Coconut Chocolate Cake Recipe

Fondant Chocolat Noix de Coco

[Coconut Chocolate Cake]

I have known Marie-Laure for nineteen years. This represents more than two thirds of our lives, and our friendship has accompanied us through primary school, junior high, high school, university, a year in Brazil for her, two years in California for me, and a variety of jobs, relationships, and haircuts, without us ever growing apart.

She lived a few doors down from me (or perhaps I lived a few doors down from her, the question is up for debate) for more than a decade, before we flew out of our respective nests. And now, after a few years of living in different countries and then all the way across town from one another, Marie-Laure and I are finally reunited: she has just moved into an apartment a short walk up and down the Montmartre hill from mine, and this makes us very happy.

She threw a housewarming party last Saturday — a pendaison de crémaillère as we say in French, see here for an explanation — and I offered to bring a chocolate cake, which I’m sure you’ll agree is the most efficient way to warm up a house. I decided to build upon Christophe Felder‘s Gâteau Belle-Vue, a butterless (though by no means fat-free) chocolate cake recipe that can be found in one of the pastry chef’s many books and on countless French food blogs — I myself first saw it on Sylvie‘s.

For some reason I wanted to make a coconut version of this cake and while I was at it, I made several other adjustments: I upped the amount of chocolate (I have a reputation to maintain), omitted the almond powder and replaced it with a higher amount of grated coconut, omitted the flour (which makes the cake gluten-free if you make sure your chocolate is, too), used light whipping cream only instead of cream and milk, and added a bit of salt because salt makes everything taste better, especially baked goods.

I loved this cake and, judging by its disappearance ratio (number of slices eaten divided by number of minutes on the buffet table), I wasn’t the only one. The top develops a thin crust while the middle remains lusciously moist (but not so dense that it sticks to your front teeth and creates embarrassing situations), and red Bounty bar fans don’t need me to sing the glories of the bittersweet chocolate and toasted coconut combo. Although no one got a chance to verify it this time, I believe the cake would taste even better the next day: what you would lose in fresh-from-the-oven top crust effect would be regained by the overnight deepening of flavors.

Fondant Chocolat Noix de Coco

150 grams (2 cup) unsweetened dried grated coconut
170 grams (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate (the best quality you can afford), chopped
125 milliliters (1/2 cup) light whipping cream (crème fleurette légère)
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
125 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar

Serves 8 to 10.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a 24-centimeter (9-inch) round cake pan with parchment paper or use a springform or silicon pan. (Alternatively, you can bake the cake in a loaf pan, in muffin tins, or in ramekins.)

Spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 minutes, stirring halfway through, until golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven (leave the heat on) and let cool.

Heat the chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring from time to time, until melted and smooth. Transfer to a large mixing-bowl and let cool for three minutes.

Crack the eggs one by one, separating the egg whites from the yolks: set the egg whites aside in a medium mixing-bowl or in the bowl of a food processor with a whisk attachment, and add the yolks to the chocolate mixture, stirring well with a wooden spoon after each addition. (Tip: crack each egg over a small bowl before adding the egg white to the medium mixing-bowl. That way, if the egg is bad or if you accidently rupture the yolk and a bit of yolk goes into the white — thus making it impossible for the egg whites to rise properly — you can toss this one egg instead of having to start over with all new eggs.) Add the coconut to the chocolate mixture, and stir to combine. The batter will be thick.

Using a handheld electric whisk, a manual whisk and strong forearms, or the whisk attachment of your trusty food processor, start beating the egg whites with the salt — slowly at first, then at medium speed. When the egg whites get frothy, up the speed, add the sugar little by little, and keep whisking until the mixture is shiny and smooth. Lift the whisk from the bowl: if the eggs form an elegant swan-neck shape that doesn’t collapse, you’re all done.

Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in three additions, working gently with a soft spatula to lift the chocolate mixture up and over the egg whites in a circular motion. (Tip: when working with any mixture that includes beaten egg whites, you should never ever tap the side of the bowl or the pan with the tool you’re using — wooden spoon, spatula, whisk, etc. –, as this would cause the egg whites to deflate a little every time.)

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, until the top is dry and the blade of a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (Bake for 5 to 10 more minutes if you’re using a loaf pan, and for 10 to 15 minutes less if you’re using muffin tins or ramekins. Either way, keep a close eye on the baking and use the blade test to be sure.) Transfer to a rack to cool completely and unmold carefully — the cake will be quite fragile.

