create 6 layers. Set one layer on a cake plate. Spread with 6 tablespoons of the filling. Repeat with the remaining 5 cake layers and filling, ending with a layer of cake. Refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
Spread the coconut on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, stirring once, until lightly toasted. Let cool. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream with the sugar until medium-firm peaks form.
Frost the top and side of the cake with the whipped cream and coat with the coconut. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
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