Coconut Cream Meringue Cake
(adapted from Fine Cooking)
For the cake:
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, well shaken and at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
For the filling:
2 cups heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted
1 ounce unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla bean, scraped
pinch kosher salt
For the meringue:
3 cups sugar
10 large egg whites, at room temperature
To make the cake:
Position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare six 9×2-inch round cake pans and line each with a parchment round. Butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, combine the coconut milk and vanilla.
In a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add about one-third of the flour mixture and mix on low speech until incorporated. Add half of the coconut milk and mix until incorporated. Continue adding the flour mixture and coconut milk, alternating the two and ending with the flour. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Pour the batter into a large bowl.
In a clean mixer bowl and using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a spatula, gently stir a large spoonful of the whites into the batter to loosen it, and then fold the remaining egg whites gently into the batter.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Level the batter with a spatula. Stagger the pans on the racks so that no pan is directly over another (You will probably want to bake in batches unless you have two ovens). Bake until the center of the cake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes total. (Rotate and swap the pans after 15 minutes if baking in 1 oven.) Cool on racks for 10 minutes. Inverts the cakes onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.
To make the filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups of the cream and egg yolks.
Combine the sugar and flour in a medium saucepan. Add the cream mixture and cook, whisking, over medium heat until smooth, 2 minutes. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking until thickened to a pudding consistency, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the coconut, butter, vanilla, and salt and let cool to room temperature.
With an electric hand mixer, whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream to soft peaks. With a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the filling.
To assemble the cake:
Put a cake layer on a flat serving platter lined with strips of waxed paper to keep it clean while icing. Top the layer with 1/5 of the filling, spreading it evenly. Repeat the next 4 layers. Top with last cake layer.
To make the meringue:
Put the sugar and egg whites in the metal bowl of a stand mixer (make sure it’s clean) and set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar melts completely, 3 to 4 minutes. Rub a small amount between your fingers to make sure all of the sugar grains have melted.
Transfer the bowl to the mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk at low speed until the mixture becomes completely opaque and begins to thicken, about 4 minutes. Raise the speed to medium and beat until thickened to soft peaks that barely hold their shape and flop over when the beater is lifted, 5 to 7 minutes. Finally raise the speed to high and beat until glossy and thickened to medium-firm peaks that stand up stiffly, but curl slightly at the tip when the beater is lifted, about 4 minutes more.
Using an offset spatula, apply the meringue thickly over the entire cake. Then poke you fingertips into the meringue into spikes all over the cake. Remove the wax paper.
Brown the meringue by holding a kitchen torch 2 to 3 inches from the meringue and waving the flame over the cake until it’s browned all over.