Coconut Cake for Valentine’s Day: A Rich Hawaiian-inspired Dessert

Haupia Cake
Rich but light, haupia cake is filled with layers of coconut-milk pudding.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and we all want to give something sweet to those we find sweetest. Here’s a recipe for haupia cake, an alternative to all the chocolate that abounds this time of year.

Take Your Taste Buds on a Hawaiian Getaway
This rich but light cake is named for the Hawaiian coconut pudding, haupia, which serves as its filling. Everyone you serve it to will swoon with pure coconut bliss.

Haupia Cake
Makes one 9″ four-layer cake
Prepare the cake and the filling the night before serving. Prepare the frosting and assemble on the same day as serving.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup butter (10 Tbsp.)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
5 egg whites

Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter and flour two 9″ round cake pans.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add butter, coconut milk, and vanilla and beat for about 2 minutes.

In a glass or metal bowl, add the room-temperature egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter until completely incorporated.

Pour batter into pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cake just starts to turn golden. Remove and let cakes cool for 15 minutes in the pans, then turn onto rack and cool completely. Wrap layers and freeze overnight.

Haupia Filling:
3-1/2 cups coconut milk
3/4 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cornstarch
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix the water with the sugar, salt, and cornstarch, and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the coconut on medium heat until steaming. Gradually whisk the cornstarch mixture into the coconut milk. Continue cooking on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and bubbling.

Pour the filling into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Lay the wrap directly onto the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Chill overnight.

To assemble the cake: Carefully cut the cakes into two even layers using a serrated knife. If the cakes have a dome top, level them so that the layers will sit evenly.

Stir the chilled haupia filling until smooth. Set aside 1/2 cup for the frosting.

Place one cake layer onto a cake plate. Spread evenly with one-third of the filling. Carefully place the second layer on top and cover with half of the remaining filling. Add the third layer and the remaining filling, and top with the last layer. Store the cake in the refrigerator while you prepare the cream frosting.

Cream Frosting:

2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 cup haupia filling
Unsweetened coconut flakes

Whip the cream in a large bowl. Once it begins to thicken, gradually add the sugar and extract. Continue beating until peaks begin to form. Beat in the haupia until completely incorporated.

Spread the frosting evenly over the assembled cake, starting with the top and finishing with the sides. Sprinkle the frosted cake with coconut flakes. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.