Brazilian Coconut Cake (Bolo de Coco)

This layer cake is filled with coconut cream and frosted with a fluffy meringue icing. It’s perfect for birthdays and other celebrations.

Serves: 10Hands-on: 45 minutesTotal: 1 hour 45 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 10


  • 1 store-bought white cake mix, prepared according to package directions
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1⁄2 cups sugar, divided
  • 4 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1⁄4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk, divided
  • 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes, divided
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
  • 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
  • 1⁄3 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. corn syrup


  • Divide cake batter between 2 greased 9-inch cake pans and bake according to package directions.
  • Place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and whisk until pale yellow and creamy.
  • Place 1⁄2 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk and 1 cup coconut milk in a large saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens.
  • Gradually stir half of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks. Add egg mixture back to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup coconut flakes and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  • Mix together the remaining coconut milk, cream, and remaining teaspoon vanilla. Poke cake layers with a wooden skewer, and brush milk mixture over the 2 cake layers, letting it soak in.
  • Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer. Place remaining 1 cup sugar, 1⁄3 cup water, and corn syrup in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. When the syrup reaches 238°F, turn on the mixer to beat the egg whites. When the syrup reaches 244°F, remove from heat. Gradually add syrup to the egg whites (egg whites should form soft peaks before adding syrup). Beat until stiff peaks form and meringue cools slightly.
  • Place one cake layer on serving plate. Spread coconut cream over the cake layer and top with the second layer. Frost tops and side of cake with meringue.
  • Sprinkle remaining coconut flakes over cake and serve.