Pina Colada Cake

I’m not gonna lie; this is an ambitious cake with many components which you may decide to make only parts of. I recently made this for both my nephews graduation party. The oldest graduated from college, and the younger graduation from high school, so excuse my not so great pictures as I only spent a few minutes taking pictures of the cake at the party.

I love nothing more than a good three layer dramatic cake. Of all the things I make- 3 layer cakes are still my favorite. If you love the taste of pina colada, then this is the cake for you. As I always say, make it your own. If you decide you want to leave out the curd filling and just make a coconut cake with a simple filling, then by all means. I have made this cake many times with different variations. I will also give the variation for this cake in 2 layers at the end of the post for those who want just a 2 layer cake.  If you can find the large flake unsweetened coconut- it is an especially elegant cake; Bobs Red Mill makes a good version of the large flake coconut if you can find it.  Another variation is to fill it with store bought lemon or lime curd. Dickensons makes a great lime curd if you can find it. Since I cover the cake with sweetened coconut I purposely leave the coconut buttercream on the subtle side. If you like a real full on coconut taste you may also decide to flavor all of the buttercream with more coconut extract. Just play around with it- by adding a little at a time until you like the taste. The cake takes a while to make and assemble, so when I am planning to make it- I like to make the syrup, pineapple curd and the buttercream the day before to save time. Just keep all 3 components chilled overnight.

* If you don’t like the visible flecks of vanilla bean in the frosting then you can use vanilla extract instead. I personally like the flavor of the vanilla bean paste over the vanilla in this buttercream as it adds a more pronounced flavor.

Coconut Pina Colada Cake

Pina Colada Cake 1

Pina Colada Cake 2

PIna Colada Cake 3

Pina Colada Cake 5

Pina Colada Cake


Pineapple Curd

recipe: adapted from Donna Hay

300 gms Fresh Pineapple, chopped coarse

2 tsp. lemon juice

3 egg yolks

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 Cup caster (superfine) sugar

150 gms unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces.

In a food processor or vitamix, or super powered blender; process the pineapple until smooth. Strain pineapple directly into a small saucepan. Add in the lemon juice and stir with a heat proof spatula. Add in the sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch and stir vigorously or whisk to combine. Place over medium heat and stir continuously with the spatula or non metal whisk until thickened; about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter in pieces. Place in a bowl and cover directly with plastic wrap over surface. Chill until ready to use. Makes about 1 1/2 Cups; you will have a little left over. The curd will keep in the fridge for up to one week.


Rum Cake Syrup

1/2 Cup sugar

3/4 Cup water

2 Tbsp. dark rum

1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water to a boil, stirring to ensure sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Set aside to cool at room temperature while you prepare the cake. Note: you can also prepare this a day or two ahead and keep in refrigerator to chill. Makes about 1 cup and you will have some leftover.


Coconut three-Layer Cake

4 3/4 + 2 Tbsp. Cake Flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 Cup unsalted softened butter (3 sticks)
2 1/4 Cup sugar
9 egg whites (if using liquid egg whites from a carton- use 1 1/2 cups liquid measured)
zest of one lemon- finely grated/zested
2 tsp. vanilla or vanilla bean paste. (I like to use the paste)
1 tsp. coconut extract

1 Cup (full fat) coconut milk [shake several times before opening]
1 Cup whole or 2 % milk

1 Cup sweetened flake coconut + more for covering sides and top of cake.

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare three 9 inch cake pans by spraying with nonstick baking spray and lining with parchment circles, then spray lightly again.
2. Whisk first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In bowl of stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy; about 2-3 minutes. Mix coconut milk and whole milk in a 2 cup glass measuring cup, set aside. Add egg whites to butter sugar mixture one at a time or slowly if using liquid whites; stopping frequently to scrape down bottom and sides of bowl. Add extracts and mix. Note: mixture will look really loose and curdled (this is okay and normal)- it will come together in the end. In 3 additions on medium speed, alternate adding 1/3 of the flour mixture with 1/3 milk mixture starting an ending with flour mixture.  Fold in sweetened coconut with a spatula. Divide batter equally between the three pans.
3. Bake at 350° F for about 25 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides and a wooden skewer comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake. It’s okay if you get a few moist crumbs on skewer. Let pans cool on a wire rack until completely cool, then flip out cakes.

