A crunchy-chewy frosting made with coconut and pecans spread between layers of chocolate cake is plenty intense on its own. But the The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook takes things a step further by using coconut milk in the frosting, and toasting the toppings before folding them in. Simple tricks that really boost the flavor.
For a truly showstopping presentation, slice each layer of cake in half lengthwise, and frost in between, for a 6-layer cake like the one pictured. If you choose to double the layers, double the frosting.
Tips: First, the frosting. It's toothsome and rich, thanks to toasted coconuts and pecans, while a base of coconut milk smooths everything out. But without that toasty bite, your frosting will fall flat.
The simplest, quickest way to brown sweetened coconut is on the stove: Heat an ungreased (preferably nonstick) skillet over medium heat. Add coconut, and toss in the pan until it turns a light golden brown. Do the same to the chopped pecans. In both cases, use your nose as well as your eyes: it should smell browned, not burnt.
As for the cake, the cocoa powder you use matters. A dutched powder like Valrhona imparts a darker, more intense chocolate flavor. Non dutch-processed powder like Guittard is lighter. It all depends on your preference. And sift, don't simply whisk, your flours and powders. That way you can be sure the cocoa powder, flour, and leavener are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Tweaks: The recipe doesn't include weights, which is frustrating. So, to prevent you from having to measure out seven level tablespoons of cocoa powder, here are some conversions*:
7 tablespoons cocoa powder = 1.8 ounces
3/4 cup flour (+ 2 tbsp) = 3.5 ounces (+ 2 tbsp)
1 cup sugar (+ 1 tbsp) = 7 ounces (+ 1 tbsp)
Note: weights for flour and sugar are general, commonly accepted weights; weight for cocoa powder was a unique calculation.
As always with our Bake the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook to give away.