Gooey Chocolate Coconut Cream Skillet Cake

by Julie Ruble on June 18, 2013 · 29 comments

Gooey Chocolate Coconut Cream Skillet Cake

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, based on the ubiquitous and absolutely delicious Texas Sheet Cake, with coconut cream from Zoë Bakes
Yield: 4-6 servings

This cake is like you took heaven, put it in a skillet, and added coconut cream. It’s also tremendously fun to eat straight out of the cast iron. What a great treat to pull out for your family after dinner.

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
dash salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting Ingredients:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 tablespoons cocoa
3-4 tablespoons milk (as needed for consistency)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Coconut Cream Filling Ingredients:
1/2 of a 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
3/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup whipping cream
extra whipping cream
toasted coconut (optional)

Make coconut cream: Heat the coconut milk, sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and corn starch. Add 1/4 cup of the hot cream slowly to the yolks, whisking as you add. Then pour the yolk mixture into the pot of hot cream and whisk. Continue to whisk with heat on medium-high for 3 more minutes. The mixture will turn thick and bubble. You need to continue to whisk for the full 3 minutes or the pastry cream will separate once it is cool. After the 3 minutes, whisk in the butter. Add the coconut flakes. Pour into a shallow dish to cool.

Cover with plastic wrap pressed right against the pastry cream. This will prevent a thick skin from forming on the surface. Refrigerate for at least an hour or freeze for 30 minutes. Once it is cold, stir the pastry cream to loosen. Whip the 1/4 cup cream to medium peaks. Stir in a third of the whipped cream to the pastry cream to lighten. Fold in the remaining cream until the pastry cream is nice and light. Chill until ready to use.

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt together and set aside.

In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, bring the butter, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, and water to a boil. Remove it from the heat and whisk in the dry ingredients well. Mix in the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Bake the skillet cake at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

Make the frosting: While the cake starts to cool, bring the butter, cocoa, and milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove them from heat and add the icing sugar, nuts, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over the warm cake, spread with a spatula. Let the cake cool completely. While it cools, whip excess cream to stiff peaks. Toast some coconut on a sheet pan at 350 degrees F, tossing often, for about 5 minutes. Once the cake is cool, scoop out a hollow in the middle of the cake (chef gets to eat the excess cake, of course!) and pour in the coconut pastry cream. Top with whipped cream and toasted coconut. Serve immediately (as you know, I like to eat it straight from the skillet!)

P.S. You know I had to create an animated gif:

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Tieghan June 18, 2013 at 4:38 am

This is amazing!! Gooey chocolate coconut!! Oh my gosh, this sound like my new favorite food!


Belinda @themoonblushbaker June 18, 2013 at 11:39 am

The canes really speak to me, I love them as a symbol of hope and triumph. Have you heard the legend that if you make a thousand of them you get a wish? Of course this is from a book but still a wonderful symbol.
I think your pictures speak for them selves this cake is too good. Coconut and chocolate love forever


Mary June 18, 2013 at 11:44 am

I’d like to try these in my 4 individual cast iron skillets. It looks delicious!


DessertForTwo June 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Aww, so bittersweet. I love your teaching stories and your recipes!


Sarah @ Miss Candiquik June 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Aww – congratulations on your engagement! Now I have to go find your previous post ;).
And this cake….pinning!


Michael June 18, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Dear god in heaven, this looks delicious! I must make this (after I meet with my personal trainer of course!)


daisy June 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm

You had me at “gooey!” This is definitely going on my must make list!!



Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) June 19, 2013 at 1:07 am

Any recipe that starts with the word gooey and follows with chocolate as the 2nd word is magical. This looks incredible!


Lori in NC June 19, 2013 at 3:04 am

Congratulations on your engagement, and best of luck with your move to Raleigh. We live near Raleigh – I know it’s unlikely, but I keep hoping you’ll end up at my son’s middle school. You sound like a great teacher!


Nicole June 19, 2013 at 5:32 am

This looks To Die For! I love my skillet, I need to try making a cake in it!


