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This is a cake for lovers of coconut and chocolate. It is very rich, moist and highly fragrant. It is also rather enormous – would work well as a celebration cake as it will easily serve 8-10.
For the cake
215g plain flour
75g cocoa powder
300g caster sugar
50g ground almonds
50g sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp vanilla paste
3 medium eggs, separated
225ml strong coffee, cooled (or Camp coffee syrup)
100ml coconut oil, melted (I used Groovy Food Company virgin coconut oil)
5 tbsp coconut liqueur
For the frosting
500g ricotta cheese, strained (or full fat cream cheese)
250g unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
1kg icing sugar, more if needed
100g coconut milk powder, more if needed
2 tbsp vanilla paste
100g 70% dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Prepare 4x20cm cake tins by spraying with cake release.
Whisk the egg whites into a stiff meringue and set aside.
Put all the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and mix using the paddle attachment until very well combined. In a measuring jug combine the buttermilk, egg yolks, vanilla paste, coconut oil and coffee. Mix lightly with a fork. Add the wet ingredients to the mixing bowl slowly and mix on medium speed. Increase the speed to high and mix for 2-3m until well combined.
Add a couple of spoonfuls of the meringue and mix to loosen the batter. Carefully fold the rest of the meringue with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Try not to knock all the air out of the meringue, but make sure no white streaks are visible.
Divide the batter equally between the four tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until cakes are well risen, coming away from sides of the tin and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely.
To make the syrup combine the liquor and sugar in a small pot. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for a few minutes until reduced. Brush the syrup over the cakes.
To make the frosting, put the ricotta, vanilla paste, salt and softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high speed until well combined and fluffy. Cover the bowl (otherwise be prepared for an icing sugar blizzard) and slowly add the icing sugar and coconut milk powder while mixing on low speed. Increase the speed to high and mix for 4-5m. The frosting needs to be thick otherwise it will not support 4 layers. If it seems too liquid adjust by adding more icing sugar or coconut milk powder. The coconut milk powder absorbs quite a lot of moisture and works well as a thickening agent (and adds incredible depth of flavour).
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a bowl of simmering water, then cool. Divide the frosting into three large bowls and add the melted chocolate in one of the bowls. Mix thoroughly with a spoon.
Cut three wide strips of baking paper and place on your cake board so they form a triangle. Position your first cake layer on top and spread with a generous amount of the chocolate frosting. Top with 2nd cake layer and add some plain frosting then repeat with 3rd cake layer and more chocolate frosting. Finally, put last cake layer on top and cover entire cake with a thin (crumb coat) layer of plain frosting. Put the cake in the fridge for an hour.
After frosting has cooled and hardened, spread plain frosting over entire cake with a palette knife. To serve, remove the strips of baking paper. If you wish to transfer to a cake stand, lift very carefully using two pastry scrapers (beware, this is one heavy cake!). Top with chocolate curls, flaked coconut or some pretty bunting.
PS: my lovely husband and daughter are not lovers of coconut. If you want to make this without the coconut (and really, what’s the point of that?) replace the coconut oil with vegetable oil and leave out the flaked coconut from the sponge. Replace the coconut milk powder with icing sugar in the frosting.