28 Mar2006


Several months ago we had a good family friend out at the beach for the weekend. RM is the guy who helped me get this blog started and also the one who generously doubled my book donation drive during the holidays. He had asked if I would teach him how to make some desserts, and I think the most sought after outcome was this Chocolate-Coconut Cake that he had spied in my Francois Payard booked entitled Simply Sensational Desserts. I have used dozens of recipes from this Payard book and have never been disappointed. In addition to this recipe, we cooked or baked about a dozen different desserts from leche flan to yemas to angel food cake (so much easier to cook in bulk…) and we had what is perhaps the highest sugar/calorie intake weekend ever…

There is something absolutely classic about the pairing of coconut and chocolate. In the same way foie gras and green apples or coco5French fries and ketchup are perfect together, this is an inspired combination. But it is not a combination that I am particularly fond of. Childhood experiences with coconut in chocolate from my parents’ treasured boxes of Whitman’s Sampler (remember those yellow boxes with cross-stitch patterns?) and later with bizarre ‘tropical exotic’ Bounty Bars during college did not leave a favorable impression. In fact, I can’t think of a Filipino delicacy that melds the two despite the fact that we grew cacao and lots of coconut. I mean, folks don’t generally munch on chocolate covered bucaio or macaroons or eat buko pie with tsokolate eh…

Nevertheless, this Payard dessert looked terrific and to make RM happy, I made sure we would attempt this recipe…though I admit now that the perfect slice of cake in the cookbook photo was just a tad intimidating. While the coco2recipe looked simple enough… layers of baked coconut “sponge” layered between rich chocolate ganache… the short list of ingredients meant you absolutely had to use the best you could find. First problem, or so I thought, was the need for unsweetened dried shredded coconut. There isn’t any unsweetened coconut in Manila groceries, I checked several. So I decided to make my own. On the way to the beach I passed by the market and had them grate 5 coconuts without their going all the way to the shell so that I absolutely, positively only had the white meat, no brown bits. Then back home, I laid the freshly shredded coconut out on pizza pans and dried them in the hot sun for at least 6 hours until they felt dry but still fresh. It was a lot easier than I thought. And it tasted very good.

So here is the Payard recipe. Make the chocolate ganache ahead as it takes 4 hours to chill in the fridge. Put 300 grams of good bittersweet chocolate that is finely chopped into a large stainless steel or heatproof glass bowl. Add 100 grams of milk chocolate finely chopped. Bring 1 and 2/3 cup of heavy cream to a boil in a medium saucepan and coco4immediately pour the cream over the chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth and cover this with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface of the chocolate and refrigerate until firmish, say 4-4.5 hours. Make the coconut sponge by lightly but completely greasing a baking sheet about 17 x 12 inches in size and which has about a 1 inch side. Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Line the bottom of your pan with baking or parchment paper (not wax paper). Fill a medium pan with about 1/3 water and heat this up. In a stainless mixer bowl, whisk 4 large organic eggs and 1.5 cups of white sugar (I used caster sugar which is finer than most grocery granulated sugars) and whisk until mixed. Put the stainless bowl over the simmering water and whisk until it is warm to the touch (not hot or boiling). Put the mixer bowl in the mixer and use the whisk attachment to mix the egg/sugar until it has tripled in volume, roughly 5-7 minutes. Fold in 3 and 2/3 cups of unsweetened dried shredded coconut using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Pour this batter into the greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top of the cake is a light golden brown. Cool the cake for 15-20 minutes while still in the pan. Take a knife and run it around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert onto a wire rack and remove the parchment paper. The cake is a bit mabusisi or delicate. Cool the cake on the wire rack until it is totally cool.

Assemble the dessert. Cut the coconut “cake” into three equally sized rectangles. Place one rectangle on your serving platter and spread a generous layer of chilled chocolate ganache with a spatula. Place the second layer of coco3coconut and so forth. Ice the whole cake with the remaining chocolate then sprinkle it with about 1 cup of lightly toasted shredded coconut. Refrigerate until you serve the cake. Some tips to help you make a knockout cake. Don’t stress over looks, the taste is brilliant even if lopsided. But don’t scrimp on ingredients… I used the best Valrhona chocolate I could find and it showed. Also, the homemade dried coconut made a huge difference in my opinion…the cake was “real,” fresh and sophisticated all at the same time. Slice it after chilling for a while, makes for cleaner cuts. Payard suggests serving this with vanilla ice cream or chocolate sorbet…talk about going over the top! The cake was delicious and has changed my view on the pairing of chocolate and coconut…



  1. frayed says:

    It does look really good. Ganache must be my favorite form of chocolate dessert. ANd mixing coconut w/choc has certainly gone a long way from the time we used to be the unfortunate ones who picked it out of an assorted box of chocolate. (that and the pink filling ones were the worst)

    Mar 28, 2006 | 6:31 am


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  3. millet says:

    almond joy without the almonds!

