Using a boxed vanilla cake mix as my base, I used canned coconut milk instead of water and added a teaspoon of coconut flavoring. I placed all ingredients in stand mixer and mixed until blended.
I buttered and floured a 6" x 3" round aluminum cake pan. I also added a parchment round inside pan and coated it with cooking spray. I did not want this cake to stick! My cake didn't quite come to top edge but it easily came out of the pan.
Fill pan three-quarters of the way full. You want the cake to bake up to top edge of pan. This will allow you to have 2 - 1.5" layers or 3 - 1" layers. I went with 2 layers on this cake. I used a cake leveler to level cake and then cut cake in half.
Place first layer on foil-covered cake round. Add 1/2 cup of frosting and spread over layer. Place second layer on top of first layer. Add 1/2 cup of frosting on second layer and spread evenly.
Using an offset spatula, add additional frosting around sides of cake and spread evenly. This doesn't have to be perfect because you will cover sides with toasted coconut flakes.
Frosting Top of Cake: Place remaining frosting in piping bag fitted with #12 round tip. Started on top edge of cake, pipe large dot of frosting. Using tip of spatula, gently push frosting toward the right to create a "petal" on the left. Continue making frosting petals all along edge, then move to inner circle making 3 concentric circles of petals. Leave center empty - you will fill this with toasted coconut.
Toasting Coconut: After cake is finished baking, reduce oven heat to 300 degrees. Place 2-3 cups of sweetened coconut flakes on parchment lined baking sheet. Spread out evenly. Bake coconut flakes until lightly toasted. I toasted coconut in 5 min increments (set a timer) until flakes are lightly toasted. Keep your eye on it! Edges tend to toast before center so you may need to move flakes around with spatula after each 5 minute baking increment.
Coating Sides with Toasted Coconut: In an effort of full disclosure, I must warn you - THIS STEP IS MESSY and there's no easy way around it. I'm open to suggestions to make this step neater. After coconut has cooled completely, it will be toasty, crispy, and yummy. Place cake on cooling rack over baking sheet (to collect coconut flakes that fall). Pick up a bunch of flakes with your fingers and gently push onto side of frosted cake. Continue all around side of cake until completely covered. You can use flakes that fall in pan below. I made a lot of toasted coconut because I wasn't sure how much I'd need. You probably only need 2 cups total.
I had enough batter left over to make a small batch of mini cup-cakes. I added the same frosting and sprinkled tops with toasted coconut flakes. These were a bonus and the perfect bite of deliciousness (I had to try one or two, maybe three, out for quality control purposes ;-).
This recipe was even a big hit with our canine family member. Our golden doodle Bella thought the platter of mini cupcakes on the table was meant for her. She enjoyed at least 3 or 4 (including the paper) before being busted by her big brother! Bad doggy!
This cake was gobbled up in less than 24 hours. On a yumminess scale from 1 (yuck) -10 (amazing), my fourteen year old son gave the recipe an "11". Yay! That's very high marks coming from him because he can be picky. He's actually eating the very last piece as I write this post (and the dog is eyeing him longingly begging for a bite).
Check out the recipe below