(Serves 8 to 12)
- 6 large eggs
- 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.