    Mar 28, 2006 | 8:41 am

  4. Jen Tan says:

    Oh my that look really good! Would you know any place/bakeshop where they have choco-coconut cake like yours? =)

    Mar 28, 2006 | 9:24 am

  5. iBern says:

    That has to be the most **** cake I’ve ever seen! (sorry, can’t resist!)

    Well anyway, I wish I’m as handy with the mixer and oven as my mom so I can make these… I guess I’ll settle for the next best thing — head on over to Glorieta and get some of those sinful Papa-something creampuffs!

    [**** = Delicious]

    Mar 28, 2006 | 9:34 am

  6. Mila says:

    I do remember those Whitman boxes! They still sell them by the way, and now that I’m older, they are probably on the bottom rung of chocolate choices. They shouldn’t be called chocolates but candy with some cocoa. And what is up with Mounds anyway? Who can eat all that so called coconut filling?

    Sorry, I was overcome with nostalgia :)

    My question: would it be possible to dry the coconut in a low heat oven (maybe 120 fahrenheit?) to avoid it getting dusty if drying in the city? Or would it be too toasty?

    A friend of mine taught me a Dobos torte, and I have a lot of respect for anyone who makes layer cakes now.

    Mar 28, 2006 | 11:15 am

  7. Ria says:

    Hmnn, I love coconut and chocolate, and true, I have yet to find another who likes the combination. There seems to be an aversion here to non-Filipino coconut desserts. I’ve tried cake and cookie recipes with it, and once it dawns on the eater that it has coconut, they go ewww.

    Got to get me that book, MM! I still have your warm chocolate tart in my “to do” list.

    Mar 28, 2006 | 12:27 pm

  8. Em says:

    I don’t really like choco-coco mixed but this looks very tempting. Where can I get Valrhona chocolate?

    Mar 28, 2006 | 6:07 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    You can get Valrhona chocolate from several baking supplies stores (see my previous posts on baking ingredients) in Mandaluyong, QC, Makati. Also, cooks exchange carries bulk chocolate that is more reasonably priced. Ria, if you like chocolate, Payard’s book is a great one. Mila, a very low heat oven would probably work in the city. What is a dobos torte? I have never come across that before. iBern, those PapaBeard things are wicked! A friend from HK introduced us to them on a trip there once… Jen Tan, I haven’t seen this cake at bakeries locally but if you go to NYC, Payard has a Patiserrie on Lexington Avenue between 73rd and 74th Streets…

    Mar 28, 2006 | 6:29 pm

  10. Bay_leaf says:

    that looks so yummy, MM. i could do with a small piece with my espresso… :)

    Mar 28, 2006 | 6:52 pm

  11. maeli'i says:

    WoW!!! That looks yummy to my tummy!!! I love coconut…chocolate cake with coconut is the best!!! Yesterday I went to Walmart, I bought myself Toasted Coconut Marsmallow…

    Mar 28, 2006 | 7:39 pm

  12. ana says:


    Mar 28, 2006 | 9:12 pm

  13. Candice says:

    Oh chocolate ganache! I think I’d end up just eating it to result in having to fail miserably at attempting to bake an actual cake. Oh, but your recipe sounds divine!

    Do you have anything for a chocolate and orange flavor tandem? Not everyone enjoys the combination, but I crave for it. ;)

    Mar 28, 2006 | 9:21 pm

  14. Mila says:

    Dobos torte is a hungarian/austrian layer cake, using at least 6 sponge cakes, layered in between chocolate cream. Topped by caramel. Mandarin deli has a version, but it’s nice to get to make it at home too.
    I like Beard Papa’s cream puffs, especially the ones with a chocolate and peanut icing.

    Mar 29, 2006 | 12:02 pm

  15. lori says:

    I heart coconut, although I must say that when it’s paired with chocolate, I don’t like it anymore. MM, thanks for the tip on how to dry out the coconut. I’ve been using the Angel Flake coconut of Baker’s and it costs too much. Delicious, but costly. Your idea is brilliant, something that I will try.

    Mila, I don’t recommend drying out the coconut in the oven. It will toast and become tan. Best to use our natural source of heat — the sun! :)

    Mar 29, 2006 | 1:21 pm

  16. Alicia says:

    Haven’t been to the site in a while and when I saw this posting just had to read it before anything else. I absolutely love coconut and chocolate. Bounty bars, Mounds.. anything. In fact for a bake sale at my daughters school two weeks ago I made chocolate dipped coconut macaroons.. good for Easter (or Passover) treats! Have to try this recipe! Thank you MM

    Apr 3, 2006 | 6:42 pm


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