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Halekulani Hotel Coconut Cake


This cake is a light, creamy concoction that sings "spring." Made from light sponge cake, it's filled with pastry cream and topped off with fresh whipped cream. This fabulous cake came to us from the majestic Halekulani Hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, where it has been the hotel's signature cake for years. It's cut into three layers, then pasted together with pastry cream. Don't worry if your layers aren't perfect; once it's put together, you'll never know. The taste is all you'll care about.

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  • Sponge Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pastry Cream:
  • 1 cup 2% milk divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup amaretto
  • Whipped Cream:
  • 3 cups cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut



Step 1

I like to make this cake the night before in two steps.

Instructions (the night before):
1. To prepare the cake, preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
2. Sift together cake flour, 2/3 cup sugar, salt and baking powder in a small bowl. In separate bowl, combine oil, egg and water; add to flour mixture. Mix until smooth.
3. Whip egg whites and cream of tartar. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter until just combined.
4. Pour into pan and bake about 40 minutes or until center is set. Remove from pan set aside to cool. Store in the refrigerator several hours before cutting.
5. To prepare the pastry cream, combine 3/4 cup of milk, sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles form.
6. In a separate bowl, combine remaining milk with cornstarch; add egg and beat several times.
7. Add 1/4 cup hot milk mixture to egg mixture; mix well. Pour egg mixture back into milk mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Scrape custard into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator.

Instructions (the day of serving):
1. To prepare the whipped cream, combine heavy cream and sugar in a nonreactive mixing bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.
2. Add 1/2 cup of whipped cream, amaretto and 2/3 cup of coconut to pastry cream; stir well. Set remaining whipped cream and coconut aside.
3. When cake is completely cooled, cut into three layers using a serrated knife. Place one layer on a 9-inch cake board or a serving plate. Place half the pastry cream on top and spread to edge evenly. Place second layer of cake on top of pastry cream and spread remaining pastry cream on top. Place third layer of cake on top. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining whipped cream and sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut.


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