1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups sugar
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 2/3 cups coconut milk
1 tablespoon coconut rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2 ¼ cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 ¼ cups cream of coconut
4 ½ teaspoons powdered, unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
4 cups whipping cream
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
Silver nonpareils, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease two 9” round cake pans with butter and coat with flour. Tap out the excess.
Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a medium bowl and the whites in a second medium bowl.
Combine the butter and 2 cups of the sugar in a medium bowl beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy.
Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Beat until the mixture comes together.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Stir together the coconut milk, coconut rum, and vanilla in a small bowl.
With the mixer on slow speed, add the flour mixture and the milk mixtures to the butter mixture, adding them alternatively in batches.
When the batter is smooth, transfer it to a large, clean bowl and set aside.
Wash and dry the beaters well. Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean bowl and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form.
Add the remaining ½ cup of sugar in a slow stream and beat until the whites appear glossy.
Fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter, followed by one-third more, and then the remaining egg whites.
Fold in the shredded coconut. Pour the batter into the cake pans and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on a rack.
Put the shredded coconut in a large bowl and set aside. Heat ½ cup of the cream of coconut in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot.
Add the gelatin and the vanilla. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ¾ cup of cream of coconut. Add the mixture to the shredded coconut.
Beat the whipping cream at medium speed until very soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the shredded coconut mixture until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the remaining coconut for garnish. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the flakes are browned around the edges or, if preferred, until the entire flake is browned. Set aside to cool.
To assemble, when the cakes have cooled, remove them from the pans.
Place 1 cake on a serving platter. Spoon half of the filling over the surface, top with a second layer, and spoon the remaining filling on the top and spread over the sides.
Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Pat the toasted coconut all over the cake and garnish with the nonpareils, if desired, just before serving.