Coconut Mango Layer Cake
Earlier this year, I had some cake motivation, and I wrote a small list of a couple of cakes that I really wanted to make this year. Of course they were all the intense little Milkbar method cakes. My favorite, if you haven’t noticed. They allow you to pack a lot of punch into a small cake. So, I sat down and brainstormed flavors and layers. The first cake to be crossed off the list was the vanilla caramel latte, then the lemon raspberry layer cake was created shortly thereafter. Then, my kids birthdays happened, so their cakes had to be made. Then summer. It was a pretty intense summer (when is it not, really?) and way too darn hot to be in the hot kitchen for long periods of time with the oven on. So, the last flavor combination had to wait. It moved to the top of my to-do list once the kids started school. A few blissful, peaceful days to myself was just what the doctor ordered.
My first attempt with this cake was sadly extremely disappointing. The cake was delish, but the other layers were a mess. I tried to make a mango curd, but it didn’t taste anything like mango. Same thing happened when I tried to make a frosting. The fresh mango taste totally disappeared. So, I ended up throwing it all away and was pretty discouraged that day. So, I waited another two weeks before attempting it again. In the meantime, I brainstormed and thought about what would be best for the layers. Second time around was a complete success. Hallelujah!
Let’s talk about the components of this cake for a minute. So first, there is an amazing, moist coconut cake. Then, the cake is topped/soaked with fresh mango purée. The next layer is mango ice cream. I held my breath as I made it, just hoping the mango flavor wouldn’t disappear as I whisked it into my go-to ice cream base. But it worked! The ice cream is killer. Seriously, I had some left over and I couldn’t wait to eat a bowlful. Anyway, the last interior layer is coconut crumb. Which I could totally eat by the handful. To top the cake I folded fresh mango purée in freshly whipped cream and slathered it over the top cake layer. I toasted unsweetened shredded coconut, sprinkled it over the top, then attempted fresh mango flowers. They weren’t perfect, for sure, but the cake certainly was. As always, the cake process takes a while, but you can do it over a few days if that makes it easier. I’d say it’s well worth the effort. I barely wanted to share this cake. I was beyond excited to have a slice after lunch all week. Great flavors for any time of the year, but I say it’s a great way to exit summer with a bang!
Coconut Mango Layer Cake
Yield: 1 triple layer 6-inch cake
For the mango ice cream
2 cups whole milk, divided
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large mangoes, peeled, sliced and puréed until smooth
For the coconut cake
165 grams (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
85 grams (6 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
175 ml (3/4 cup) canned coconut milk, well shaken
40 grams (1/2 cup) shredded unsweetened coconut
For the coconut crumb
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
25 grams (1 1/2 Tablespoons) light brown sugar
90 grams (3/4 cup) cake flour
2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) baking powder
2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
10 grams (2 Tablespoons) shredded unsweetened coconut
57 grams (1/4 cup) butter, melted
6 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) coconut extract
For the mango soak
1 large mango peeled and puréed until smooth
For the whipped cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
Splash of vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons of mango purée taken from mango soak
For the finishing touches
unsweetened large shredded coconut, toasted
fresh mango slices
To make the ice cream, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a small bowl to create a slurry. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and salt together until smooth.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla extract. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Let boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Place the saucepan back over the heat and bring to a boil again over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a heatproof spatula until slightly thickened, about 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
Whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until completely smooth, then whisk in the mango purée. Cover and place in the refrigerator until completely cool, several hours or overnight. Don't churn the ice cream until you are ready to assemble the cake.
To make the cake, heat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour the edges of a quarter sheet pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and extracts until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in half of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until incorporated. A dd in the coconut milk and mix on low speed, mixing just until combined. Add in the remaining half of the dry ingredients as well as the shredded coconut and mix on low speed just until the batter is evenly combined.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Bake 20-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few clinging crumbs. Let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge and flipping the cake carefully out onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely before proceeding, covering if needed to prevent from drying out.
To make the coconut crumb, heat the oven to 300ºF. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and shredded coconut. Mix on low speed until combined. Pour in the melted butter, vanilla and coconut extracts, and mix until the dry ingredients start to form small clusters. Spread the clusters on the prepared baking sheet. Baking for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. Remove from the oven. The crumbs will dry and harden as they cool. Cool completely before using.
When you are ready to assemble the cake, churn the ice cream.
To assemble the cake*, invert the cake from the sheet pan onto a work surface. Use a 6-inch cake ring to cut out 2 circles from the cake (these will be the top two layers). Wipe off the cake ring and place it in the center of a small sheet pan lined with parchment paper or silpat. Use a strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. Use scraps from the leftover cake to place in the ring and press together in a flat, even layer.
Spread about half of the puréed mango over the cake in an even layer for the mango soak. Spread about 1/2-3/4 cup of the mango ice cream over the mango soak in an even layer. Then, sprinkle half of the coconut crumb over the ice cream, gently pressing down to adhere. Gently tuck a second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top 1/4-inch of the first strip of acetate. Set a cake round on top of the coconut crumb , and repeat the layering process once more of the mango soak (make sure you’ve removed the 2 tablespoons neccesary for the whipped cream), mango ice cream and remaining coconut crumb.
Place the remaining cake layer onto top of the coconut crumb. To finish, make the whipped cream. Pour the heavy cream and vanilla extract into a small bowl. Whip with a hand mixer or stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the reserved 2 tablespoons of the mango purée into the whipped cream. Spread the whipped cream over the top cake layer. Transfer the assembled cake to the freezer and let chill and set overnight.
At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve, remove the pan from the freezer, pop the cake out of the cake ring, and peel away the acetate layers. Transfer to a cake platter and place back in the freezer. When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle the top with the toasted shredded coconut and decorate with fresh mango slices. Slice and serve immediately. Store any leftovers covered in the freezer for several weeks.
*If you would like a visual on how to assemble the cake, check out this post here.