Danelle June 19, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Oh my! I can’t believe it’s another skillet cake–with coconut! I’m dying! And so exciting about your engagement! Having school age kids who love their teachers, I know your students will miss you, but the kids at your new school are going to love you–I have 3 boys and believe me, any teacher who lets them out of their desks to sit on the floor is awesome! :)


Nancy @ gottagetbaked June 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Congratulations on your engagement and on the big move. What a wonderful post about your school. The teachers and kids sound like a dream come true! I love the intention behind the 1000 cranes (boo to the fire marshall…although I guess they are a bit of a fire hazard!) Needless to say, I want to face plant into this skillet cake. Yum!


Colette @ JFF! June 19, 2013 at 6:36 pm

This looks KILLER good!


Maya June 19, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Um, I just discovered your blog yesterday and am in love!!! I especially love your challenges, and your commitment to cooking really hard things. I have been in a rut lately and need some inspiration- all ready to leave work and go make croissants now! :) You’ve also inspired me to mayyybe pick blogging back up again. If a teacher that is planning a wedding has a time to blog, surely an 8-5 desk job girl can!


Maya June 19, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Also, your engagement/love story is pretty much the best thing ever.


Tracy | Peanut Butter and Onion June 21, 2013 at 11:39 am

Skillet + Cake = I’m in!


Jenny @ BAKE June 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I want hanging cranes in my room too! they look so pretty! This cake looks absolutely amazing! I coudl easily polish the whole thing off in one go!


Jayne June 24, 2013 at 2:25 am

I’ve been a teacher for about 2 years before and can really understand how you feel, even tough you’re more seasoned than I was. That strange tinge of sadness when the school term ends, with a mix of pride knowing that the kids are moving up a grade and you’ve done your best for them. I remember feeling frustrated too because I had so much I wanted to do but the system in which I worked in limited creativity and initiative. I may not remember every child’s names anymore but I remember their faces, the experience they gave me (both bitter & sweet) and sometimes wistfully long to be back in those days again. It was a strange and interesting time of my life.


Emily @ Life on Food June 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm

You learn so much during your first job. Just think of all that you will take in during the second. This cake is too much. Heaven would be the two forks, sitting with my husband, and digging in.


careyleigh12 June 25, 2013 at 8:12 pm

This looks delicious! Beautiful presentation.
Check out my Texas Sheet Cake at
I am also a local teacher but originally from Texas!


Melissa June 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Welcome to Raleigh and I hope, Wake County Public Schools! I work at a great school in the area too. Good luck with your move. You are going to love the area!


macv July 11, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I want the cranes and the CAKE looks great, hide the diet, scale and the blood tester, for just one day.


Vera July 15, 2013 at 11:02 am

I came here to see the cake, and the story you shared was such a wonderful discovery. Such a great school, I wish there are more schools like that, specially here in my country.


Taylor July 17, 2013 at 4:33 am

Ms. Ruble,
You were seriously one of the best teachers I ever had in middle school, and for that matter, my whole life. I still remember stories about that one author who responded to your critical post ( and that he was none too pleased), that essay you did 10 minutes before class, and the adorable puppy known as Byrd. I still remember my first day of middle school, and the blitz you had us do on what we would bring to a desert island. I am so happy that I was able to have you for those 2 wonderful years. Thank you for the laughs, lessons, and time you gave toward making me a better reader, writer, student, and person. I will never forget you.
Love, Taylor
PS: Those kids in Raleigh have no idea yet how lucky they are that they will get one of the best teachers in the world next year! Good luck!


Julie Ruble July 17, 2013 at 4:49 am

Aw, Taylor, I think my heart exploded :) Thank you for your sweet note and for always being such an awesome, hard-working, enthusiastic kid — you were a privilege to teach and I will miss you! I’m so glad you remember my 10-minute essay story, especially, because I try to tell that at least a few thousand times each year — mostly out of pride. LOL. But seriously, I will never forget you, either, and I’m so proud of you! I’ll come visit!
Ms. R


artisanrox August 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I’m letting the skillet cool off from the cake as I type.

This cake, I think, is going to be my new most favoritest thing!!!! I can’t wait to eat it!! Thank you so much for this recipe!


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