This is one showstopper of a cake, with layers of rich chocolate cola cake covered with a dulce de leche, coconut and pecan icing.
As of this week, my husband is another year older and (sort of) wiser. And even though most of the celebration was super low key, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to make a killer cake.
Because what’s a birthday without cake?
Some people show their love with surprise parties or thoughtful gifts, but I do it with sky-high cakes worthy of the occasion. And this cake is worthy of any occasion, really. Because while it’s impressive, it’s actually really easy to assemble. There’s no fancy frosting, and no fuss. Once the cake layers are ready, it takes just 5 minutes to assemble.
And if that doesn’t have you preheating the oven and pulling ingredients out of your pantry, let me remind you of what this cake’s got going on.
There’s three layers of chocolate cola cake— the cola flavor isn’t really prominent, but I think it’s fun and different. Then there’s dulce de leche in between each layer and drizzling down the sides— use dulce de leche from a can or make your own (see below), there’s no wrong way. And finally, mixed into the dulce de leche is toasted coconut flakes and chopped pecans.
It’s rich, chocolaty, and gooey. And it’s heaven. Kind of like a german chocolate cake, except better. My husband loved it!
baking tip:How to make homemade dulce de leche
For this cake you can use purchased dulce de leche, or you can make your own. To make your own pour sweetened condensed milk into a glass baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Place the baking dish inside another larger baking dish. Fill the pan with water to reach halfway up the sides of the smaller pan.
Bake for about 2 hours, stirring once or twice, until the milk is a deep caramel color. Carefully remove the dish from the water bath and remove the foil. Transfer the caramelized milk to a bowl and whisk until smooth. Let it cool to room temperature before using, or store in the fridge to use later.
Chocolate Cola Cake with Dulce de Leche, Coconut and Pecan Icing
For the cake:
- 2/3 cup (157 ml) hot black coffee
- 1/2 cup (43 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup (157 ml) cola drink, such as Coke or Dr. Pepper
- 2 3/4 cup (332 grams) cake flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 3/4 cup (415 ml) vegetable oil
- 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the icing:
- 2 14-ounce cans (400 grams) dulce de leche (see Note)
- 1 cup (112 grams) Diamond of California Chopped Pecans
- 1 cup (95 grams) shaved coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
To make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper, then dust the pans with flour.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the hot coffee and cocoa until smooth. Stir in the cola drink and set aside to cool. In another bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking soda and cinnamon.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the oil and sugar until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the chocolate cola mixture, and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the icing:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On an ungreased sheet pan, spread the shaved coconut and chopped pecans side-by-side. Toast in the oven until coconut just starts to turn golden brown, stirring coconut once, about 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn't burn.Put the dulce de leche in a bowl and microwave 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes, until it is warm and pourable. In a large bowl, combine the dulce de leche, toasted coconut and pecans.
To build the cake:
- Place one cake layer on a platter or cake stand and spoon 1/3 of the icing on top. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and icing, allowing the icing to drip down the sides. Place in the fridge for at least one hour to set before serving.
- Store the cake in the fridge for up to three days.
Have you tried this recipe?
Recipe first posted in January 2012. Pictures have been updated and improvements to the recipe have been made.