  • Nothing would make me happier than if a friend showed up to a partay with some yummy chocolate cake :D

  • Yummy! I went to the restaurant Bellevue in Saulxures once, it was pretty nice but I don’t remember having chocolate cake. The addition of coconut is a wonderful idea. I am looking forward to baking this bounty cake!

  • Holy moly. Just reading this post is warming up my apartment!! Thanks for the wonderful recipe & description.

  • A slice of sinful!! I love salt in baked goods…I am so happy that I have you to quote to my French friends, who say: “never never!” But now I am proof in the red bounty treat of yours!!

  • Alice

    Clotilde, this cake sounds absolutely WONDERFUL! I’m another huge fan of dark chocolate with coconut, and I find that most chocolate bars here tend to combine milk chocolate with coconut, which I don’t like as much…

    I have just a couple questions, because I would LOVE to attempt this recipe this weekend — just out of curiosity, where do you buy your grated coconut here in Paris? Do you get the pre-prepared packs or do you actually buy the fresh coconut kind? Do you think it would still be quite good with the kind bought in a grocery store (Vahiné, for example…), or is there a place you recommend buying it? Also, chocolate-wise, which do you recommend as well? I know people rave about Valhrona, which I imagine is the best, but can a cake like this still be good with chocolate like Nestle dessert chocolate, or am I crazy even considering that?

    Sorry to ask so much… The one part of the recipe I would be really nervous about is the folding of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture; I’m so afraid I would screw that up and that the cake wouldn’t rise properly! But I found the solution to avoid egg separating problems: I had my mom mail me an egg separator from the U.S.; it’s saved me many a headache after I wasted four egg whites when some yolk fell in once… (maybe I’m just clumsy!)

    Thanks so much!

    BTW: I made the slow-roast chicken in the Romertopf yesterday, along with the green beans and mashed potatoes, and it was all scrumptious! Merci infiniment !

  • Alice – I buy my dried grated coconut in bulk at G. Detou (58 rue Tiquetonne in the 2nd), but the one you’ll find at the grocery store will be fine I’m sure.

    As for the chocolate, I also buy it in bulk at the same shop (note: I am not affiliated with them in any way, but with the amount of stuff I buy there, I might look into buying a share of the business). I get either Valrhona or the other brand that they carry (I forget the name) that is equally good but cheaper, but you have my official permission to use baking chocolate (chocolat à pâtisser) from the supermarket — just get the darkest one you can find.

    Finally, regarding the folding of the egg whites, don’t be nervous: doing it in three subsequent passes makes it easier, and if you’re gentle, you’ll do just fine. This is a pretty forgiving recipe, too: if worse comes to worse, your cake will be just a tad more dense that mine, but that’s hardly an earth-shattering catastrophe.

  • 2 years ago for my husband’s birthday, I made him a coconut cake. I looked everywhere for a recipe that pleased me, and was shockingly lacking. If only I had this recipe back then! I has both coconut for him and chocolate for me. It’s so easy too. The hardest part may be finding the unsweetened coconut, which I’ve never seen in a regular grocery store in Florida.

  • Julie – Perhaps you may be able to find unsweetened grated coconut at Asian stores. How sweet is the sweetened coconut you can find? If you wanted to use that, you could simply lower the amount of sugar that is added to the egg whites.

  • This sounds like a glorious cake. I’m going to bookmark this one for my brother’s birthday, since he’s a major fan of the dark chocolate/coconut combo, which I love as well.

    From one Julie to another, unsweetened dessicated coconut can usually be found at health food stores or places like Whole Foods. Failing that, you can mail-order it from the King Arthur baking catalogue, which can also supply you with pre-toasted unsweetened coconut if you wish. This stuff works quite beautifully with no loss of flavor or quality, saves you a step and ensures evenly toasted coconut (having burnt a lot of coconut in my day).

  • Yummy, yummy! I can’t wait to cook this Fondant!!!

  • Un pur péché de gourmandise!

  • I’ve never made gluten-free anything before, but I plan to bake this cake as soon as possible. Coconut and chocolate: You can’t go wrong. Thank you!

  • To Julie: I was able to find unsweetened coconut at my local Whole Foods market (especially around Passover time, because everyone seems to be making macaroons then) but I am sure you would find it in any natural health store.

  • This looks delicious!

  • tw

    So I was looking at the recipe on Sylvie’s blog, and it was quite easy to decipher, except for the bit where it calls for 2CS of milk and 1CS of flour – all the other measurements are in metric weights.

