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: