Warning: This Charleston Coconut Cake is a showstopper! This decadent dessert features layers of coconut cake filled with coconut cream…oh, and there’s a coconut cream cheese frosting, too!
Warning: This cake is not for the faint of heart. It’s not a difficult cake to make, but it does take time to assemble. After all, there are 6 layers of coconut cake here. And there are 5 layers of coconut cream filling. And the entire thing is covered in coconut cream cheese frosting. If you aren’t a fan of coconut, then stop reading. Bounce on over to something like this Chocolate Chocolate Cake and get ready to go chocolate crazy. But if you do like coconut, then this Charleston Coconut Cake is calling your name! It’s a showstopper type of dessert!
This Charleston Coconut Cake in inspired by the Ultimate Coconut Cake at Peninsula Grill in Charleston, SC. As long-time readers might remember, I grew up in downtown Charleston. We lived 2 blocks from the Battery, and I rode my bike all around the cobblestone streets of Charleston. We had a Basset hound named Beauregard. I played football under the oak trees in White Point Gardens where they used to hang pirates. (That sounds a bit macabre now, but it’s true.)
If you’ve ever visited Charleston, then you certainly know the city is immersed in history. 3 signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence are buried in Charleston churchyards. (2 of them are buried in the church where we went every Sunday morning.) Oh, and speaking of graveyards, I totally remember riding my bike extra fast whenever I had to pass a graveyard on the way home at night from a friend’s house or Cotillion. (Yes, I took Cotillion like any good Southern boy.)
I could literally fill pages with unique memories of Charleston, but I’ll just share one more…for now. The house directly across the street had a wine cellar. But this wasn’t just any wine cellar. As soon as you entered the house, you were met by a grand wooden staircase on the right side of the house while a hallway ran along the stairs on the left side. Like many homes, there was a coat closet in this hallway. But if you pushed the coats to one side, you’d find a doorway built into the bottom half of the closet.
This wine cellar was a small room that was only accessible through the back of that coat closet. It had wood beams and dirt walls, and our neighbors had racks of wine stored there. But it wasn’t always a wine cellar. Apparently it was built as a place for Confederate troops to hide during the Civil War. How cool is that!? Our neighbors house had a secret room where soldiers once hid 175 years ago. I didn’t realize it at the time, but growing up in Charleston was a unique experience. I would give anything to go back to those days!
My sister and I did go back to Charleston a couple of years ago, and it’s surprising how much we remember of the city. Sure, shops have changed and the tourist area has grown a bit larger, but the streets where we played as kids haven’t changed a bit. But what has changed in Charleston is the food scene . There are dozens of trendy new restaurants there, and we absolutely hit as many as we could on our trip! We also stopped by the Peninsula Grill one evening for a cocktail and a slice of their Ultimate Coconut Cake. Amazing!
Over the years, Robert Carter, the original creator of Peninsula Grill’s signature dessert, has shared his recipe in a number of interviews. This Charleston Coconut Cake is based on his creation, although I have made a couple of additions like toasting the coconut as well as using my own white cake recipe. But all credit here goes to Robert Carter!
As I mentioned at the top of this post, this Charleston Coconut Cake is a showstopper. It’s one of those once-a-year type of cakes that you make for a really special occasion. Or for a Wednesday night. It’s insanely tall, and it’s also insanely delicious! Enjoy, my friends!