Chocolate Coconut Cake

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This chocolate coconut cake has 3 layers and has a soft and light chocolatey crumb. It’s slathered in coconut buttercream icing and covered in toasted, nutty coconut. It’s a fun change on a classic layered cake and is perfect for any occasion.


Units Scale

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk or soured milk*

Coconut Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tablespoons canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract (or vanilla extract)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line three, nine-inch cake pans with parchment paper, and butter/grease the sides. To line the cake pans, using a pencil trace the bottoms of the pan on parchment paper, cut out, and face the pencil side down in the cake pans. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix together and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and continue to mix until well incorporated. Next, add vanilla and sour cream and continue to beat until well incorporated.
  4. Alternate the buttermilk and dry ingredients into your butter mixture in 2 additions just until incorporated, making sure to scrape down the bowl as needed.
  5. Divide batter equally into your prepared cake pans.
  6. Place all pans in the oven (on the same rack) and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate pans after 15 minutes and continue to bake for another 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let cakes cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes then place them in the freezer (right in the pans).
  8. Meanwhile, toast your coconut in a large pan on the stovetop for approx. 5 minutes until it’s starting to brown and smells fragrant. Remove from heat and place into a bowl to cool. Be careful not to burn your coconut.
  9. Make your icing. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment add icing sugar and butter together, mix on low. Slowly add coconut milk. Raise the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form. Add coconut extract. Note: add more butter for a creamier icing with less sweetness.
  10. Build your cake. Take cakes out of the freezer and remove them from cake pans (and parchment paper on the bottoms). Dust any crumbs off the cakes with a pastry brush. For an evenly stacked cake, trim cakes by using a bread knife to even out any cake domes that may have happened during baking. 
  11. Build your cake on a cake board or right on your cake stand. Place a dollop of icing in the middle of the board/cake stand. This is to keep your cake in place. Add your first cake layer. Next, add a heaping amount of icing and spread it out over the cake, letting the icing fall over the sides.
  12. Add your next cake layer and ice, letting the icing fall off the sides again. Add your top layer and add icing, again letting the icing fall off the sides.
  13. Ice the sides of the cake, making sure the icing is even and thick enough to press the coconut into the cake.
  14. Fill your palm with a handful of toasted coconut and add to the top of the cake and edges, lightly pressing in. 
  15. Remove any extra coconut around the cake with a pastry brush. Enjoy!


* Make your own buttermilk/soured milk by adding 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 1 cup milk. 

Shake the coconut can before using.

The cake will last 3 days at room temperature stored in a cake dome or covered in plastic, or freeze for up to a month. 


Let me know what you think of this recipe!x
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