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Chocolate-Coconut Cake

Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
30 mins
Prep Time:
45 mins

Chef notes

I love this old-fashioned classic flavor combination of chocolate and coconut and fluffy white marshmallow frosting.

Technique tip: Put a small amount of icing in the middle of your cake stand to "glue" the bottom layer to the cake plate so it doesn't move around. The cake is best made 12 hours before serving.

Swap option: Add toasted sliced almonds to the filling and decorate the top with the nuts and then the coconut.


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1⅔ cups granulated white sugar
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • cups cake flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
  • teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⅓ cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, preferably Baker's Sweetened Angel Flake Coconut (optional)
Fluffy White Filling and Frosting (makes about 4½ cups; enough to fill and frost a 9-inch round layer cake)
  • cups granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, preferably Baker's Sweetened Angel Flake Coconut


For the cake:


Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the cake pans with baking spray.


Cream the sugar and coconut oil together with an electric mixer on medium speed until the sugar is completely integrated (it will be less fluffy than butter and sugar), 2-3 minutes.


With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary.


Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a large bowl until well combined.


Mix the milk and vanilla together in a small bowl. Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture alternately to the sugar mixture in small batches. Beat well after each addition. Beat on medium-low until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary.


Divide the batter equally between the 2 prepared pans. Lightly tap each pan down on the counter to make sure the batter is evenly distributed and to remove excess air bubbles.


Bake until the layers pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.


Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove them from the pans onto wire cooling racks. Let cool for a couple of hours before filling and frosting.

For the fluffy white filling and frosting:


Place the sugar and cream of tartar in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan with a lid. Whisk to combine. Add the water and salt and place over medium heat. No need to stir the water and sugar. Bring to a boil, covered, without stirring, until the syrup spins a thin 8-inch thread when poured from a spoon (242°F on a candy thermometer), 3-5 minutes.


While the syrup is cooking, beat the egg whites until they're stiff enough to hold a peak, 4-5 minutes.


Pour the hot syrup very slowly into the stiff egg whites, beating constantly. Add the vanilla and beat well. The frosting should look very fluffy.


Place one-third of the frosting in a separate bowl, add the coconut, and mix (this will become the filling between layers, the rest will frost the top and sides of the cake).

To assemble:

Working quickly, carefully trim a thin slice off the rounded tops of each layer to even them out. Turn 1 layer bottom side up and smooth the coconut filling onto the surface. Top with the second layer. Frost the side a scoop of frosting at a time, then smooth a layer of frosting on the top of the cake while the icing is still warm. If desired, sprinkle coconut on the top and sides of the cake.