Coconut cream cake, sometimes also known as coconut poke cake, falls into that “time to treat myself” category. Using a cake mix as the base (keeping it super simple) then filling it with condensed milk and cream of coconut then topped off with whipped cream. Sweet, and triple creamy!
Call it the cream of the crop of coconut cakes.
Coconut poke cake might be a “box cake” recipe, but it is completely out of the box how it elevates a simple pre-mixed cake mix. If you want more diet friendly cake then I suggest my skinny cake recipe ideas.
How to make coconut cream cake
Coconut cream cake starts with a store bought white pre-mixed cake mix. Go with a yellow cake if that is what you have in the cupboard. I just like how the white cake mix goes with the white on white color scheme of the coconut cream and the whipped cream.
The different shades of white make it look like something you would see at a wedding. You know the cake I am talking about. The cake they spent a ton of money on wedding cake. One big difference, people actually eat your coconut poke cake rather than making up excuses about their diets or being to full like they do at the wedding.
What do I do next?
When the cake has cooled and set, then you poke holes in it and pour in the coconut cream and condensed milk mixture. Let it set up in the fridge then add the whipped topping when you are ready to serve it.
Coconut cream or coconut milk or cream of coconut?
If you went out for coconut cream and ended up with coconut milk or cream of coconut and felt like a goofball, then you are not alone. You won’t be the first and you certainly won’t be the last. I know the difference. Yet I still have to look three times to make sure I got coconut cream and not cream of coconut before I check out.
Yes, actually, there is a difference, a huge difference.
- Coconut cream is made by boiling one part water to four parts coconut meat, then simmering it. The stuff that rises to the top when it is cooled is “coconut cream”.
- Coconut milk is typical of Thai coconut curry dishes. Coconut milk is much thinner in consistency. It is made from equal parts coconut meat and water boiled together then strained. So it is much more liquid and less thick and creamy.
- Cream of coconut is the same as coconut cream, but…. It has a bunch of sugar added to it. This is the coconut product that is used in drinks like pina coladas and other sweet coconut cocktails, as well as desserts. Cream of coconut should not be used in Thai dishes unless you want your curry to taste like dessert.
Do I need to keep coconut poke cake in the refrigerator?
Yes, if you leave your cake out, then it will get really soggy. It will still taste good, as long as it hasn’t been out too long. However, if you keep it nice and cool then it sets up better. In a way, it is similar to dulce de leche cake in that regard.
The cream of coconut and condensed milk mixture don’t necessarily go bad quickly, but they do tend to separate from the water content when they are left out. The water is what makes the cake basically turn wet and pasty and much less appetizing.
Still, I guess if you had to choose, would you rather have a soggy piece of cake or a brittle and dry piece?
What else can I decorate my coconut poke cake with?
If you can’t resist adding a splash of color to that white on white on white cake, then consider some toppings. You can add them to the top of the whipped cream topping or you can lay them inside as a layer.
For example, you could add some cherry pie filling to the top of the cake and add the whipped cream on top of that. Or, just put some maraschino cherries on top of the whipped cream. Or try some wedges of dried pineapple on top. Stand them up so they look like cute points coming out of the whipped cream.
If you want to keep it real and only go with coconut, then perhaps dust it with some crunchy bits of toasted shredded coconut. Not sweet enough? Toss some sprinkles of sugary sweetened coconut flakes on top. At that point, I have to warn you… you are heading into serious sweetness territory!
Feeling kind of coco-nutty?
I love the versatility of coconut. It works in either desserts or savory main course dishes. If you get on a coconut roll, allow me to suggest some recipes to take advantage of the urge.
Easy Coconut Cream Cake
- 1 box white cake mix
- ½ tsp. Coconut extract
- 10 oz. coconut cream found in the liquor department of your local supermarket
- 10 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 8 oz. container Cool Whip
- 2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
- Make cake according to package using egg whites and coconut extract. Pour into prepared 9” X 13” cake pan and bake according to instructions on box. While cake is baking mix together coconut cream and sweetened condensed milk.
- When cake comes out of oven poke holes all over using a fork or wooden skewer and then pour and spread the coconut milk mixture all over the cake. Allow to cool and then cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, spread Cool Whip all over cake and sprinkle coconut on top.
- Serve and enjoy!