Vanilla Bean & Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

6 egg whites (note: I do not use liquid egg whites for this)

1 1/2 Cups sugar

5 sticks unsalted butter, room temp (slightly softened)

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

1/2 tsp. (+ more to taste) coconut extract

In a medium to large saucepan place an inch of water. In the bowl of your stand mixer place the egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl directly over the pan of water and bring water to a simmer; whisking continuously. Whisk the whites and sugar until mixture is 160 degrees F. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer- just heat until you no longer feel any sugar granules and mixture is warm to touch. Remove bowl; wipe off the bottom of any water and place on mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk on medium high speed until a meringue forms and is shiny and stiff; about 5 minutes. Continue to whisk until the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm. Reduce speed to medium and add in one tablespoon of butter at a time until buttercream is smooth. Stop as necessary to scrape down sides and bottom to ensure you are getting on the meringue mixed in. NOTE: It will go through a grainy curdled phase- but don’t worry (this is normal) it will come together- just keep adding in the butter and continue to whip. Once smooth, stop and remove about 1 1/2 cups and place in a bowl large enough to mix. Mix the 1 1/2 cups of buttercream with the coconut extract, then set aside. Mix the remaining buttercream with the vanilla bean paste until all the paste is incorporated.


To assemble:

1. Trim off cake tops with a large serrated knife to level any domed tops. Flip cakes over and also shave off a thin layer of the cake that has turned brown; this helps the syrup soak in a bit more.

2. Place a small dollop of buttercream onto a cardboard cake round. This helps “glue” the cake, so as not to slide while assembling. Place one cake layer down over the dollop of buttercream, being careful to center on cardboard round. Brush cake liberally with the rum syrup. Frost this first layer with the coconut buttercream, until buttercream is level and smooth.

3. Prepare a second cake layer by brushing with syrup and carefully flipping cake over so syrup soaked side rests over the coconut buttercream. Brush the top side of cake also with syrup. Place a generous amount of the pineapple curd over the cake layer and smooth to the side of cake leaving about 1/2 inch boarder as curd will spread a bit. If you want extra assurance; you may pipe a border of vanilla buttercream (about 1/2 inch tall) along the outside edge border of the cake and place the pineapple curd inside the piped boarder. If you like a thicker layer of curd this is a way to get a thicker layer without having to worry about it seeping out the sides of the cake. If you don’t have a piping bag you can simply use a plastic ziplock bag and snip off one of the corners and pipe that way. If find I like this way (using the piped border) as some of the curd tends to soak into the cake after assembling and you can get a thicker layer of curd this way.

4. Brush the third and final layer of cake with syrup and place it soaked side down over the curd layer. Brush the top layer of the cake also with syrup and spread a thin layer of vanilla buttercream over the top and sides of cake to “crumb coat”. Place the crumb coated cake into the fridge for 30 minutes. Frost the cake top and sides with remaining vanilla buttercream until smooth and cover top and sides of cake with flaked coconut. Keep cake chilled in refrigerator. Remove cake about 1 hour before ready to serve to come to room temperature. Store any remaining cake in the refrigerator.


For a 2 layer cake: Follow directions as above but reduce amounts as per below and prepare two 9 inch cake pans and bake as above. Prepare a 5 egg white buttercream.

