De Bon Goût—Craving the Halekulani’s Coconut Cake!

  • 19th July 2013

If you are headed to Oahu anytime soon a pop-in to the Halekulani for their signature coconut cake is a must!  If you are lucky it will be served up along with a full rainbow over the ocean.


If Oahu is not on the horizon, no worries, you can still have your cake and eat it too!  The recipe follows below…



Coconut Cream Cake with Raspberry Coulis.

The signature coconut cake with raspberry coulis.



Coconut Cake Halekulani

As soon as it is done you will cut right in!

View of Diamond Head from the Halekulani Hotel

View of Diamond Head from the Halekulani Hotel


Halekulani Coconut Cream Cake

Plated and pretty

Plumeria at the Halekulani

Plumeria scent the air at the Halekulani.


Since the cake is really a signature of the hotel, we are going to pepper the recipe post with pictures on and around Oahu’s Halekulani hotel.  (Then you can dream of ocean sprays and slack key guitar while you are savoring the decadent cream)


This recipe comes by way of one of our favorite books:  The Gourmet Cook Book edited by Ruth Reichl


Coconut Cake with Raspberry Coulis


For the cake:

1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising, sift before measuring)

1/3 cup plus 7 tablespoons sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup water

1 large egg

4 large egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartar



Coconut cake baking

Cake baking

The Halekulani Pool

The Halekulani Pool




For the Pastry Cream

1 1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise

1/3 cup plus 5 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 large egg yolks

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1 1/4 cups very cold heavy cream



One cup coconut

One cup coconut



For Raspberry Coulis

2 cups raspberries

1 cup sugar


For Topping

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Approx. 30 raspberries for decoration

A few sprigs of mint for decoration

(Alternatively, you can thinly slice some strawberries and arrange them decoratively atop the cake)



Special Equipment

A 9-to-9 1/2 inch springform pan



Cake all done and ready to slice.

Cake all done and ready to slice into layers.

Assembled, iced and ready to slice and eat.

Assembled, iced and ready to slice and eat.




Make the Cake:

Put in a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together cake flour, 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Whisk together oil, water and egg in another bowl, then add to flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until they barely hold soft peaks.  Beat in remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and continue beating until meringue holds stiff peaks.

Fold one third of meringue into batter to lighten it, then gently but thoroughly fold in remaining meringue.

Pour batter into ungreased  springform pan.  Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.  Run a thin knife around edge of pan, then cool cake for 5 minutes.  Remove side of pan and invert cake onto a rack.  Gently remove bottom of pan and let cake cool completely.


Meanwhile make the pastry cream.



Pastry cream before mixing

Pastry cream before mixing.


Bring milk and salt just to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan over moderately high heat.  Remove from heat and scrape seeds from vanilla bean into milk and discard pod.

Whisk together 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, and yolks in a medium bowl (mixture will be very stiff).  Whisk in one third of hot milk and whisk until smooth.  Whisk yolk mixture into hot milk and saucepan, bring to a boil over moderate heat, and boil, whisking, for 1 minute.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in coconut.  Cover surface with wax paper and cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Beat heavy cream with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar with cleaned beaters until it holds stiff peaks.  Fold 1 1/2 cups whipped cream into pastry cream; cover and refrigerate.  Cover remaining whipped cream and refrigerate.



Pastry cream mixed with whipped cream.

Pastry cream mixed with whipped cream.

Rainbow from the Halekulani restaurant.

Rainbow from the Halekulani restaurant.




Make the Coulis:

Combine raspberries and sugar in a blender and purée until smooth.  Force through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on solids.  Discard solids.



View from hotel room window.

View from hotel room window.



Assemble the Cake:

Cut cake horizontally into 3 layers with a serrated knife.  Place bottom layer cut side up on a cake stand or platter.  Spread with half of pastry cream and top with middle layer of the cake.  Spread with remaining pastry cream and top with the third cake layer, cut side down.  Spread reserved whipped cream on top and sides of cake.  Gently press coconut onto the tops and sides.


Cake cut into three layers.

Cake cut into three layers.

First layer with pastry cream.

First layer with pastry cream.


Cake iced.

Cake iced.

Sprinkle cake with coconut add fresh raspberries.

Sprinkle cake with coconut add fresh raspberries.



Add a flourish of fresh mint in the center of the cake.  Serve cake with coulis.


Plated and pretty again.

Ready to eat.



Cook’s Notes:

—The cake layers can be made up to 1 day ahead and kept, well wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature.  They can also be frozen, wrapped in plastic and foil, for up to 1 week.  (Thaw, still wrapped in refrigerator for 1 day)

—The pastry cream, without whipped cream, can be refrigerated for up to 2 days

—The raspberry coulis can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated covered

—The cake can be assembled up to 6 hours before serving and refrigerated.



Rainbow over the Halekulani beach.

Rainbow over the Halekulani beach.



Hibiscus on property.

Hibiscus on property.

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