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Chai Coconut Snacking Cake

Come for the toasted coconut. Stay for the velvet crumb.

Slices on chai coconut snacking cake topped with coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut on a wooden cutting board.

Cold winter afternoons call for cake. Topped with voluptuous swirls of coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut shreds, this chai-spiced snacking cake will brighten even the greyest days.


Chai coconut snacking cake topped with coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut on a wooden cutting board.

If you’re never baked with coconut oil before, it can seem a little counterintuitive at first. While it can be creamed with sugar just like butter, it won’t aerate like butter does. (In fact, you probably won’t notice the batter begin to be fluffy until you whip in the eggs.) Additionally, because it contains more fat than butter (100% vs. the 82% available in most commercial butters in the US), it brings an extra dose of moisture to the cake, much like vegetable or olive oil would. The result is a super rich and tender cake with a plush, close-textured crumb. Basically, it’s the velvet of the cake world.


Slices of chai coconut snacking cake topped with coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut on a wooden cutting board.

Whipped coconut cream is nothing new: vegans have been using it for years. While it’s actually easier to make than straight-up whipped cream, there are a few things to keep in mind. Be sure to use unsweetened coconut cream (as opposed to cream of coconut, which is a completely different thing), and choose a brand with minimal ingredients on the label: that’s usually an indicator that the product is higher quality and will contain more coconut fat to excess liquid. Chill the whole can in the refrigerator overnight before trying to whip the cream, and avoid agitating the can before opening: you want to be able to scoop the solid cream straight off the top, leaving the liquid at the bottom behind. If the cream is cold but seems too thick to whip up, add a bit of the left-behind liquid to loosen it slightly. I suggest adding a teaspoon at a time—you don’t want to end up with soup!


In a nation obsessed with almond joys, toasted sweetened coconut is a largely unsung hero. Baked for only a few minutes on a bare metal sheet tray, the sugars coating the coconut shreds start to caramelize, resulting in gorgeous golden-brown shreds of candied coconut. It brings a simple but beautiful finish to the top of this snacking cake—and an irresistible crunch.


Enjoy!

 

Chai Coconut Snacking Cake

(Serves 9)


Chai coconut snacking cake topped with coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut on a wooden cutting board.

1 c. (200 g.) granulated sugar

½ c. (105 g.) refined coconut oil, room temperature

½ tsp. kosher salt

1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

2 eggs, room temperature

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 ½ c. (180 g.) all-purpose flour

½ c. coconut milk, well stirred, room temperature

1 (14-oz) can coconut cream, chilled

3 tbsp. powdered sugar         

¼ c. sweetened shredded coconut, toasted


Equipment: 8"x 8" metal baking pan, parchment paper


Method

 

Preheat oven to 350°, rack in the middle position. Grease an 8"x 8" metal baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, allowing excess to drape over two of the sides, creating handles for easy removal. 


Chai cake batter in a bowl with a pink spatula.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), combine sugar, coconut oil, and kosher salt. Beat at medium-high speed until fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, 2-3 minutes.


Add cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg, and beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on high after each addition until fully incorporated.

Add baking powder and half of flour and, with a flexible rubber spatula, fold until combined. Fold in coconut milk until incorporated, then fold in remaining flour just until no streaks remain.


Pour batter into prepared pan, using spatula to nudge it into corners and tapping pan lightly against counter to level. Bake until risen, lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely in pan before using parchment handles to remove.


Chai spiced snacking cake topped with coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut beside a plate of toasted coconut.

For the topping, remove solid top chunk of coconut cream from can and transfer to a large bowl. Add powdered sugar. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on high until light and fluffy. If mixture seems too stiff to whip properly, add 1 tablespoon of liquid from the bottom of the coconut cream can to loosen and whip again.


Frost cake, using the back of a spoon or a palette knife to get voluptuous swoops. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and serve immediately.


Chai snacking cake topped with coconut whipped cream and toasted coconut shreds.

Originally posted February 18, 2024.

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