chocolate & toasted coconut cake with salted coconut caramel filling

I got the opportunity to spend an afternoon baking with the beautiful Athena of EyeSwoon, and we had such a blast together. She is a lovely spirit, and shares my love of sweets. We baked this tasty cake in my apartment for a feature on her site (definitely check it out- lots of food and design lust happening there!). This chocolate and toasted coconut cake with salted coconut caramel sauce turned out perfectly, and I will definitely make it again soon!

Cake:

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Buttercream:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes, for topping

Caramel:

  • 1 can full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

Make the caramel ahead of time. Combine the coconut milk, maple syrup, and coconut palm sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and cook, whisking frequently, about 20 minutes until mixture has thickened and is a dark amber color. Turn off heat and whisk in the vanilla, salt, and butter until smooth. Cool completely, and then store in an closed jar in the fridge for up to 1 week. This will make much more than you need for this recipe. Feel free to drizzle some over each individual slice, or over ice cream!        

For the cakes, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two 8 inch round pans with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper and dust with cocoa powder.

Add the vinegar and milk to your stand mixer bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Next, add in the applesauce, coconut oil, and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Turn your mixer to low and slowly pour the dry ingredients in until everything is incorporated. Turn the mixer speed up to medium-high and let run until your batter is evenly smooth and no lumps remain.

Divide the dough between the two prepared pans and let bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center. Remove from oven and let cool.

While the oven is still heated, place coconut on a lined baking sheet and place in oven to toast. Bake for about 10 minutes or until most of the flakes have browned.

While everything is cooling, remove the coconut caramel sauce from the fridge to come to room temperature. Beat together all buttercream ingredients, and set aside.

To assemble, place the first layer of cake on a cake stand, removing any domed area to create a flat surface. Add a layer of coconut caramel on top, and sprinkle with toasted coconut, if desired. Top with the second layer of cake, making sure the layers are even. Using an offset spatula, spread the buttercream all over the outside and top of the cake, smoothing out any rough patches. Immediately sprinkle the toasted coconut all over the sides of the cake so that it sticks to the buttercream. Serve and enjoy!

*Can be made vegan by substituting vegan butter for the unsalted butter.

**Can also be made as 3 layers using 6 inch cake rounds. Increase baking time to 30-35 minutes.

***Adapted from Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake by Minimalist Baker, and Chocolate & Toasted Coconut Olive Oil Cake by Vegetarian ‘Ventures.

Photos by Chloe Crespi