Monday, April 16, 2012

Chai Almond Cake with Toasted Coconut Buttercream

The deep color and flavor of this chai layer cake is balanced by the delicate middle layer of almond sponge cake and the sweet coconut buttercream. I have been thinking about making a chai cake for a long time and am thrilled with the way this layer cake turned out. Chai is such a luxurious drink; The sweetly aromatic flavors in the tea are heightened by the creamy milk in which it is steeped, leading me to think a chai cake paired with a buttercream frosting would combine to form a similar, deeply flavorful and creamy result. Adding a rum syrup in between the layers provided additional moisture and flavor ensuring this cake will have a lasting place among the pages of my family's favorite recipes.

Quite frankly, I'm immodestly pleased with myself over this cake. Allow me to pose this little question: whose got two thumbs and knows how to make a damn tasty cake?

This gal.

Although this recipe is more involved than most of the ones I present on this site, it is so worth it.

Chai Almond Cake with Toasted Coconut Buttercream ~ serves 8-12
1.25 cups whole milk
6 bags chai tea
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 whole eggs
2.5 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Martha Stewart's Almond Sponge
Very minimally adapted from this recipe here.
1/2 cup almond flour (available at Whole Foods, baking supply stores and online)
1/2 cup AP flour
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
large pinch salt

Rum Soak
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons rum (about 1 nip bottle)
4 whole allspice berries

Coconut Buttercream
3.5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup coconut milk solids
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups coconut, toasted ~ reserve for garnish

Chai Layer Cake
Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare two 8-inch cake tins with Bak-Klene or butter and flour. Set aside.

In a pan over medium-low heat warm the milk and steep the tea. Be careful the milk doesn't boil. Stir in the vanilla and molasses.  Set aside.

In a large bowl beat the flour and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Alternate sifting in the dry ingredients and spice with the milk mixture. Mix until just combined. Spread in prepared pans and bake for 27-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool.

Almond Sponge Cake
Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare an 8-inch pan with butter and flour or Bak-Klene. (Note - Martha uses a 9-inch pan. I only own 8-inch pans. It still worked out fine for me using just one 8-inch pan).

Toss together the almond flour and AP flour. Set aside. 

In a large bowl whisk the egg yolks, vanilla, and a 1/2 cup of the sugar together until pale yellow and fluffy. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with a hand mixer or stand mixer on medium until soft peaks form. Raise the speed to high and slowly add in the remaining sugar (1/4 cup). Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold the whites in with the yolk mixture. Over the course of three additions fold in the almond & flour mixture.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Set aside to cool.

Rum Soak
Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Add rum and allspice berries. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.

Coconut Buttercream
Place your coconut milk in the fridge overnight or in the freezer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the butter until fluffy. Add vanilla. Add the sifted powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments. Now open the can of coconut - the milk solids should be firm and easily scooped out, leaving the water at the bottom. Measure out 1/2 a cup. Add a small spoonful at a time to the frosting, incorporating well between additions.

Toast the shredded coconut on a cookie sheet, taking care not to burn it. Set aside until ready to use.

Assembling the Cake
Trim the cakes as necessary to give you even layers. Use one chai layer as the base. Using a pastry brush, brush the entire surface with an even but light application of the rum soak.

Using an offset spatula add a layer of buttercream. Follow with the almond sponge and then the last layer of chai cake, repeating the rum and buttercream process.

Frost the entire cake in the remaining buttercream and press the toasted coconut onto the sides and top. If you have leftover buttercream you can make a few decorations around and on top of the cake.

Prepare yourself for the accolades you will receive from family and friends after presenting them with this cake.



  1. This looks wonderful to me! Thanks for sharing, I'll take a giant slice :)
    Aimee @ ShugarySweets

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. This looks so good! I'm looking through all the ingredients (as I always do) and I'm "oooh-ing" and "aahhh-ing". I see the work involved but I can also see the reward. This is awesome, Jess.

  3. I think you can be justifiably pleased with this, it looks great and the flavour combination sounds like magic! Chai, almond and coconut sounds like an unusual combination but I bet it tastes amazing!! :-)

    1. Thank you so much Laura. You have an awesome blog, by the way!

  4. Jess, this cake looks stunning. Nice work! I'd be proud of myself too if I made that cake. The flavors sound delectable. I love chai, so I know I'd love this cake. I'm printing the recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  5. That coconut buttercream sounds outrageously good!! This cake looks divine!! Amazing job! Drop by my blog today and collect a versatile blogger award!! You deserve it. :)

  6. This sounds like such an amazing cake! Everything about it looks tasty =)

  7. Jess...

    Looking at this beautifulness all I want to say is, "Ohhhhhh! Cake!"

    Gorgeous. And so delicious.

    I made a similar coconut buttercream a few weeks ago and it was divine! I can only imagine how great this one was with this beautiful cake!

  8. And so you should be proud of yourself, Jessica, this looks gorgeous. I've never had anything with chai in it but I've been hearing about chai desserts for a while now. Your description is so fetching that I'm sure I'd like it. I do really love almond cake so thank you for that recipe. You may have inspired me. :)

  9. My sister in-law LOVES anything chai! I emailed her the link to this post. Buzz buzz!

  10. I love that cake. Anything with coconut makes me happy!

  11. Wow, that cake is stunning. The layers are gorgeous and just beg to be eaten. What a brilliant idea to use the chai for a cake and to pair it with buttercream.

  12. I love, love, love chai so I bet this is tasty!

  13. I agree with Jen (Juanita's Cocina) - "oohhhhhh, cake!

    i have such a weak spot for chai, and i love the combination of chai and almond cakes together. this looks fantastic. i can't wait to bake this and hoard it all for myself. :)

    1. Haha! It was tasty. Please let me know how it turns out if you end up making it.

  14. You had me at chai, and then you throw in almonds and coconut?? Can it get better??? Yummmm. That looks to die for.

  15. This is beautiful Jess! I love that the layers are different, and sandwiched together with creamy buttercream to create a delicious creation! I wish I could try a piece :)!

    1. Thanks Amy. I love all of your beautiful cake creations. :)

  16. Okay. I normally don't eat sweets. But this time? Man...I'm willing to make an exception. And in the immortal words of Oliver Twist: More please. :-)

    1. We've been on a Dickens kick over here recently - how apropos! :D Thank you for the kind comment!

  17. Gorgeous cake! I'm loving all the flavors incorporated into this masterpiece. Well done!

  18. Each element sounds pretty fantastic together! Looks beautiful:-) I was just looking at the chai seeds at the grocery store, but have never really had them. I need to try them:-) Hugs, Terra

  19. I think there's a mistake in the chai cake directions. You say to beat the flour and sugar together first. Could you have meant to beat the BUTTER and sugar together? Otherwise, there is no mention of the butter.


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