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Blog Coconut Christmas Cake and Cookies

Blog Coconut Christmas Cake and Cookies

The combination of cake and cookies as a holiday dessert centerpiece is so appealing, I think it deserves to become a tradition. So in that spirit, I offer this year's Christmas cookie cake, a rich golden cake with a snowy coat of coconut frosting, surrounded by angels and topped with a star.

Bringing this dessert out at a holiday gathering is sure to generate some "oohs" and "aahs," and it will make both cake and cookie lovers happy. It's not a difficult undertaking, and as a "do-ahead" dessert, it easily fits into a holiday cooking schedule.

You make the cake and cookies ahead of time (you can even bake the layers and cookies and freeze them, unfrosted, until needed), and just assemble them at the last minute. Directions are below—enjoy!

Christmas Cake

Materials:

1 recipe Sugar Cookies
1 recipe yellow cake, homemade or from a mix
1 recipe Coconut Buttercream (below)
1 bag sweetened flaked coconut
1 recipe Royal Icing (below)
Angel cookie cutter and Star cookie cutter
1 drinking straw or large lollipop stick
Food coloring, piping bags

Steps:

  1. Bake the sugar cookies and let them cool completely. You'll need six angels and two stars for the cake; the recipe will make extra cookies so you can experiment with decorating.
  2. Make a batch of royal icing and decorate the cookies. Use white for the background of the angels and let it dry completely (overnight is best) before piping the wings, robes, and faces. For the stars (and angel wings), use a golden yellow; yellow and orange or copper food coloring mixed together make a nice warm shade.
  3. If you like, you can also pipe halos for the angels. To do this, trace small circles, about 1 inch in diameter, onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper (I used a quarter). Make a few extra to allow for breakage. Flip the paper over and pipe royal icing in a nice thick line over the circles. Let dry completely (a few hours). Bake your favorite recipe for yellow cake in two 8-inch round layers and let cool completely. It's fine, and in fact preferable, to use a recipe for a 9-inch cake; baking the batter in 8-inch pans will make the cake higher. (It's also fine to use a mix.)
  4. Make the coconut buttercream; reserve about 1/2 cup buttercream to use for attaching the cookies to the cake.
  5. Split each cake layer in half, to make four layers. Place one layer on a platter, spread some frosting over the surface, and sprinkle a little coconut evenly over the frosting. Repeat with the remaining layers and frost the top and sides of the cake. Press coconut gently and evenly onto the sides and top of the frosted cake. Pipe 12 rosettes evenly spaced around the cake's perimeter.
  6. Before serving, gently press the frosted cookies to the sides of the cake, using a dab of the reserved buttercream to help adhere the cookies to the cake. Space the cookies around the cake evenly, using the rosettes as a guide; each cookie should be in front of a rosette (every other one). For the top of the cake, insert a drinking straw into the cake, making sure the length of straw that sticks up is slightly shorter than the height of the cookies. Place a generous dab of buttercream on the backs of two cookies, then press together, sandwiching the straw in the middle.
  7. If you made halos for the angels, gently insert a halo at an angle into the rosette behind each angel's head.

Coconut Buttercream

Makes enough to frost one 8- or 9-inch cake

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup cream of coconut, plus extra as needed

Beat butter until light and fluffy; gradually add confectioners' sugar and beat until smooth. Add cream of coconut and continue beating until frosting is light and smooth.

My favorite shapes to use for a Christmas cookie cake are the Angel cutter and the Star cutter. Other good combinations include the Snowman and Snowflake cutters, and the Candy Cane and Bell cutters.

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