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The Ultimate 12-Layer Coconut Cake From Famed Peninsula Grill

It's hard to beat a good coconut cake, especially if you live in the South, but the actual baking can be a pain on your own. It's not because the cake is necessarily hard to get right, it's just that it may take more time than you're used to. If you're in the South — let's say Charleston — and you're in need of a decadent coconut cake, you probably won't find anything better than what comes out of the Peninsula Grill.

Fittingly called The Ultimate Coconut Cake, this 12-layer dessert is infused with fresh vanilla and coconut, featuring a pound cake center that's topped with icing made from cream and butter. The icing is then coated in toasted coconut and simple syrup. Refined by Peninsula Grill's Pastry Chef Claire Chapman, this cake tends to be the first choice of Charleston brides and has been given kudos by the likes of Martha Stewart, The New York Times, Vogue, and Bobby Flay. If you don't live in the area and want to order one, not to worry because the restaurant ships nationally on a daily basis. In the meantime, try making your own!

Yields: One cake
Serves: 20 generous portions or up to 30 smaller portions

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut flakes, medium shred
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Sliced strawberries for garnish
Cake Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the coconut evenly onto a medium sheet pan and bake until lightly browned; eight to ten minutes. Reserve for the cake assembly.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs three at a time, mixing well after each addition, until light in color.

In a separate bowl combine the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. In another bowl sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Starting with the cream mixture, alternately add the wet and the dry sifted ingredients until all are incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Spray two (ten-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray and divide the batter evenly among them. Bake until toothpicks inserted into the cakes come out clean; about 50 minutes to an hour.

Filling Ingredients:
  • 5 cups heavy cream
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 9 cups coconut, medium shred
Filling Directions:

In a medium saucepan combine the cream, sugar, and butter and bring to a simmer. In a separate bowl whisk the cornstarch and water together to form a slurry. After the cream comes to a boil remove it from the heat. Stir the slurry into the cream mixture, bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and coconut. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 pound cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Frosting Directions:

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream together the butter, sugar, and cream cheese until light in color. Mix in the vanilla extract until incorporated.

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