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Valentine’s Day Chocolate and Coconut Layer Cake (Bolo Prestigío para o Dia dos Namorados)



I am not ashamed to say out loud that baking is not my forte in the kitchen. So for that reason, when I decide to get some baking done, I usually use a recipe from a 100% trustworthy source – usually a family member or a friend. This Chocolate and Coconut Layer Cake is a tried and true recipe from my Mom’s kitchen. It is a decadent, rich and delicious cake that my mom has made countless times for the last 20 years, especially for our birthday parties. Since it so rich and decadent, I decided to share it as my dessert suggestion for Valentine’s Day. Of course, I had to add a little color to make it suitable for the occasion (I thought that bright pink would be perfect)! Another great thing about this cake is that it just looks complicated, but it is not! The directions are easy!! The color combination sets the tone and the decorative heart on top took me only 2 minutes to make with a heart-shaped cookie cutter (see the pictures). Well, with all that extra time on your hands you can go get your nails done to look great for your Valentine. Enjoy!


Serves 10 

Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut (see Cook’s Notes)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 8 drops red food coloring (see Cook’s Notes)

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Dough Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To a bowl of a standing mixer, add eggs, butter and sugar. Mix on medium speed until combined. Slowly add milk, alternating with small batches of cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary and keep mixing until well incorporated.

Spray a 9-inch cake pan with butter. Transfer dough to cake pan and bake 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center turns out clean.

Remove cake from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Filling Directions:

Add sugar and water to a sauce pan set over medium heat. Cook stirring occasionally until a light syrup is formed; 4 to 5 minutes. Add coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Cook stirring constantly until mixture is slightly thickened; 2 to 3 minutes. Filling must be very moist, so do not overcook. Remove from heat and add food coloring, stirring well until color becomes uniform. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Frosting Directions:

In a sauce pan set over medium-low heat, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow cooling.


Using a large serrated knife, slice cake into 4 layers, horizontally. If you find difficult to slice the cake into 4 layers without breaking, slice into 3 layers.

Divide filling into 3 parts (2 parts if you are doing 3 layers), saving ¼ cup for the decorative heart that will go on top.

Place a cake layer on a large cake plate and spread with ¼ of filling. Top with a second layer of cake and spread another ¼ of filling. Repeat process for all remaining layers. Spread the frosting, starting on the sides of the cake and then working on the top, until smooth.

Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, make a decorative heart on top: lightly press the cookie cutter on the center of cake and spread the remaining coconut filling (see pictures below). Carefully remove cookie cutter and clean any excess of coconut that might have accumulated to the sides. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours before serving.



Cook’s Notes:

I like to use Baker’s Angel shredded coconut in this recipe because it is very moist. If using fresh shredded coconut (which is ideal) use an extra ½ cup of sugar in the filling.

This cake is a recipe from my mom’s kitchen. She has been baking this delight for at least 20 years, but she doesn’t use the red food coloring. I decided to add the red coloring (sorry Mamãe) to set the mood for Valentine’s Day. I wanted a bright pink and dark brown combination of colors, so I used 8 drop of RED coloring. If you want to achieve a lighter pink, or a deeper red, adjust the amount of drops accordingly. Play with it and have fun!


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