Thursday, September 1, 2016

Nana McKee's Chocolate Cake (with fluffy coconut frosting)

Have you seen Land O’Lakes, Inc.'s tagline, Add a Little Good™? I just love how it not only applies to butter and cheese, but encourages all of us to #addalittlegood in our lives everyday.

Nana McKee's Chocolate Cake (with fluffy coconut frosting)
*this post is sponsored by Land O'Lakes.

I have to share this sweet idea with you. Johanna, the daughter of friends of ours, and a good friend of Jack's, was going on a pilgrimage this summer to Poland for World Youth Day. In order to help raise funds for the trip, she sold cakes! Not just any cakes, though, she offered three cake choices from her grandmother's recipes.

We ordered the lemon cake...and it was dreamy.

Not only was this such a clever fundraiser, but I loved that Johanna was keeping those recipes going and honoring her grandmother at the same time.

Nana McKee's Chocolate Cake (with fluffy coconut frosting)
This, of course, got me thinking about my grandmothers and their recipes. I never remember baking with my Nana McKee, but I remember that every time we came for a visit, there were two pies waiting for us - always a chocolate pie and either a lemon meringue or coconut cream.

Nana McKee's Chocolate Cake (with fluffy coconut frosting)
I hunted through my recipe boxes and talked to my sister. The only dessert recipe we have from Nana McKee was one my sister wrote about in elementary school, a chocolate cake. There's not even a frosting recipe to go with it.

Our mom died years before our grandmother, so it's frustrating sometimes to not be able to pick up the phone to ask something simple like, "Did Nana bake a lot when you were growing up? What were your favorites?"

That's why I think Johanna's idea is so brilliant and so good. While her grandmothers are still here, she's keeping the tradition going, having those conversations, and sharing these family desserts with friends.

Nana McKee's Chocolate Cake (with fluffy coconut frosting)
I decided I needed to make Nana McKee's chocolate cake. Remember I said that there wasn't a frosting recipe to go with it? Well, I know my Nana also made German Chocolate cake (using the recipe from the box of chocolate), so in that spirit, I made a fluffy coconut frosting to go with it.

Nana McKee's Chocolate Cake (with fluffy coconut frosting)
The cake is soft and moist; it pairs beautifully with the coconut frosting, but would work with chocolate, vanilla, or just about any flavor.

Nana McKee's Chocolate Cake (with fluffy coconut frosting)
There's butter in both the cake and the frosting...unsalted in the cake and salted in the frosting. Instead of milk or cream, the frosting is make with cream of coconut. You can find it with the drink mixers. It's thick and luscious; don't substitute coconut milk.

The cake recipe is exactly from Nana. I made a couple of tweaks to the method.

Nana McKee's Chocolate Cake (with fluffy coconut frosting)
print recipe photo printrecipe.jpg
Nana McKee's Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Coconut Frosting
(makes one 2-layer cake)

for the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup natural cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used kosher)
3/4 cup unsalted Land O Lakes® Butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup water

for the frosting:
1 cup Land O Lakes® Butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
2 pounds powdered sugar
1/2 cup cream of coconut
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 1/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Butter two 8" round cake pans. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of each pan. Place in the pans and butter the parchment. Mix some flour and cocoa together and dust the bottom and sides of the pans. Shake out excess and set aside.

Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the water, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat just until combined.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the tops bounce back when lightly pressed or a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and set on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cakes are cool, make the frosting. Cream the butter and shortening until combined. Slowly beat in half of the powdered sugar. Beat in the cream of coconut and the coconut extract. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Once combined, increase mixer speed to medium and beat until fluffy. (Add more cream of coconut or powdered sugar if needed to adjust consistency.)

To assemble, place one cake layer on a plate. Frost the top with one cup of the frosting. Top with 1/2 cup shredded coconut. Place remaining layer on top. Because the cake is so soft, this is a good place to use a crumb coat. Frost the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting. You might see some crumbs from the cake, that's ok. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Once set, remove from the refrigerator and frost the cake with a thicker layer. The crumb coat will keep the cake crumbs out of the outer layer of frosting. Top the cake with 3/4 cup shredded coconut.

Nana McKee's Chocolate Cake (with fluffy coconut frosting)

I'd love, love, love to hear your memories of your grandmothers' recipes in the comments.

Let's challenge ourselves to make and share these recipes with our families and friends. I'm going to go through my mom's recipe box and start making them more often. ♥

Nana McKee's Chocolate Cake (with fluffy coconut frosting)


  1. This looks delicious - great shots!!


  2. Bridget this cake looks SOOO yummy!!! Thank you for sharing! :)

  3. What I remember from my grandma is her wonderful, fluffy dinner rolls. I have her original recipe, but I've been too chicken to try making them. Maybe someday.

  4. Love this post. Nana would have loved that cake! She was such a cool lady. I wonder what color of suit she is wearing in heaven...

  5. My granny always made a chocolate meringue pie & a lemon meringue pie when we visited.

  6. My grandmother made open faced apple pie to die for. She always used Yellow Transparent apples from a tree on the farm, which are an old heirloom-type apple nearly impossible to find nowadays.

  7. It does look delicious and I am still charmed by the young lady selling cakes..she had to put an effort:)A big one..and she honored her nana♥
    I wish I could have picked up the phne too Bridget all these years later.

  8. What a darling story, Bridget. And the cake looks incredible!

  9. This is such a good idea - non of my grandmothers are alive and I don't know if they baked a lot or not - I don't think they did on my dad's side but I know they baked some on my mom's side - they also made all kinds of ethnic foods that I can't get my hands on and would love to try. I totally would have bought that lemon cake too - looks delish. Thanks for sharing the recipe for your Nana's Chocolate cake!

  10. I love this idea, and I also think your chocolate cake sounds delicious. I've also been looking for a wonderful lemon cake recipe for a long time. Would Johanna share her family's recipe?


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