This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclaimer.
This delicious Chocolate Coconut Cake is your favorite chocolate cake recipe topped with a creamy coconut buttercream, and of course plenty of shredded coconut. The best of both worlds!
The chocolate-coconut flavor combination really shines in this Chocolate Coconut Cake!
This cake was inspired by a few recipes on my site -- basically a combination of my Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake, Coconut Cookies, Vegan Coconut Cake, and my go-to Vegan Birthday Cake. And no, you absolutely cannot tell this cake is vegan.
I wanted to create a moist chocolate cake recipe, but with the addition of coconut because coconut is makes everything taste better, and this cake is just that!
- This cake is accidentally vegan, but you'd never know it!
- Made without eggs, and the icing can easily be made with dairy-free butter if you'd like.
- A moist chocolate cake that you'll want to serve your guests for dessert.
Flour - I used all purpose flour, and that's the only kind of flour I tested this recipe with. If you want to make it gluten free, I recommend using gluten free 1:1 all purpose flour.
Sugar - Cane sugar/granulated sugar; if you want it to be less sweet, try using coconut sugar instead.
Cocoa powder - Dutch process cocoa is the move if you want this cake to be extra decadent. Truthfully, I used regular unsweetened cocoa powder because that's what was in my pantry, and the cake was still quite good, so either one is fine.
Milk - Any kind, but NOT canned coconut milk; otherwise, the texture won't be correct. I typically use almond milk or oat milk in my cake recipes.
Brewed coffee - This is essential if you don't want a dry cake. Plus, the coffee helps to enhance the chocolate flavor. Just make sure the coffee is at room temperature before using it.
Avocado oil - You have a few options when it comes to baking with oil. I used avocado oil because it's healthier and neutral-tasting. Other good options are canola oil or coconut oil that's been melted and cooled to room temperature.
Applesauce - This cake is made without eggs, so applesauce is needed to get the dry-to-wet ingredient ratio correct.
Coconut extract - This is only used in the icing, and a little bit goes a long way. I suggest starting with a small amount, doing a quick taste test and adding more if you'd like.
Shredded coconut - I used sweetened coconut flakes because they're more delicious and have a stronger coconut flavor, but unsweetened coconut is good too!
Step 1: Mix dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
Step 2: Whisk wet ingredients and combine. In a separate large bowl, whisk the milk, coffee, oil, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract together. Then, pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix with a rubber spatula until combined, being careful not to over-mix.
Step 3: Bake. Pour the batter into two greased and lined 8-inch round cake pans. Bake the cakes in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before carefully inverting them onto a wire rack. Allow them to cool completely before adding the frosting.
Step 4: Make the coconut buttercream. With an electric mixer, whisk the butter, vanilla extract and coconut extract together. Then, add the powdered sugar and stir, then add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time (as needed) until the icing is smooth. Do a quick taste test and add more coconut extract if you'd like.
Step 5: Assemble. Add a dollop of icing on top of one cake then spread it around, then add the second cake on top and continue icing until the cake is coated. Use your hands to press the shredded coconut into the tops and sides of the cake. Slice and enjoy!
Tips and tricks
Using a different size cake pan: This recipe calls for two 8-inch round pans. If you're looking for an alternative, you can use two 9-inch round pans OR a 9x13 rectangle pan.
Prevent your cake from sticking to the pan: I always line my cake pans with parchment paper before adding the cake batter to prevent them from sticking. To do this, you can either buy parchment rounds, or simply trace your cake pans on parchment paper, then cut out the circles and place them on the bottom of your pans.
Avoid a dense cake: Be sure not to over-mix the batter, which can sometimes create a dense cake. To do so, mix the wet and dry ingredients together just until the flour disappears. Other than that, this cake should not be dense because of the use of applesauce and coffee, which help keep the cake nice and moist.
Room temperature: Wrap your cake tightly in plastic wrap, then store it at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Refrigerator: Or, refrigerate the cake for up to a week.
Freezer: Cut the cake into slices, then tightly wrap leftovers in foil and store in a freezer-safe bag or container.
You can read more about the best way to store cake here.
More chocolate recipes
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Chocolate Coconut Cake
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups cane sugar
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 3 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups almond milk or milk of choice
- 1 cup applesauce
- ½ cup brewed coffee cooled to room temperature
- ½ cup avocado oil or other neutral-tasting oil
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350° and line two round 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. If you haven't already, you should brew the coffee and allow it to come to room temperature.
- In a medium bowl, stir the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk the milk, coffee, applesauce, avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla together. Then, pour the dry ingredients into the wet and gently fold together with a rubber spatula, being careful not to over-mix.
- Pour the batter into the cake pans, then place the cakes in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully invert them onto a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before icing.
- For the icing: cream the butter, vanilla, coconut extract, and milk together in a bowl, then add the powdered sugar and continue mixing until smooth. You may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of additional milk if the icing seems too dry.
- Assemble the cake: place a large dollop of icing on top of one of the cakes and spread it all around, then place the second cake on top. Add all of the icing on the tops and sides of the cake, then use your hands to press the shredded coconut on the tops and sides of the cake. Slice and enjoy!