    Pray tell, what exactly is a CS? Merci beaucoup!

  • tw – “CS” is short for “cuillérée à soupe”, which is French for a tablespoon.

  • Alice

    Thanks so much again, Clotilde, for the precise info! I may try to pop down to the rue Tiquetonne on Saturday afternoon after my drawing class, depending on how the day plays out. I’d like to try to make the cake with the best, so I think that calls for a splurge!

    We’ll see how the “folding” goes when I actually go to make the cake, given I’m a novice…*crossing fingers* But I think I’m going to use a loaf pan, because I don’t have a round pan at this point.

  • I am right there with you!! I just re-united with my very best friend and cooking partner in crime, after a year. I just arrived in her Swiss village and we have been cooking up a storm of gluten free yummies!! This recipe seems right up our alley and I will have to try it– especially since I am in the land of chocolate!!

    There is nothing like cooking with a soul sister, aye?

    Thanks for the recipe!!!


  • Veron

    I always wondered why most recipe calls for a tiny amount of salt all the time. I guess it just brings out the flavor like you stated. Thanks for the recipe. I’m a chocolate fiend myself and cannot quite stop baking with chocolate.

  • Thank you for demonstrating to everyone that gluten-free can be delicious!

    I can’t wait to try this out!

  • Those flour-less chocolate cakes are the absolute BEST! And thank you for the link to the wonderful Christophe Felder site. Wonderful post. Merci

  • That is the universal problem with chocolate cakes–they always taste better the second (or even third) day but are inevitably gobbled up on the first!

  • like meat loves salt

    salt definitely makes a huge difference in recipes sweet or savory! just don’t use salted butter! or if you do, regulate the addition of salt elsewhere…

  • I have been looking for a good chocolate recipe lately and this one fits the bill. And having just returned from Paris I am eager for a nice fondant! Merci

  • i think chocolate and coconut make a wonderful pair. thanks for the recipe!

  • Do you know how tragic it is for a diabetic to even come across such delicious blogs ?! I love the smell of dark chocolate and the warm yeasty smell that comes from the cake shops . Alas I can only gaze and lust not eat !!Your blog is superb

  • Wow incredible! And so delicious, I think everything in our life is so related to food, taste and odours of course. It’s part of the ritual of living, the food for the Gods and for the food the Words!

  • Oh, yum. Confirms that life definitely is just biding one’s time between meals!

  • Linnea

    I just made this recipe but when I was measuring out the 50 grams of coconut with my digital scale I noticed that it was much less than 2 cups–more like 3/4 cup. Just thought I’d let you know.

  • Linnea again

    Now I see that the recipe calls for 150 grams! Sorry! My mistake.

  • Writing from my Toronto kitchen where this cake is in the oven right now — birthday cake for my roommate. I used organic flaked coconut and a big bar of Green & Black’s “cooking chocolate” (72% cocoa solids). Couldn’t find the North American version of light whipping cream was so I had to make do with Table Cream (18% Milk Fat vs. 35% for regular Whipping Cream).

  • I love the idea of the thin crust but then moist inside – must try this one and report on my own Chocolate and Beyond site!

  • I just wanted to say that I made this cake for my gluten-intolerant fiancé (it gave me an excuse to make chocolate cake!), and it turned out wonderfully. The puffed soufflé-like top made me feel oh-so-compentent, but most important, it was DELICIOUS. I was going to take a picture for my blog, but it was devoured too quickly.

  • I made this cake this weekend using Ghirardelli bittersweet baking chocolate. My crust was lighter (and perhaps a bitter crispier?) than Clotilde’s photo shows, but it was absolutely delicious.

  • Hi Clotilde!,
    I made this and featured my adapted version on our gluten-free blog. It came out really good dairy-free,gluten-free,sugar-free and chocolate-free. I used honey, carob powder and coconut milk. Thanks again!

  • Paula

    A really intresting gateau, it found its place on my “to bake someday”-list (but the list is lo~ong).^^ I bake only gluten-free, but usually I just use gluten-free flourmixes (easily avaidable in Finland) instead of wheatflour. Anyways, naturally gluten-free cakes are always intresting and good dark chocolate… Thank you for the recipe and for the blog.

  • En effet, c’était super bon et bien fondant ! Une superbe recette que je garde sous le coude :)

  • Ginger Bates

    What would be the combination of milk and heavy cream if one did not have access to “light cream”

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