MB Manion Morell

Coconut Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

MB Manion Morell
Coconut Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Oh my word… this amazing coconut snack cake.  A breezy little gift from the tropics in our snowy corner of the world.

Let me tell you how it came to grace our table this weekend.

Have you ever picked out the perfect gift for someone else, but actually wanted the keep if for yourself?  (You know you have…)

In early December, I discovered the book about Eric Werner and Mya Henry, who (quite sensibly) ran away from their restaurant careers in New York City to build a nearly open-air restaurant on the edge of the jungle in Tulum, Mexico.  (I had to look it up – Tulum is in the Yucatan.  You’re welcome.)

I decided my brother-the-chef needed a copy of this book for Christmas.  I really, really wanted a copy for myself, but restrained myself from picking up that second copy.  Barely.

During the family gift exchange, I noted the size of his gift to me was suspiciously similar to my gift to him. Culinary geeks that we are, we often give each other cookbooks, so I had a glimmer of hope. Over years of such exchanges, we’ve never given each other the same one.  Not so this year.  We both found ourselves with a copy of this stunning Hartwood Cookbook. Great minds…

The book has been on my bedside table since Christmas, providing welcome escape to the flavors of the Yucatan through intriguing recipes with unknown (to me) ingredients and gorgeous photography.  Even more fascinating are the stories of supplying and operating a restaurant with limited power in the jungle… a restaurant that has become one of the best-regarded on the planet.

I just reached the dessert section this weekend.  (So unlike me… I usually begin with desserts). More predictable: I want to try them all.  Their two-layer coconut cake looked like a great place to begin.  At Hartwood, the cakes are baked in a wood-burning oven… but here in the suburbs, I had to settle for a gas-powered model.  Pity.

I tweaked and simplified the original Hartwood version quite a bit… their version is a layer cake – I was in the mood for something a bit smaller the other night.   I created a darling little coconut snacking cake that comes together in a snap… coconut cream and a bit of rum brighten the cake… More coconut cream, rum and lime are whipped into a cream cheese frosting. Toasted coconut adds a bit of welcome crunch and a lovely decorative touch.

While running away to visit the Hartwood restaurant seems a bit impractical at the moment, I’ll happily keep working through this treasure of a cookbook to bring glimmers of the Yucatan to our world.

A few things I’m crushing on at the moment:

I read the extraordinary When Breath Becomes Air in a day last weekend.  And then immediately handed it to a friend.  Add it to your must-read list. Really.

Discovered the Village Sweet Bakery in Arlington this weekend… my kind of baked goods: creative and rustic and absolutely delicious.  I’m hooked.

After reading this article, just had to try this Mississippi Roast for our Sunday dinner. We had a party of 10 for dinner… (Much of it that 20-something demographic I love to feed)… plates wiped clean.  After second helpings. Guess it’s a keeper.

Happy Tuesday all!



Coconut Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Inspired by a recipe in the Hartwood cookbook

Serves: 8-10


The cake:

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar (I use organic)
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup cream of coconut
  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt (I used 2% milkfat)
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1½ cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

The frosting

  • One 8-oz package cream cheese
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cream of coconut
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • ¾ cup flaked coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
  3. In the bowl of a standard mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time.
  5. When all the eggs are mixed into the batter, beat on high speed for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the cream of coconut, greek yogurt, and rum, and mix until fully combined.
  7. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  8. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  10. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the top of the cake is lightly browned, and a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  11. While the cake is baking, toss the flaked coconut onto a pie tin in an even layer. Place it on the top shelf and toast it until lightly browned - about 15-20 minutes.

For the frosting

  1. Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, cream of coconut, rum, and lime juice in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the frosting until it is light and fluffy.

Assemble the cake:

  1. Once the cake is cooled, frost the top of the cake, and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.