Chocolate Coconut Layer Cake

And to finish off the meal, a proper birthday dinner should have cake! Chef Matt's menu called for a Coconut Cake. Since we were celebrating my birthday and all, there had to be some chocolate incorporated... and coconut and chocolate go well together. That said, I made a Chocolate Coconut Layer Cake. I made the coconut cake batter as written in the recipe, but reserved about 1/4 of the batter where I stirred in dutch cocoa. Instead of baking the cake batter in traditional cake pans, I spread the batter onto an jelly roll pan. I then dolloped some of the chocolate coconut cake batter on top, then swirling the two cake batters to gently combine. The cake was then baked, cooled and I cut the large jelly roll cake into four equal pieces. While the cake was baking and cooling, I prepared the coconut simple syrup, coconut cream filling and also a chocolate ganache. When the cake layers were cool, I started to assemble the cake by brushing a layer with the coconut simple syrup, followed by a layer of chocolate ganache. Another cake layer went on top of that, another brushing of coconut simple syrup and then the coconut cream filling. I repeated these steps, ending with coconut cream filling, which I piped on top with a decorative tip. To finish the cake, I toasted some shredded coconut and sprinkled them on top. Fresh strawberries were on sale so I served them alongside the cake for a bit of color and freshness.

Chocolate Coconut Layer Cake
recipe adapted from Plugra

Chocolate Marbled Coconut Cake Layers
2 cups cake flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2½ cups unsweetened coconut milk
1½ tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
8 oz. Plugrá® European-Style Butter, unsalted
1½ cups granulated white sugar
2 eggs, extra-large
1 cup egg whites (about 7 to 8 extra-large eggs)
½ tsp. cream of tarter
1½ cups granulated white sugar
2 tablespoons dutch cocoa powder

Coconut Simple Syrup
2 tbsp. unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsp. cream of coconut
½ cup Bacardi® Rock Coconut™ Rum
1 cup simple syrup

Coconut Cake Filling
2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
¼ cup cream of coconut
1½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream

Toasted coconut for garnish

Coconut Cake Layers
Preheat oven to 325°F.

Butter a jelly roll pan. Line with parchment paper; butter parchment, dust lightly with flour and shake off excess.
Sift together cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
In a separate bowl, combine unsweetened coconut milk and vanilla; whisk to blend, add coconut and stir to blend.
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat Plugrá Butter and 1½ cups sugar for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated; transfer batter to a large bowl.
Alternately add flour mixture and coconut mixture to batter in 3 batches, until blended.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a wire whip, beat egg whites with cream of tartar and 1½ cups sugar to form medium stiff peaks; add to batter, stirring slowly with a balloon whisk until incorporated.
Reserve 3/4 of the batter. To the remaining 1/4 of batter, stir in dutch cocoa powder. Set aside.
Spread white batter evenly in the jelly roll pan. Dollop with the dutch cocoa batter and using a butter knife, swirl into the white batter to gently combine and marble; tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.
Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; cool on cooling racks for 5 minutes. Run a knife around outer edges of pan and cut into four equal rectangular pieces. Transfer cake pieces onto a wire rack to cool.
Coconut Simple Syrup
Combine unsweetened coconut milk, cream of coconut, coconut rum and simple syrup and whisk to blend. Reserve.

Coconut Cake Filling
In bowl of stand mixer filled with a wire whip, combine heavy cream, cream of coconut, confectioner’s sugar, shredded coconut and vanilla extract.

Whip until stiff peaks form.
Chocolate Ganache
Place the chocolate chips into a heat proof bowl.
Heat the heavy cream in a microwaveable container (I used a glass measuring cup) and microwave for 3-4 minutes on high or until it just begins to simmer. Do not let the cream boil over. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let it stand for 2 minutes. Whisk until chocolate is smooth and let it come to room temperature by letting it sit for 30 minutes or chilling in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Whisk again just before assembling the cake. 
Assemble Cake
Arrange 1 cake layer on a cake stand or large plate. Brush the top of cake generously with reserved coconut simple syrup. Using an offset spatula, spread evenly with coconut cake filling and chocolate ganache, alternating as you please. Repeat with 2nd and 3rd cake layer.

Place remaining coconut cake filling into a piping bag and pipe on top of the cake.
Garnish the top of the cake with toasted coconut and chill cake for 3 hours before serving.

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