Coconut
Cake

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Featured in: "Firefly Season"

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the melted butter, eggs, sour cream, milk and extracts in a large bowl. Mix together, then add the cake mix until well-blended. Stir in coconut. Pour into well-greased pans. For a 9-by-13 pan, bake 35-40 minutes; for two 9-inch rounds, about 30 minutes. Let cakes cool, then frost.

For cupcakes: Use paper liners and coat them with non-stick spray. Fill three-fourths full, as batter won’t rise a great deal. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees (about 21 cupcakes).

Coconut Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 T. butter or margarine, softened

½ t. vanilla extract

½ t. almond extract

1 t. milk (may add more)

2 ½ c. powdered sugar (may add more)

2 c. shredded sweetened coconut, divided

Blend cream cheese, butter and extracts in a large bowl. Add milk and powdered sugar and mix well. Can add more milk and powdered sugar to adjust consistency and sweetness as desired. Stir in 1 c. of the coconut. When finished covering the cake, sprinkle it with the rest of the coconut. Press lightly to adhere it to the frosting.

There are so many variations of this showstopping dessert, but the best might be the easiest: Start with a boxed mix. Angie and Mabel spent weeks perfecting their from-scratch version for Jen’s wedding, but who has the time? If a dusting of shredded coconut isn't enough on its own, you can adorn your cake with whatever garnishes fit the season, such as the rosemary sprigs and pomegranate seeds shown here.

 

Adjusting some of the boxed mix's stir-ins adds to the cake’s flavor, and the sour cream keeps everything from turning just-too-sweet. A little vanilla and almond extract give it from-scratch appeal.

 

A bit of caution: This batter is thick and sticky, so be generous with whatever method you use to grease your pans. I made it as cupcakes, and I wish I’d sprayed the paper liners. If your batter doesn’t rise as high as you might expect, don’t worry. It’s just the rich goodness keeping it grounded.

1 standard-size boxed white cake mix (look for one labeled “moist” or that has pudding in the mix)

4 T. butter, melted

3 whole eggs, lightly beaten

1 c. sour cream (I used the light version)

1 c. milk

½ t. vanilla extract

½ t. almond extract

1 c. shredded sweetened coconut