Let Them Eat A Perfectly Divine Coconut Cake

Let Them Eat A Perfectly Divine Coconut Cake

“I’ve planned a special dessert. Something very American, but that will surprise both Patricia and Luc.” I told her the story behind it, about their disdain for cake mixes, and she laughed along with me.

I think, under different circumstances, we could have been friends.

I cut the dessert into pieces and plated them on the fine Belleek china my mother had unpacked from the new house just for this occasion. Marianne and I carried the plates into the living room and served dessert. We each took a small bite, watching Luc and Patricia for their reaction.

Délicieux!” Margot proclaimed. “And I should know.”

“Is there a secret ingredient in this recipe?” Luc asked, eyes twinkling in a friendly manner. I think he was on to me.

Mais oui,” I said. “But first, please tell me, do you like it?”

“You win,” Patricia said begrudgingly as she scraped the crumbs from her plate. Marianne and I laughed together, and when I shared the joke with the others, Luc laughed too, though Patricia and Margot barely smiled.

After dessert I cleared the dishes and left them quietly chattering, satisfied, I hoped, that they realized Americans weren’t complete culinary barbarians.

Let Them Eat a Perfectly Divine Coconut Cake

(with a Cake Mix!)



One box butter recipe yellow cake mix

One small box coconut cream instant pudding

3 eggs

1 1/3 cup coconut milk (not coconut cream). You may have to emulsify this as it comes out of the can separated.

1/2 tsp coconut extract

1 stick of butter, softened



1 stick butter, softened

4 cups powdered sugar

1/8  cup milk or cream

1 tsp coconut extract

Shredded Coconut

Chopped Pecans (if desired)


First, mix together the cake mix and the instant pudding till completely combined. Then add the 3 eggs, the coconut milk, the coconut extract, and the butter.

Blend for about 3 minutes in standing mixer or 5 minutes with handheld, in order to give the pudding time to develop.

Spread into two 8” round greased/floured cake pans. Light aluminum works better than dark or glass. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 until the cakes are just set and barely beginning to pull away from the pans. Don’t overbake till edges are brown or pulling away from pan. Let cool completely.

Whip the frosting ingredients together until completely fluffy. Frost the cooled cake, placing the first cake layer, round side down, on a plate, then spread frosting across the middle. Put the flat side of the other layer down on frosted center. Frost sides and top of cake.

Toast some coconut till golden brown (not dark brown) in the oven. Chopped pecans, too, if you prefer. Sprinkle on top of cake.

Cake photo courtesy of Sarah Eichsen.