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  • Susie Csorsz Brown

Recipe: Pumpkin Coconut Cake

Sometimes you just need a good basic cake, right? Sometimes the day just calls for it, or you get the late-afternoon email for the next day’s Bake Sale or a random potluck invite … Put this one in your back pocket for just those occasions. So, how is this a healthy recipe? Okay, let’s be real: it IS cake. But I firmly believe all things in moderation. AND, though you can find the recipe in its original form on, I’ve morphed it a little to up the fiber content and reduce the sugar. And pumpkin is just awesome, especially when you add extra spices to it; the flavor just keeps getting better and better the longer the cake sits. Clearly, you can opt not to do the frosting but ... some days just demand frosting, too, right?

Original recipe:

Yield: 12 squares

Pumpkin Coconut Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat)

1/3 cup unsweetened desiccated shredded coconut

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon allspice (or just use 2 tsps of pumpkin pie spice for all of these spices)

4 eggs

3/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Up to 1 cup of additional optional-but-yummy add-ins: ½ cup crystalized ginger, chopped into a small pieces (easiest with a pair of scissors); ½ cup mini dark chocolate chips; ½ cup craisins; or ½ cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped

Coconut cream cheese frosting

2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon coconut extract

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted if you like


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, coconut, baking powder, salt, soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and allspice.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, sugars and pumpkin puree until smooth and combined. Stir in the vanilla extract. If you are adding any of the optional add-ins, stir them in now.

Mix in the dry ingredients until they are all combined, being careful not to overmix. Spread the batter in the greased pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the center is no longer jiggy. Let cool completely before frosting.

Make the coconut cream cheese frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add in powdered sugar with the mixer on low speed, increasing the speed once all of the sugar is added. Add in vanilla and coconut extracts, then beat on medium to medium-high speed until creamy, scraping down the sides if needed. Frost the cooled cake and sprinkle the coconut on top.

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