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Dulce de Leche and Coconut Layer Cake



This “white canvas” cake has decadent layers of dulce de leche and coconut custard. The meringue that gives it an all white look is flavored with fresh lime and it breaks the richness of the fillings beautifully. The other great thing about it is that it can be decorated to fit any party theme! Check out the pictures of the cute party for my son’s third birthday and how easily this cake became a “construction site” cake! It was so much fun!

Serves 20

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups plus 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dulce de leche (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened butter
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, preferably fresh

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Directions for Cake:

Preheat oven to 350degrees F.

Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the 1 ½ cups of sugar at medium speed until fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat until smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients and milk, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until mixture is smooth.

Add egg whites to a clean mixing bowl. Using a hand electric mixer fitted with clean beaters, beat egg whites at high speed, until soft picks form, about 4 minutes. Gradually add remaining 8 tablespoons sugar and beat until glossy. Gently fold egg whites into the batter, being careful not to over mix.

Scrape batter into prepared pans. Bake in the center of oven for 40 minutes, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer cakes to rack and allow cooling slightly. Run the tip of knife around edges and invert the cakes onto the rack to cool completely. Using a serrated knife, split each layer horizontally in half.

Direction for Coconut Custard Filling:

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add butter, egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and coconut flakes. Stir constantly until mixture starts boiling slightly. Turn heat to medium-low and keep stirring until the custard thickens slightly. Custard is ready when the bottom of pan starts to become visible while stirring and mixture is boiling vigorously, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and allow cooling completely.

Directions for Lime Meringue Frosting:

In a clean bowl of a standing electric mixer, using clean beaters, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. In a medium sauce pan, bring the sugar and water to a boil over high heat until dissolved. Remove from heat and add the lime juice. With the mixer at medium speed, carefully drizzle the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites. Turn speed to high and beat until fluffy and slightly warm to touch.


Place a cake layer on a large cake plate and top with 1 cup of dulce de leche. Top with a second layer of cake and spread coconut custard over. Top with a third cake layer and spread remaining cup of dulce the leche. Finish with fouth layer of cake. Spread the frosting all over the cake, swirling decoratively. Let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving, but preferably overnight.

This picture is not very neat, but at this point there were about 17 kids running around me!

Cook’s Notes:

Dulce de leche is South American style caramel and it can be found at international grocery stores, or at large grocery stores (usually next to the sweetened condensed milk shelf). It is also possible to make dulce the leche at home: submerge 2 unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk in a large, deep pot of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat for 2 hours, adding water as needed to keep the cans completely submerged. Carefully remove cans and let cool completely before opening.

The layers of dulce de leche and coconut can also be switched to taste. It is possible to make two layers of coconut custard and one layer of dulce de leche; just switch the amount of ingredients accordingly.

Birthday and wedding cakes in Brazil (and in South America in general) are usually layered with at least 2 different kinds of fillings. Many times, the different fillings can be up to five or six! Fruits, nuts, different flavored custards are commonly used in these traditional layered cakes.

To balance the richness of the dulce de leche and the coconut custard, I used a lime meringue as the topping, which adds a tangy and fresh taste to this decadent cake. The shiny meringue also gives a “white canvas” look to this cake, making it compatible to any kind of party. The decorations can be added accordingly the party theme. In this case, I made it for my son’s 3 year old birthday party, so the cake easily became a “construction site” kind of cake once I added the stickers and banners. He loved it! My Dulce de Leche and Coconut Layer Cake looks really pretty and it is fairly easy and inexpensive to make, which are also plusses. I am often invited to parties where the beautiful (and expensive) cake did not taste that great, but it had been shaped and decorated in a much elaborated fashion to follow a certain party theme. Many times, to achieve those elaborate levels of decorations, the cake must be somewhat dry. Then I ask, what is the point?

It was really easy to decorate the cake and to turn it into a "construction site" cake!

Sebastian could not resist...

Yummm! The merigue is good!!!!!

The table was decorated with trucks and tractor and the cake just became part of it all!

Sebastian could not be any happier!!! Happy Birthday to my big boy!!!

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