Chocolate Coconut Cake w/ Coconut Buttercream for Stella’s Birthday

May 2013

Do you remember your fourth birthday? I bet I would if the appropriate party photo jogged my memory (or in the least, some reconstructed version of a memory)… was that the year of the bunny cake, or maybe it was the Cabbage Patch kid cake?

Coconut Buttercream Layer

When you’re that age, birthdays are especially epic (to be fair, I still get pretty excited about my birthday). Even in between birthdays, you’re busy adding quarter and half years to your age to validate how big you are!

Stella Cake Top View

When my bosses asked me to make a birthday cake for their daughter Stella’s fourth birthday, I took the task pretty seriously. I wanted to make her a birthday cake that would leave an impression on her little girl memory.

Stella Flags

Stella’s a May lady, so the theme for her shindig was Cinco de Mayo. My first instinct for a Cinco de Mayo cake would be a drenching of rum (like this tres leches cake), but this wasn’t her twenty-first birthday, so there was more brainstorming to be stormed.

Stella Cake Closeups

Instead of boozing a four-year-old’s party, I channeled the produce of peninsular Mexico- coconut and a touch of mango. There were cinco layers of cake, symbolic of the theme, a little cupcake on top by birthday girl request (and for good luck) and a mango rosette for a pop of color!

Stella Bday Cake

The recipe below is for two 9-inch cake layers. If you want to make your own special, layered birthday cake, double the recipe below and use a 9-inch, 7-inch and 5-inch pan. 

Chocolate Coconut Cake with Coconut Buttercream
Makes two 9-inch layers


1/2 cup organic semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water

1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup organic, unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups pure cane sugar

2 large organic eggs

1 cup organic coconut milk


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch springform pans with butter.

Combine the chocolate chips and cocoa in a mixing bowl with the hot water. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

In a bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In another large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar until combined. Add eggs, one at a time until thickened slightly and lighter in color (about 3 minutes).

Slowly add the coconut milk to the egg mixture, and then the melted chocolate, beating until well combined.

Add flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.

Divide batter between the two pans, and bake in middle of oven until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.

Cool cake completely before frosting.

Coconut Buttercream


3/4 cup butter
2-3 cups organic powdered sugar
3/4 cup organic coconut milk

unsweetened coconut flakes, to taste


Use a mixer to combine butter and powdered sugar.

Add coconut milk a little at a time. Add more powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.

Top with unsweetened coconut flakes to your liking.

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