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.

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