3 1/4 Cups cake flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Cup unsalted butter

1 1/4 Cups

6 large egg whites

1 tsp. lemon zest (fine)

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla)

1/2 tsp. coconut extract

2/3 Cup coconut milk

2/3 Cup whole or 2 % milk

3/4 Cup sweetened flake coconut + more for finishing cake


Five egg white Swiss Meringue Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Follow method directions as above for buttercream

(enough to frost and fill a 2 layer cake)

5  egg whites

1 1/4 Cup sugar

4 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste OR (Coconut extract to taste if you want coconut buttercream)








Almond Joy Cookies

Apparantly I’m a jam hoarder. I didn’t realize how bad this habit of mine was until we recently got a new refrigerator. Jams, preserves, jellies. Whenever I see jam on sale I can’t stop myself; if it’s something I even fancy I’m apt to buy it and squirrel it away. It’s not that I eat it on toast. I rarely eat jam on toast. It’s more about what you can do with jam. You can take an ordinary buttercream and make it raspberry by just adding a bit of jam. I was shopping one day and right next to the jams and preserves I came across coconut curd. I have never seen “creme coconut curd” in my life.

When I saw this little jar of Dickinson’s creme coconut curd  you know I had to buy it. On the way home from the store I was already thinking of ways to use it. In between soft chewy cookies, as a filling in cake…the possibilities started swirling in my head as I drove.

The sublime combination of chocolate, sweet chewy coconut and almonds which make up an almond joy are the inspiration for these cookies. The cookie portion of this recipe is similar to a parisian macaron type cookie but because I live in serious heavy fog; I created the recipe to suit the weather here. (Macaron’s do not come out well when the weather is foggy). The result is a very fudgy, soft, and chewy cookie.

Almond Joy Cookies


1  1/4 C almond meal

2 cups confectioners sugar

1/4 C dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Valrhona)

3 egg whites (from large eggs)

pinch salt

pinch of cream of tartar

3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

*whole salted almonds (save for garnache-for the top of the cookie)

Purchased Dickinson’s creme coconut curd 

OR Coconut buttercream filling: (see recipe &  method below)

Coconut Buttercream: (see method below)

2 egg whites

1/2 C granulated sugar

1  1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 tsp. coconut flavoring/extract

1/2 cup dried dessicated coconut

Bittersweet Chocolate ganache (see method below)

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips

4 oz. heavy cream

Method for cookies:

1. Combine the almond meal, cocoa powder,  and confectioners sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment; whisk the egg whites, pinch of salt and cream of tartar on high until foamy. Add the granulated sugar and continue whisking on high until the meringue has stiff peaks; about 3-4 minutes.

3. Add about a third of the sugar/almond meal mixture to the meringue and fold until combined. Add the rest of the almond/sugar mixture until the cookie dough is combined and flows like lava when you lift the spatula and let it fall in the bowl.

4. Spoon the cookie dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip (I use a # 806 Ateco). Pipe the cookies on a parchment lined tray about 1 inch in size and leave about 2 inches in between each cookie. After you have piped all the cookies; take the tray and rap it on the counter to help release any air bubbles in the cookies. Let the trays sit out for 1 hour so the tops become fairly dry.

5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 10 minutes, drop the temperature to 300 º degrees and continue baking the cookies for another 6 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cookies it in the oven for about 30 minutes-40 minutes or until the cookies are able to be pulled from the parchement paper without falling apart. (This takes long at my house because of the high humidity/heavy fog where I live). Check the cookies- they should be set and look wrinkly on top, and you should be able to pull them off the paper easily upon lifting.

6. Remove the cookies and let sit on a wire rack to cool completely.

Method for coconut buttercream:

Place the egg whites and sugar set over a bain marie and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the temperature is 160 degrees. Remove from heat. Whip the mixture with a handheld beater (in a large bowl) or on a stand mixture until the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm to the touch. Add one tablespoon of butter at a time while continue whisking; you will see the mixture start to separate (that’s normal) and continue adding the butter a piece at a time until all the butter is incorporated. Add in the extract and dried coconut and whip until combined.

Method for ganache:

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat the cream in a measuring cup in the microwave until the cream is hot. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute before stirring the mixture to become smooth.

Assembly: Dip half of the cookies in the ganache and let sit for about ten minutes and top with one whole almond.  The other half of the cookies pipe or spoon about 3/4 tsp. of coconut filling onto one cookie half; carefully place the ganache topped cookie on top of the half with the coconut filled cookie and twist gently into place.

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